Srinagar, Sep 20: Outside the high walls of famed Harwan garden stands a makeshift apiary nestled under a towering mulberry tree.
The air around it rings with the growing buzz, as Mohammad Shaban Kumar, an 80-year-old beekeeper, carefully lifts the lid off the wooden beehive box, giving a live demonstration of his emotional relationship with bees.
With his face covered in a net to shield against stings, Shaban uses his ever-ready yellow screw driver to extract honey from a sticky frame of hexagon-shaped honeycomb.
“I treat them like my children, and in return, they reciprocate my love for them. Normally, the bees used in apiculture sting only in self-defense. If you handle them with care, they don’t attack you.” says Shaban with a smile, allaying the fears of getting stung.
His beekeeping journey dates back to Maharaja’s rule.
“I started bee keeping right in 1957,” the old beekeeper, who never felt like giving up on his passion despite witnessing the brutal stages of conflict, says.
“I have seen the hardest of times. The guns roared and there were days when I earned literally nothing, but I never thought of switching my profession,” he says.
The old man says he sacrificed four lucrative government jobs to live his dream.
“I have worked in an engineering college, fisheries department, wild-life department, and silk-factory. My passion kept on calling me and one day I decided to turn my dream into reality,” says Shaban, who earns around “Rs 2 lakh” annually.
The old beekeeper finds utmost satisfaction in this profession and has been researching and experimenting with the bees over the years.
“There is lot of Barakah (blessings) in this field of work, but it demands lot of hard hard work and patience,” says Shaban, who lives with his wife and four sons.
He maintains around five to six beehive boxes in his apiary. From cooking to cleaning the wet frames inside the boxes, he does everything by himself.
“I make sure the boxes are cleaned properly by spraying sulphuric acid at regular intervals,” the beekeeper says.
He owns three farms and 250 beehives.
Till date, he has employed no helpers and lives alone. His family lives in a big concrete house some kilometers away from the apiary.
He believes that youngsters should explore this field of work instead of running after the “unattainable” government jobs, as this can prove to be a viable career option.
“Why should we only run after government jobs? Apiculture is a growing field and there is a lot of scope in it. The government should also create more avenues for the apiculturists so that more youth are drawn towards it,” Shaban says.
New political parties floated in Kashmir
Srinagar, Mar 18: Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, several new political parties have been floated in Kashmir.
The Lok Sabha election in the state will be held in five phases beginning April 11. The restive Anantnag parliamentary constituency, comprising Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts, will go to the polls “in parts” in the third, fourth, and fifth phase. The assembly elections are expected to be held after that, although no announcement has been made so far.
For the last two weeks, several political parties have been created in a bid to make some changes in the political system of the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The representatives of these parties are either disgruntled leaders of the existing political parties or people, who claim to bring a change in the “corrupt system” of the state.
On last Thursday, Syed Najeeb Nakvi announced contesting the upcoming elections from Baramulla constituency.
He said that he will fight against “increasing alienation” of youth. Nakvi was former Congress member and aide of Taj Mohiuddin.
Former member parliament Abdul Rashid Shaheen, and Sequib Rehman Makhdoomi have launched their party ‘Jammu Kashmir Awami Conference’.
Shaheen said that he launched his part to “give a platform” to Kashmiris to raise their issues. “We have already witnessed violence over the years. People can raise their issues. We have to get united and provide a common ground to Kashmiris.”
Another political party by the name of ‘Tehreek-e-Insaaf’ too has been recently launched.
Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah (Former MLC) has launched ‘JK Bachao Tehreek’.
Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal launched a political party on Sunday – the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) – with a promise to “bridge the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.
“I have not come here to engage in traditional politics,” Faesal said while launching party in Srinagar. The ceremony was held inside a park in a park here at Rajbagh, which was festooned with banners and white flags carrying Faesal’s pictures. “This party doesn’t belong to any particular religion or group. It is people’s party, and I invite all of you, particularly the youth, to join us,” he said.
There are also reports that some independent candidates of the last elections may also float their own parties in the coming days.
Earlier, several political parties were launched to participate in the electoral process of the state.
To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election.
There have been fears that most of such parties are used to ’round trip’ the black money into white.
