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This year Kangri becomes dearer to Kashmiris

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Srinagar, Jan 21: With electricity supply erratic this winter, kangri — the traditional earthen firepot woven in wicker — has emerged as an useful means to fight subzero temperatures in Kashmir.

Sales of kangri have almost doubled this winter compared to last year, people associated with this trade claimed and attributed it mainly to the erratic power supply.

The capping of subsidised LPG cylinders per household over the years and soaring prices of wood were listed as other factors that have forced the people to revert to use of kangris to keep themselves warm during winter.

 

“The sale of kangris was dipping every year over the past decade or so due to introduction of modern gadgets like heaters that used electricity, kerosene or LPG as fuel.

However, as these fuels are not available readily now, people have started buying kangris again,” Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Charar-e-Sharief who sells kangris for a living, told PTI.

Many areas of Kashmir, including Srinagar, face electricity outages ranging between six and 12 hours every day while only 12 subsidised LPG cylinders are provided to each household every year.

Kerosene, which was widely used to fuel the heaters, has also become a rarity with each household getting only two litres per month at subsidised rates.

Mohammad said this has led to a spur in sales of kangris.

“I used to sell 10 to 15 kangris every day at the start of the winter season, which was definitely not enough to make a proper living. However, the sales this year improved and I sell anywhere between 20 and 25 kangris each day.”

An average kangri costs between Rs 150 and Rs 200 but the price of a good quality firepot ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 500.

The 65-year-old artisan spends summer buying the raw material for kangris and makes them during autumn months so that his merchandise is ready for sale at the onset of winter.

The increase in sale has rekindled his hope that the art of making kangri, unique to Kashmir, can be preserved and passed to the next generation.

“The low returns earlier were major deterrent for the younger generation to even consider entering this trade but there is hope now. A good craftsman can make more money than an entry level government employee does under the new job policy of the state government,” Mohammad Abid, 30-year-old son of Ghulam Mohammad, said.

The exact size of market for kangri in Kashmir is difficult to gauge but thousands of people get their livelihood from being associated with its trade.

Besides being used to fight winter chill, kangri, an earthen pot woven around with wicker filled with hot embers, is also regarded as a work of art.

Abdul Hamid, a shopkeeper in outskirts of Srinagar dealing only with wicker products including kangri, felt the pot is here to stay.

“With electricity meters being installed everywhere, people from economically weaker sections — may be even middle class — will have to rely on kangris to keep themselves warm,” Hamid said.

He said the Kangri had a special place in the Kashmiri culture which extends beyond the valley now.

“We also have decorative kangris which cost upwards of Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. These are normally given as gifts and adorn many a drawing room in Kashmir and outside the valley. Brides would be gifted at least one such kangri by her parents at the time of marriage… such was the importance of kangri in Kashmiri culture,” he added.


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70% of torture victims in Kashmir are civilians: JKCCS, APDP report

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Srinagar, May 20: In a first of its kind since the inception of armed conflict in the valley, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) on Monday released the first comprehensive report on torture in Jammu and Kashmir titled Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The report focuses on the torture perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir by the government forces since 1990 and provides a contextual understanding of various phases of torture being perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947. Using 432 case studies, the report charts out trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, sites, contexts and impacts of torture in Jammu and Kashmir.

Due to legal, political and moral impunity extended to the armed forces, not a single prosecution has taken place in any case of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, reads the report.

 

Despite global attention and condemnation of torture, following exposes of indiscriminate torture practised in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons, torture remains hidden in Jammu and Kashmir, where tens of thousands of civilians have been subjected to it. “Torture is used as a matter of policy by the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir in a systematic and institutional manner, as all the institutions of the State, be it a legislature, executive, judiciary and armed forces form a part.”

The report also cited the recent case of the custodial killing of a 29-year-old school principal, Rizwan Pandith who was killed on 19 March 2019. “Rizwan Pandith was killed due to torture after being illegally detained in the Cargo camp of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police. Three days later, the Police filed a case against deceased Rizwan, alleging that he was trying to escape from the Police custody while no case was filed against Police officials under whose custody he was killed,” reads the report.

Also, the report gives a brief understanding of the historical background in the use of torture in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 to curb any dissenting voices, a practice which attained an unprecedented magnitude post-1990. The report categorizes the eras after 1990 during which torture and other human rights violations, while still being carried out by the Indian armed forces and Jammu & Kashmir Police, were also outsourced to different formations like Ikhwan and Village Defence Committees (VDCs).

The report even establishes that the vast number of methods of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, as set out in the UN OHCHR Istanbul Protocol, have been and continue to be perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir.

