Baramulla, Apr 11: Three single-storey blocks spread on a few kanals of land is what comprises the 66-year-old High School in Singhpora, a village of 20,000 people close to Pattan town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
At 9 am on Thursday, youth and elderly lined up in good numbers to cast their votes in this school. It was A peculiar sight for a village which, over the years, has been in news for nocturnal raids, arrests, boycotts and, of course, stone pelting.
“I have come to vote as I have 17 cases against me. I want to get rid of them,” said 60-year-old Rahim, who did not give his last name.
Rahim claimed he was innocent and that the cases were slapped “to extort money” from him.
“I have never cast a vote before. I am 60. We are forced to vote now. I think that is the only way to save ourselves. Hopefully the candidate I’ve voted for will help me get out of this mess,” he said.
If one was to believe Rahim, as many as 350 youth and elderly in the village had police cases registered against them, many filed during the 2010 and 2016 phases of unrest.
“We have always been terrorised. Not just by the government forces, even the politicians here have neglected us,” he said.
As Rahim spoke, a lanky man with glazed eyes, probably in his early 20s, stood next to him, eager to speak.
“Mere khilaf paanch parche hain (I have five FIRs against me),” he said, finally jumping into the conversation.
“Every month, I have to be present in the court. I wouldn’t have voted, but there is no option left. I have voted for Rashid Engineer, he is a people’s person. He himself has been thrashed many times like me. I think he will take up our issues and solve them,” said the youth who identified himself as Bilal.
Youth who’d come to vote huddled Bilal, many shouting that the village was also “entirely neglected” by the politicians.
“This high school has been functioning from the last 60 years yet no one has ever tried to upgrade it to a higher secondary. See the state of this school, all littered with garbage,” said a youth in his 20s, who refused to reveal his name.
By 11:00 am, when this reporter left the scene, 160 votes out of 667 were already polled in one of the three polling stations set up in the school.
After Noori, Kashmir scientists planning to clone Hangul
Srinagar, Apr 25: After successfully cloning Pashmina goat in 2012, the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry at SKUAST-K is now contemplating to make clone of Kashmir Stag (Hangul).
Realising that the Hangul was gradually getting extinct from the valley, the scientists at Department of Biotechnology SKUAST-K Shuhama came up with this idea.
“This project is in infancy as we require permission from Wild Life department, local government and Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA),” said Dr Riyaz Ahmad Shah, a veterinarian in the animal biotechnology center of SKUAST.
Shah said the execution of the project would require heavy funding and creation of the advanced infrastructure in the research centre.
“First of all a Deer park in needed where there these animals must have been already reared. Then advanced infrastructure is need as we currently have some basic machinery here. So overall this project can be only executed when the government is serious in accomplishing it,” he said.
He said the cloning could be achieved by using the body cells of some other inter-species including a goat or a sheep.
While the initial work including the framing of paper has been done, Shah said the tracing and catching this rare animal was becoming equally challenging for the concerned department.
“They usually die on being caught by the people. Still it could be managed but they are not being currently traced in abundance in the forests here,” he said.
Shah believed that cloning of the deer can be an equally effective process like breeding procedure done to improve their population.
Official data reveals that population of Hangul has reduced to from 5,000 to 182 in last 118 years.
Department of Wildlife’s data shows the population of Kashmiri Hangul in 1900 was 5,000, spread over 65 miles from north to east of the Jhelum and lower Chenab valley.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is also all set to declare it a ‘critically endangered’ species to protect this beautiful animal from disappearing from earth.
In 2012, scientists at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) successfully cloned the first Pashmina goat. The healthy female goat was born using a foster mother and it took two years for standardisation of the technique.
Assembly polls in JK: EC to convene meeting today
New Delhi, Apr 25: Election Commission of India (ECI) officials will meet on Friday to discuss assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Officials of the Jammu and Kashmir government are also expected to attend the meeting to assess whether the state assembly elections can be conducted in June this year.
While announcing the seven-phase Lok Sabha election schedule on March 10, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said that elections for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly would not be conducted along with the Lok Sabha elections. In June 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had withdrawn support to the PDP, led by Mehbooba Mufti in the 87-member state assembly.
Since the fallout of the coalition government, the state has been under President’s rule.
IT Dept searches premises of kin of ex-minister
Srinagar, Apr 25: The Income Tax Department Thursday carried out searches at two premises of a kin of Imran Reza Ansari, a former minister in the PDP-BJP coalition, for alleged tax evasion, officials said here.
They said the income tax officials, assisted by the Jammu and Kashmir police and the CRPF, carried out the searches at a business complex in the upmarket Karan Nagar where locations of North Point Complex were searched by the tax personnel.
Later, a team was sent to search another premises of the family at Alamgiri Bazar in the downtown Srinagar.
The income tax officials maintained that Thursday’s raids were carried out on a business family and were in no way connected to Ansari, a politician who switched over to People’s Conference led by Sajad Lone.
Ansari’s sister is married to the family whose premises have been raided.