The Election Commission of India had found that some of the parties were “no longer in existence or functioning”.
The Election Commission of India’s latest data on political parties, registered till March 9, a day before the Lok Sabha elections were announced, reveal that the country is having a total of 2,293 political parties.
They include seven “recognised national” and 59 “recognised state” parties.
In fact, 149 political parties were registered with the poll panel between February and March on the eve of the announcement of the poll schedule.
Till February this year, the country had 2,143 political parties registered with the Commission.
ECI issues notification for B’la, Jammu seats
Jammu, Mar 18: The Election Commission of India (ECI) Monday issued notification for General Elections to Baramulla and Jammu Parliamentary Constituencies.
As per the notification, last date of filing nominations has been fixed on March 25, while the scrutiny of papers will be held on March 26 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 28 up to 3 PM.
Similarly, as per the notification polling for the two seats will be held on April 11, 2019. The voting hours has been fixed from 7:00AM to 6:00PM.
Meanwhile, notification for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections was issued for other constituencies in the country as well setting in motion the high-voltage electoral battle where the BJP seeks to return to power amid opposition’s efforts to present a united fight to unseat it.
Polling would be held in 91 parliamentary constituencies spread across 20 states on April 11 under the first of the seven-phase general elections.
The Election Commission Monday issued a notification signed by President Ram Nath Kovind for the first phase of the election.
With the issuance of the notification, the nomination process has begun which would continue till March 25. Scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held on March 26 and the last day of withdrawing nomination is March 28.
By the evening of March 28, a clear picture on the number of candidates in each of the 91 constituencies will emerge.
All parliamentary constituencies in 10 states and Union Territories will go for polling in the first phase.
These include, Andhra Pradesh (25 seats), Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya (two seats each), Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep (one seat each), Telangana (17 seats) and Uttarakhand (five seats).
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal will see polling in all the seven phases.
In the first phase, eight west UP constituencies, two in West Bengal and four in Bihar will go for polls. UP has 80 seats, while West Bengal and Bihar have 42 and 40 Lok Sabha seats respectively.
The Jammu and Baramulla seats in Jammu and Kashmir will also go for polling in the first phase.
The election will pit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance against mostly different opposition groupings in various states, including of Congress, the Left and regional forces who are continuing to work out a grand alliance to minimise a division of votes against the saffron party.
The BJP has worked out a seat-sharing formula with some new allies and several old partners, by even making concessions in states such as Bihar. However, opposition parties are yet to do so in several states.
While the NDA hopes to make history by coming back to power for a second full term, the Opposition wants to unseat the Modi dispensation by raising questions on its performance on a host of issues, including economic growth, unemployment, corruption and social harmony.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee had led the NDA to back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999 general elections but he was at the helm for only one full term.
The BJP, which lost three state polls last year, believes its Lok Sabha campaign is back on track following decisions such as 10 per cent quota for the general category poor, money transfer to farmers and a populist budget.
What has injected further confidence into the NDA fold is the fronting of the nationalist plank in the poll campaign after the Indian Air Force’s strikes in Pakistan following the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Modi has launched an aggressive campaign accusing the opposition of coming together for the sole purpose of removing him from power, when he is working to “remove poverty, corruption and terrorism”.
He had led the NDA to a sweeping victory in 2014 as it won 336 seats, reducing then incumbent Congress to its lowest total of 44 seats.
Police Chief asks cops to be ready for polls
Jammu, Mar 18: To assess the police preparedness for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Monday visited District Bandipora and had an interaction with the personnel of Police and CAPFs.
He was accompanied by IGP Kashmir SP Pani and DIG North Kashmir Range M. Suleman Choudhary.
Singh, while interacting with the police and other CAPFs personnel deployed in the district, emphasised upon them to remain vigilant and ready for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
He said that with the announcement of schedule for the elections, responsibilities of all forces have increased and they have to focus on the security measures besides maintaining ‘law and order’.
“DGP said that J&K police alongwith other forces put in efficient efforts to conduct the Local Bodies and Panchayat elections in the state smoothly and now we have to remain extra vigilant and prepared for the Lok Sabha elections,” a police spokesperson said.