The forms of torture that have been documented in the report include stripping the detainees naked (190 out of 432 cases studied for this report), beating with sticks, iron rods or leather belts (326 cases), roller treatment (169 cases), water-boarding (24 cases), dunking detainees head in water (101 cases), electrocution including in genitals (231 cases), hanging from the ceiling mostly upside down (121 cases), burning of the body with hot objects (35 cases), solitary confinement (11 cases), sleep deprivation (21 cases), sexual torture (238 cases) including rape and sodomy, among others.

The report points out that a predominant majority of the torture victims are civilians: 301 out of 432, which include women, students and juveniles, political activists, human rights activists and journalists. Entire populations have also been subjected to collective punishments like cordon and search operations (CASO’s) during which torture and sexual violence have been common.

The report further provides an insight into how torture has ruined the lives of survivors with a multitude of them suffering from chronic ailments resulting from torture.

Apart from the physical ailments, people who have been tortured or even witnessed it, have suffered from psychological issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 49 of the 432 victims of torture died post-torture, 40 of them as a result of injuries received during torture. Since many deaths due to torture-related injuries are not immediate but may occur after years or even decades, accurate figures of such fatalities and morbidity are extremely hard to estimate.

Torture has been associated with other human rights violations like custodial deaths and enforced disappearances, and it is only when a case of torture is accompanied by such human rights violations that it gets reported in the media. As a result, torture has remained unnoticed and survivors continue to suffer in silence. Since policies like ‘Operation All Out’ continue in Kashmir and the army is given a “free hand” as declared by the Prime Minister of India as recently as 15 February 2019, the armed forces are only emboldened to continue perpetrating torture. This report is an attempt by APDP and JKCCS to break the silence around such a penetrating violation.

The report recommends for an international investigation on torture in Kashmir, led by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, besides urging India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and end the phenomenon of torture.

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Posters, graffiti turn city shabby

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Srinagar, May 20: Srinagar city has turned shabby as the walls of various public and private buildings are defaced with utter disregard to aesthetics or the law prohibiting the same.

In a move to curb this disfigurement, Srinagar Municipal Corporation has issued fresh instructions to everyone warning against defacing the city or illegally using the spaces for advertising.

“Instructions issued to all big brands and commercial entities to be fined heavily for defacing the city with unauthorized advertisement hoardings and wall paintings,” Srinagar Mayor, Junaid Azim Mattu recently posted on his official Twitter account.

 

In almost every area of the city, walls along the roads and buildings are defaced with graffiti or posters pasted without any authorization.

Majority of them advertising coaching centres, the posters are seen on walls, lampposts, and flyover pillars giving the overall ambience a shabby look.

Besides, several promotional hoardings are erected on electricity poles and roadside walls.

For instance, most of the roadsides around Jawahar Nagar and Parraypora areas are covered in posters.

The walls of Super Specialty Hospital at Shireen Bagh are seen in hideous condition. Graffiti and advertisement are pasted on the whole stretch.

The situation is almost the same in areas like Barbarshah, Nawa Bazar, Karan Nagar, Jehangir Chowk, Residency Road, Press Enclave, Baghat, Barzulla, and Natipora areas of the city.

The Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1985 calls for strict punishment against the person found defacing the government property.

As per it, whosoever defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.

The law defines the defacement as impairing or interfering with the appearance or beauty, damaging, disfiguring, spoiling or injuring in any other way whatsoever.

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Clear Jhelum embankments from encroachments: Div com to I&FC Deptt

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Srinagar, May 20: Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan on Monday directed Irrigation & Flood Control Department (I&FC) to clear Jhelum embankments from encroachments and take steps to beautify both the banks.

He said while conducted city tour to inspect various developmental works including face lifting, street lights, drainage, beautification and macadamisation.

Divisional Commissioner visited Poloview, pedestrian bridge near GPO, site of KCCI building, TRC, Amar Singh College crossing, Boulevard and other areas. The Div Com inspected various developmental works and stressed on the officials to ensure completion of all projects within the stipulated time. He also instructed officials to maintain the quality of works while executing the projects.

 

In Poloview and other areas, Div Com called for repairing the defunct street lights and ensure illumination during night for the benefit of commuters. He also reviewed the functioning of drainage system at Poloview and Amar Singh College crossing. He instructed the officials to ensure removal of blockage of drains so that there is no accumulation of water in the areas during rains.

The Div Com also reviewed the macadamisation work undergoing at TRC and repair work of walkways and ramps at Boulevard. He called on officials to work with dedication so that both locals and tourists are benefited. He said that the work needs to be expedited so that the project is completed at the earliest.

The Div Com directed the DC to regularly monitor all the developmental works in the city and send a weekly report to Div Com office.

The Div Com was accompanied by DC Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, CE R&B, CE PDD, Additional commissioner SMC, Dy Director FCS&CA, SE UEED, SP Srinagar, members of  KCCI and other officers.

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