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Men who call it right: Meet Sonam Lotus’ able right-hand who takes calls past midnight

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By Hirra Azmat

Srinagar, Apr 14: Dr Mukhtar Ahmad is a very important man for us all, yet not everyone is aware of his role and existence.
He is the Deputy Director Meteorology in J&K, assisting the well-known weatherman Sonam Lotus.
Ask for the Deputy Director in the Meteorology’s Rambagh office, and you would get to meet the young man whose facial features reveal his Ladakhi origin.
“It seems you are also good at forecasting,” he quips on being asked about his homeland.
Born and brought up in Drass, a part of district Kargil, he completed his primary and secondary education from a local school.
“The temperature often dropped on my way to school, which was set against the towering mountains. Going to school in extreme cold conditions was difficult. I often wished to know about the change in weather beforehand,” recollected Dr Mukhtar.
After completing his graduation and masters in science from Delhi, he pursued his post-doctorate in agricultural technology.
In 2015, he qualified an UPSC exam for the post of the Deputy Director in Meteorology.
“Initially, I was skeptical about working in the department, but all my fears proved to be false. I didn’t know what to expect from Sonam (Lotus) Sir,” Dr Mukhtar said.
His fears turned out to be unfounded, as the celebrated weatherman took him under his wing and helped him learn the ropes of the trade. Now, the chemistry between them is such that Dr Mukhtar takes over in Sonum’s absence.
“Sonam Sir is a very dedicated person. Working with him is a pleasure. The way he coordinates with the staff of around 50 people is quite exemplary,” he said.
Both these men are fond of Kashmir.
“My experience of working in Kashmir has been great. We have immense public support, as people have a firm faith in our forecasts. For me, the valley is second home,” he said.
Reposing trust and confidence in them, people call them frequently to enquire about the weather.
“You won’t believe that we sometimes get calls till 3 in the night. Farmers and businessmen call us frequently,” he said.
“Farmers need to be sure about weather before spraying the costly pesticides or insecticides over their crops. The businessmen usually are concerned about the status of the highway.”
How exactly do they predict the weather and provide the information? Mukhtar explains: “We rely on the data gathered from advanced technological equipment including Doppler Weather Radar and Satellite Meteorology. This helps in data analysis through graphical information.”
Asked if the department faces any challenges in the conflict-ridden valley, Mukhtar said that every area has its own challenges.
“As long as you are in good health, every challenge can be overcome,” he said.

 
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Kashmir

Stopping of trucks on Sgr-Jmu highway: Mutton, fruits, vegetables dealers suffer huge losses

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Apr 23: The mutton, vegetable and fruit dealers Tuesday claimed that they have suffered losses worth crores due to routine stopping of vehicles carrying these items by the traffic police on Srinagar- Jammu national highway.

The dealers said that trucks carrying livestock and other items are being stopped at various junctions on highway without any reason.

As per the dealers, the practice is prevalent from a long time, resulting in the escalation in the prices of essential commodities including mutton, vegetables and fruits.

 

General Secretary, All Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association (AKMDA), Kashmir, Mehraj-ud-din Ganie said that for the last three months, the truckers ferrying livestock to the valley are facing difficulties while travelling on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

“For the last almost one week, 150-200 trucks have been stopped at Udhampur’s Jakhani area, resulting in loss to the tune of Rs 1 crore daily to the mutton industry, “he said.

Ganie added that “we have nothing to sell as our stocks are over.”

“We have taken advance from the customers, who require mutton for marriage purpose. We were not able to give consignments to them. If stock didn’t reach at an earliest, we won’t be able to provide consignments for next two days as well, “he said.

President, Jammu and Kashmir Goods Transport Companies Association (JKGTCA), Mohammad Sidiq Ronga admitted that truckers are being stopped for no reason.

“Attempts are being made to shatter our economy. The traffic police are stopping our trucks everyday. Usually trucks carrying goods reach Kashmir from Delhi in 24 hours but now it takes three to four days,”he said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Traffic, J&K, Alok Kumar said that “landslides at Manki Morh have been causing disruption in the traffic movement.”

“Earlier, we allowed traffic to move towards Kashmir but it resulted in congestion .Once congestion is over, we would allow them to proceed, “he said.

Meanwhile, traders at Fruit Mandi Parimpora are planning to go indefinite strike from Monday 29.

The Mandi comprises more than 300 shops and around 3000 people are directly associated with it for earning their livelihood.

President, New Kashmir fruit Association Parimpora Bashir Ahmad said that they have called an indefinite strike from Monday 29. “Every day our fruit and vegetables- laden vehicles are stopped unnecessarily in Udhampur by police. Fruits have short life and get destroyed due to stopping of our vehicles on highway. We understand that Losses are inflicted deliberately, the president claimed.

He said that though they raised the issue many times with the top authorities but no heed has been paid in this regard. “Now we have decided to shut our business till our problem won’t be resolved,”

He said that they are not satisfied with the assurances given by the government and therefore they have decided to go for strike.

He claimed that due to unnecessary stopping of vehicles, the traders at fruit mandi are losing crores every month. “Deliberately our trucks are being stopped in the Udhampur region. We have seen that when a truck offers money to the police, only then they allow them to move towards Kashmir,” Bashir Ahmad claimed.

He further alleged that even on Sunday when traffic was not allowed on highway, they received several vegetable and fruit- laden trucks from Jammu, and “they told us that they paid money to the police who later allowed them to move”.

Sources said that supply of vegetables and fruits could be hit, triggering a price rise, if the strike begins and continues.

The supply of vegetables, fruits such as onions, Potato, Mangoes, oranges, Grapes, chillies, cauliflower, cabbage and tomatoes is largely dependent on this mandi.

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ECI’s assurances over fool-proof security have fallen flat: Mir

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Srinagar April 23: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President and party candidate from Anantnag parliamentary constituency, G A Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit with great enthusiasm.

In a statement issued Mir also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.

Mir has expressed gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag, saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free, which was matter of enormous pleasure for Congress party.

 

Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag. The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir, he said.

Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident free elections, he added.

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Geelani’s son questioned by NIA in funding case

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New Delhi, Apr 23: Nayeem Geelani, son of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, appeared before the National Investigation Agency for questioning in connection with a case related to funding of groups and separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here.

Nayeem Geelani, who had been evading questioning by the NIA for long, appeared on Monday and a detailed questioning took place on Tuesday.

Geelani’s questioning comes days after the NIA quizzed moderate Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq in connection with the same case. The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of militant activities, stone pelting on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments.

 

The case names Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused. It also names organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat.

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