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Varadarajan questions mystery around Shujaat’s assassination

Naqvi speaks of minorities, media and ‘BJP 2.0’

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jun 14: Presiding over the first death anniversary of slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari here, veteran scribes of international repute Syed Naqvi and Siddhartha Varadarajan Friday dropped hints on the changing face of Indian politics vis-a-vis the recent Lok Sabha election results and BJP’s policy towards minorities and Kashmir.
Speaking on the occasion, Naqvi said that had Muslims in India been told about the possibility of a “Hindu Raj” before 1947 partition, they “would not have agitated or regretted the approach of BJP in today’s political environment”.
He alleged that the present central government is taking advices from Israel in dealing with the situation in Kashmir.
On Shujaat, Naqvi said he was a truthful journalist and had the qualities and the courage to side with the truthful.
“Working in a conflicting political environment where marketing of Prime Minister becomes an emotive slogan is very risky for every journalist in India as ghost cries are heard in the news rooms of TV channels on issues concerning minorities,” Naqvi said.
He, in a veiled reference, accused the present central government of taking offensive measures against political rivals including the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, expressing dissatisfaction over the police investigation into Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination case, prominent journalist Siddharth Varadarajan Friday said they are as clueless as they were on June 14 last year when ‘Rising Kashmir’ founder-editor was gunned down outside his office along with his Personal Security Officers (PSOs).
“For the last one year authorities have failed to inform us who were his (Shujaat’s) assassins and what were their motives. We are as clueless as we were on June 14 and this is simply not acceptable,” Varadarajan, the founder of ‘The Wire’ news portal, said.
Varadarajan said there is uncertainty about the assassins of Shujaat, which clearly indicates the callous approach of authorities towards Kashmiri journalists.
“We lost two great editors– Gauri Lankesh from Bangalore and Shujaat Bukhari from Kashmir – last year. However, the course of the investigations in both cases has followed a different pattern. In Gauri Lankesh’s case, the police have been able to file a voluminous charge-sheet. With a high degree of certainty they have identified the assassins and the causes which led to the crime. While as the story is altogether different in Shujaat’s case,” he said.
Terming “vilification campaign and slander attempt” as the main causes for Shujaat’s assassination, he said: “When you malign an individual on social media, you are making him a potential target. Likewise, Shujaat was frequently made a target of such vicious online campaigns which eventually led to his death.”
Varadarajan regretted that no effort has been made to trace the IP addresses of the people who led the “vicious online campaigns”. “Regrettably, no big media players are interested in knowing what led to his death,” he said.
The Wire founder noted that the investigation into Shujaat’s case cannot be allowed to rest. “Just because police have disclosed some broad facts does not mean we are satisfied. The identity and motive of the killers need to be known,” he said.
Eulogizing Shujaat, he said, “If all of us resolve to stand our ground and fight for truth like Shujaat, I think our duty as journalists is complete.”
The event was moderated by Rashid Nizami, who gave insights into Shujaat’s journalistic career and his efforts in peace building. This was followed by a release of a book authored by Shujaat Bukhari and his wife Dr Tehmeena Bukhari. The programme also featured a short-film on the life of slain editor-in-chief.
The function was attended by prominent personalities including deputy commissioner Srinagar Shahid Chowdhary, SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal, Congress leader Saif-ud-din Soz, National Conference leader and Shujaat’s brother Basharat Bukhari, Kashmiri poet Professor Naseem Shafaie, bureaucrat turned politician Dr Shah Faisal, Shaila Rashid Shora, and prominent poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef.


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Defunct street lights? Don’t expect SMC to fix them

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Srinagar, Jun 17: Srinagar plunges into darkness soon after sunset as most of the street lights in the capital city are defunct.

This being so since Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claims it is incapable to deal with the issue.

In absence of this basic facility, the city residents face a lot of inconvenience moving out of their homes to the markets or masjids during the evening and early morning hours.

 

Cases of burglary and dog-bites have been reported from many secluded areas where residents complain of either having defunct or no street lights.

People living in many of these poorly-lit areas feel scared to venture out of their homes in late hours.

“I prefer not to leave my home after Isha namaz. Dogs chase passersby since there is no street light in this colony,” said Bashir Ahmed, 60, a resident of Illahibagh.

SMC claims it has installed more than 40,000 street lights across the city. However, majority of them remain dysfunctional due to lack of an established electric division and less technical manpower in the corporation.

Executive Engineer SMC, Qazi Imtiyaz who looks after the Mechanical division, said: “We have nothing. Zero manpower to look after the technical faults of street lights. There is no electric division in our corporation.”

SMC Commissioner, Khursheed Ahmad Sanai said: “SMC lacks an established electric division as well as skilled staff to mend defunct street lights in Srinagar. But we are constantly making up to illuminate more areas through whatever little staff is available to us.”

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RKFC signs top English striker

More signings to follow; Club on track to become India’s football powerhouse

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Jun 17: J&K’s premier football club, Real Kashmir FC, has signed an experienced striker from England to play for the team in the upcoming season.

Announcing on RKFC’s official Twitter handle, the club management wrote: “RKFC is delighted to announce the signing of Kallum Higginbotham from Dunfermline Athletic, Scotland. Kallum is an experienced striker who has played at the highest level in the UK. Kallum has played for top teams such as Huddersfield Town, Kilmarnock, and Motherwell.”

Former Kilmarnock frontman, Kallum, who’s originally from Salford, England, will join the club in the third week of July, club sources told The Kashmir Monitor.

 

With Rangers legend David Robertson training the team, Kallum will be the second European player to play for RKFC after the coach’s son Mason.

The club finished third in the I-League last season in their first campaign in the top flight.

Terming it as an important signing, club’s co-owner, Sandeep Chattoo said: “Today’s signing of Kallum shows our intent that we mean business. We will leave no stone unturned to make RKFC a powerhouse of football not just in India but Asia. In coming days we will unveil more top signings. As a co-owner, I want to tell the fans that we will do whatever we can to play top class breathtaking football next season. RKFC is not just a football team. It’s the heartbeat of the state. For me personally it’s a project. We have just completed phase one. Lot more to follow.”

Head Coach David Robertson had a similar viewpoint on Kallum’s inclusion in the club: “Signing player of Kallum’s experience and quality is a huge statement and shows continued ambition of Real Kashmir. He will give us an extra edge upfront and can also play in various roles within the team. Our team is shaping up nicely and we are all eager and excited for the start of the new campaign.”

President J&K Football Association, Zameer Thakur congratulated the team on the signing.

“We welcome this signing and hope that RKFC will not just maintain but improve its last season’s performance in the upcoming one,” he told The Kashmir Monitor. 

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Overall nuclear arms decline but India, Pak, China expanding arsenal

Press Trust of India

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Stockholm, Jun 17: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernising their arsenals, a report published Monday said.

At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.

 

But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernising these arms ¬– and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.

“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.

The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.

The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it”.

Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.

The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.

While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.

There is also a more general trend towards an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.

“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalised,” Kile said.

Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.

Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.

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