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School bags crushed government’s efficacy under their weight

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar: Many months and two committees later, the state government is yet to make a move towards reducing the weight of school bags.
After receiving the report from the first committee in March, the government sent a team of officials to Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan for studying their models of “Human resources and School Management Committees”.
While the team submitted its report within a week after it returned from these states, no formal order has come from the government yet over addressing the issue.
Joint Secretary (Publication), JKBOSE, Mohammad Arif Akhoon, who was the member of the study group, said they travelled to various schools of the coastal areas in Tamil Nadu to study the local government’s school management process.
“We went to Tamil Nadu and then to Pondicherry to get an idea about working of the schools there and the academic course developed by them for various classes,” he said.
Akhoon said they submitted the report to the department within a week of their return in March.
Secretary Education, Farooq A Shah, said that they have been consulting various other stakeholders to devise a course of action.
“It is a difficult task and we are currently analysing the reports submitted by the experts. Besides, various stakeholders are being consulted for their viewpoint. We have to keep the interest of students in consideration,” he said.
Following Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s order on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) submitted by a law student , the government constituted a committee of five members in August last year to suggest the measures for limiting the numbers of books in students’ bags.
The Committee submitted its report in the month of November last year after which the High court directed the government to take a decision on the issue before February 2018.
Professor A G Madhosh, one of the members from erstwhile committee, earlier told The Kashmir Monitor that he too was unaware about the status of the report filed by them.
Petitioner Badrul Dujja said that the reports by expert committee should also be made public.
“Expert committee’s report didn’t come in public, so that we can debate on it. What bothers me is that our state is not able to solve a basic issue like this. I doubt how we will solve other major issues in the Education Department,” he said.


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Inquiry ordered: Rhetoric of decades

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 20: As a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, many families whose members have been killed by government forces find such exercises futile.
29-year-old Rizwan Assad Pandith, a school teacher from Awantipora was killed in police custody on Tuesday, following which the District Magistrate Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary ordered an inquiry.
Mohammad Iqbal Bhat, a local from Kupwara never received justice after his son was killed in 2017.
His son Asif, a driver by profession, was killed by government forces in December 2017, which triggered massive protests and clashes in the district.
The family claims that Asif was killed by army while he was on his way to pick up a passenger from the nearby highway in Kupwara.
The then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jehangir had ordered a magisterial probe into the killing and sought the report within three weeks.
More than a year later, the report is yet to reach the family.
“I was once produced before the judge in a local court in March last year where I gave my statement. The police ensured me that action will be taken against army, which has not happened so far,” said Bhat, who works as a forest guard.
He added the family wasn’t informed about the findings of the probe yet.
“When nothing happened in last one year, I left visiting the police station. They often told me that the file was in some other department. I don’t know whether some action was taken against the army or not,” Bhat said.
The family of Javed Ahmad Bhat, a Shopian resident who was killed by government forces in January 2018, too has stopped following the case, in which a probe was ordered by the then Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Aijaz Asad.
“We deliberately didn’t follow the case as we had the experience of their investigation when my younger cousin Aqib Ahmad Bhat was killed by the same army camp in 2008. My uncle had to visit Srinagar every week and still no justice was delivered to us,” Waseem Ahmad Bhat brother of slain Javed told The Kashmir Monitor.
Javed was shot dead along with two other youth in Ganowpora, Shopian by Army after locals resisted army’s move to remove the banners of the slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Waseem said the families of two other youth killed in the incident too have given up hopes of justice.
“It was useless to wait for the government report which was expected to come within 20 days. Neither anyone approached us nor did we seek any investigation,” he said.
Similarly, in case of Handwara killing of 2016, when two youth and a 57-year woman were killed by army is under trial at a local court in Handwara.
“A Special Investigation Team of Police was also constituted to probe the case. The case is currently under trail in Sub District Court Handwara and no action has been taken against the guilty yet,” the family of slain youth Nayeem Qadir said.

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JK isn’t NC’s personal estate: Mehbooba

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Jammu, Mar 20: In a blistering attack at former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for dubbing emergence of new parties in Kashmir as a New Delhi ploy to divide Kashmiri mandate, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday (March 20) said, J&K is not a personal property of the National Conference.
Mehbooba’s attack followed Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone’s diatribe against Omar Abdullah that he needed ‘mental treatment” for opposing emergence of new parties.
“It is unfortunate that National conference considers Jammu and Kashmir as its own estate. When (former Chief Minister) Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed brought Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, they called them worms of dirty drain (as a Delhi’s party),” Mehbooba told reporters here.
“When the PDP was formed, they alleged the same thing. Today when Shah Faseal formed a new outfit, Omar Abdullah says the same thing,” said Mehbooba.
The PDP chief said Omar Abdullah feels any party formed in J&K will claim right on their estate of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is a democratic country and everyone has the right to form one’s own party and do politics. Jammu and Kashmir is not a personal property of the NC,” she added.
Omar’s remarks came on the day Shah Faesal, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who was reportedly slated to join the NC, launched his own party – ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement’.
Omar had reacted to the development dubbing it as a New Delhi ploy to divide the kashmiri mandate.
“Why is it that these political parties are launched only in Kashmir, why not in Jammu or Ladakh? Doesn’t it clearly indicate a ploy aimed at dividing us further?” Omar had asked, addressing his party workers’ convention in Anantnag Monday.
“It is a fact that conspiracies have been hatched for long to weaken our special status. While in Jammu and Ladakh, the (political) field is being left open for the Congress and the BJP, here (in Kashmir) there is always an attempt to divide the mandate,” Omar had said, indirectly blaming New Delhi behind the move.
Lone too had attacked Omar Abdullah Monday.
“Were we to give power to Omar Abdullah after Maharaja Hari Singh? He got Kashmiris killed in 2010. Before that his father got people killed and maimed from 1996 to 2002. Before that his father rigged the elections in 1987,” Lone had told reporters in Handwara.
Peoples Conference chief asked Omar Abdullah if there should be no other party except the NC.
“Do they have a copyright? Let me tell you Omar Abdullah is not a kid. He is throwing others’ lives in danger. New people have come on the political horizon. They are moving with few PSOs. Omar and his father and other family members are guarded by 600 to 700 security guards,” he said.
Lone said had Shah Faesal joined National Conference, then he would have been a “good man” for Omar.
“Now he has launched his own party, so he becomes a New Delhi

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Snow, rains in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Incessant rains lashed the plains while upper reaches received fresh snowfall in Kashmir valley on Wednesday.
Non-stop overnight rains in the valley have inundated roads at several places, including the Regal Chowk in commercial hub of Lal Chowk in Srinagar city. A government official said that that de-watering is going on at many places.
On Tuesday, a MeT Department spokesman had warned that there could be widespread light to moderate rain, snow or thundershowers over the Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours which could result in drop in the temperature.
He said that there could be light to moderate rain or snow or thundershowers and the maximum temperature will drop further and settled at 9 degree, six notches below normal in the summer capital during the next 24 hours.
However, the minimum temperature will be near normal, he had said.
The incessant rains triggered fresh landslides on Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link of the valley with the rest of the India. An official said the traffic movement was suspended due to the landslides.

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