Srinagar, Jan 18: Kashmir Haat, government’s central handicraft market meant to attract tourists, has Jammu & Kashmir’s only Crafts Museum pushed to oblivion where even the locals seem unaware of its existence.
Located in a far corner of usually-deserted Kashmir Haat, located at Exhibition Road here, the museum, called ‘School of Designs – Crafts Museum’, is without a signboard to guide the new visitors. And the ones aware of its location cannot enter due to locked main gate to Kashmir Haat.
A majority of the latter have to ignorantly make their way back, unless they are lucky to spot the tea vendor outside the main entrance to direct them towards the secret gate.
The museum has a wide range of Kashmir’s handicrafts that can be found nowhere else.
However, in words of a senior official of the department, it has become “more of a storage centre than an art museum”.
“The museum hardly sees any visitors. And how would it? Forget about the tourists, the locals themselves are not aware of this museum,” said the official.
“A museum without visitors cannot be called a museum, right? This building has now become a storage centre that has ancient handicrafts.”
The situation is such that the official couldn’t even calculate the average daily count of the visitors.
The official blamed the lack of marketing and publicity by the officials in charge.
“There’s no promotion, no publicity, nothing. The employees here work hard, but it’s really sad to see there’s no one to appreciate or admire the crafts,” the official said.
“We have a few loyal tourists who come to the museum every time they are in Kashmir. They know the worth of these handicrafts, so they visit often,” added the official.
As per the official, the museum has ancient handicrafts that are “worth a lot of money”.
“If you keep the main entrance closed, how will a tourist enter the Haat? And without even stepping in, how will he know that there is this craft museum inside?” the official asked.
The official at Kashmir Haat, Nazir Mir, justified the reason behind keeping the main entrance closed.
“The drug addicts enter the Haat and cause nuisance, so we keep the gate closed most of the time,” said Mir.
As per Mir, the staff could access the ‘Central Market Gate’, while, due to lack of visitors, “there’s anyway no point of keeping the main gate open”.
The Kashmir Haat, apart from the fairs that take place once or twice a year, witnesses hardly any activity.
The locals come for a walk, and the kids have turned the place into a playground.
Hizb commander among 3 militants killed in Tral
Militant recruitments have dropped considerably, says DGP
Srinagar, Feb 19: Security forces Wednesday killed three top militants including a Hizbul Mujahedeen commander in a fierce encounter at Sherabad area of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
The slain militants have been identified as Jahangir Rafiq Wani and Raja Maqbool residents of Tral, and Saddat Ahmad Thokar, a resident of Bijbhera.
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said the slain militants were involved in civilian killings and damaging public property in south Kashmir.
“We have been continuing our anti-militancy operations. Today we killed three Hizbul Mujahedeen militants in Sherabad. The slain militants included Jahangir Rafiq Wani who replaced the erstwhile HM commander Hammad Khan. Huge cache of arms and ammunition has been recovered from the site of encounter,” he said.
Singh said Jahangir along with Raja Maqbool were involved in the killing of two civilians, Mehraj ud din Zargar and Ghulam Nabi Mir, at Tral. After abrogation of Article 370, he set chemist’s shop and a truck on fire. “He was a dreaded militant who terrorized people and even set a mosque at Ameerabad on fire,” Singh added.
With the killing of these two militants, DGP said 23 militants have been killed so far in 10 “successful” anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
“In two encounters at Jammu, four militants were killed. In Kashmir, 19 militants have been killed so far. During these operations, no collateral damage took place,” he said.
The DGP said several militant modules were busted in 2020 and 40 Over Ground Workers (OGW) of militants were arrested.
“Youth joining militant ranks have dropped considerably, which is actually a good trend. Eight youth, who ran away from home to join militancy, have been reunited with their families. Right now, shops and traffic are functioning normally” he said.
On Umar Fayaz, who was injured during militant attack at Lawaypora, police chief said he has not been given a clean chit as yet.
“His condition is bad and he has been sent home for treatment. When he gets well, he will be taken into custody and interrogated,” he said.
Singh backed government’s decision to defer elections for vacant Panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir. “Right now operations are happening. The government’s decision must be based on solid grounds,” he said.
DGP said the launching pads of militants in Pakistan Administered Kashmir “remained full” with militants during winter season, who he said were looking for opportunity to sneak in towards India’s territory.
He these launching pads were active now and “desperately” waiting for opportunity.
“We don’t know the exact number of militants in these launching pads. These launching pads would getting empty earlier during snowfall but this winter the militants have not been withdrawn. Their activities are going on and waiting for opportunity to cross LoC,” he said.
Singh said the ceasefire violations this year so far have increased by Pakistan to push militants across the border.
He said some of their attempts of infiltration by militants have been successful.
“However, the forces there are giving befitting reply to the ceasefire violation and are also making their attempts unsuccessful. The militants who were killed in Jammu region had also infiltrated recently, which is being investigated. Pakistan wants to keep water warm on LoC,” he said.
DGP further informed that a drone from Pakistan crossed border in Kathua and returned after the BSF opened fire.”
Tough measures against misuse of social media:DGP
Srinagar, Feb 19: The Jammu and Kashmir Police said Wednesday that they will act against the misuse of social media networks, which were allegedly being used to stoke violence in the valley.
“We have evidence whereby social media was used through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to tell militants to carry out attacks at certain places. On priority, we are targetting such misuse of social media,” DGP Dilbagh Singh told reporters here.
Singh said the Jammu and Kashmir administration had issued an order January 14 banning the use of social media but the police was only going after those who were misusing it.
“We are sharing information (through WhatsApp) with you which means we know that you are using it. We are keeping a vigil on the use of social media and will act against those who misuse it,” Singh said.
The DGP was responding to a question about the police spokesperson using WhatsApp to share press releases and send invitations for events including his press conference Wednesday in spite of the ban on the use of social media.
“There have been several instances of misuse. For example, the driver of the truck which was carrying militants at Nagrota sent a photograph to his handlers in Pakistan the moment his vehicle was intercepted at the naka,” Singh pointed out.
“We have to differentiate between use and misuse… when someone misuses the social media, there will be no room for leniency. You should be thankful that you are able to use it,” added the senior police official.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar dismissed reports in some sections of media that 200 persons have been booked for using VPN.
“We have registered a general FIR. The report that 200 persons have been booked is absolutely wrong,” Kumar said.
LG calls for increasing surveillance along IB
Jammu, Feb 19: Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu on Wednesday asked the BSF to intensify vigil along the International Border (IB) to ensure safety and security of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
This was conveyed by Murmu to L Mohanti, Inspector General of Border Security Force (headquarters Delhi), who called on the Lt Governor here at the Raj Bhavan, a statement issued said.
Murmu and Mohanti discussed wide-ranging issues related to the BSF’s operations and the current security situation in the union territory, it said. The Lt Governor lauded the role being played by the BSF in safeguarding the frontiers and advised heightened surveillance for ensuring safety and security of people.