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Cloudburst troubles Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar/Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir has been through an unusual situation during the last fortnight with cloudbursts occurring with frightening frequency.

Photo Credit: itimes.com
Photo Credit: itimes.com

The freak phenomenon after last year’s unprecedented floods has put the common man on the edge.

Six people were killed last week as multiple cloudbursts hit the north Kashmir mountain villages of Kulan, Rizan, Gagangir, Sonamarg, and the Baltal base camp of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Many heads of cattle, besides sheep and goats, in the meadows have also reportedly perished because of cloudburst during this period.

The damage to private property and government infrastructure by cloudbursts in the Jammu region has been more, though fortunately no human being lost life due to this freak weather phenomenon in Jammu region.

Government buildings, including some schools and health centers, besides private property including shops and residential houses, were damaged in Poonch and Ramban districts because of cloudbursts.

Warm, sunny mornings have been followed by sudden gathering of clouds followed by high thunderstorm/ cloudburst activity during the last 15 days as the people look skywards to gauge from where the next tragedy is likely to strike.

“Last year, there was an unprecedented flood that devastated low lying areas in the Kashmir Valley and this year it is the higher reaches that seem to be targets of divine wrath. Nobody knows what is in store for us,” said a worried Muhammad Ramzan, 57, who lives in north Kashmir’s Kangan area on the Srinagar-Leh national highway.

Sanam Lotus, director of the local Met Office, explained the freak weather active at present in the state.

“This year, the frequency of cloudbursts and thunderstorms has been unusually high in Jammu and Kashmir. There has been more than normal thunderstorm and rainfall activity because of the monsoon in the state.

“Because of high rainfall activity in March we almost had a flood like situation on our hands this year,” Lotus told IANS.

“In fact, post the September 2014 floods, there has been record breaking rainfall in Jammu and Kashmir, but heavy rainfall does not necessarily cause cloudbursts.

“For cloudbursts to occur, three conditions are important: there should be enough moisture in the air, the atmosphere should be warm and it should also be unstable, which means there should be convective activity (warming of the earth),” Lotus added.

“Unfortunately, despite rains during the last 20 days that have been moderate to light, the general daily warmth does not reduce.”

Asked why Kashmiris generally believe the monsoon clouds do not cross the Pir Panjal Mountains and drain out before a few of them manage to cross the high mountains and reach the Valley, the weatherman said: “That is a myth.”

“The fact is that the monsoons do not only cross and pour in the valley, these even cross the Himalayas and reach the Ladakh region,” he added.

Lotus, however, had a heartening word as well. “The monsoon, as of today, is not very active over the state. Normally, the monsoon withdraws by September 15, but may be delayed by a few days”, he said.

Asked about the precautions against cloudbursts, Lotus said: “I am not an expert on that. But while choosing residential sites, people must select safe sites by which I mean they should take topography including slope, vulnerability, and the like into consideration.”

Lotus believed the vagaries of nature can be mitigated and their impact can be rendered less severe by putting knowledge and technology into practice.

“Believing that low-lying areas are flood-prone is okay, nobody guarantees complete safety from nature’s fury in the higher reaches. That seems to be the message,” said a stoic Ghulam Mustaffa, 64, a resident of Baramulla district.

(IANS)

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Rise of Wahhabism in Kashmir: Literature and Madrasas Radicalizing the Youth

The religious schools in the Kashmir valley have successfully radicalized the youth of the region and indoctrinated them with the Wahhabism school of thought in Islam

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Wahhabism in Kashmir
Youth has been active in the separatist movements against in the Indian Army. Twitter
  • Islamic religious schools, known as Madrasahs, is where the study of Islam takes place
  • The Sufi Islam, once cultural to the local Kashmir population, has gradually been replaced
  • The rise of Wahhabism is a significant reason as to the growing violence and reactions in the region

July 10, 2017: It can be seen how in the past decade there has been a shift from one school of thought in Islam to another. The traditional and moderate school, known as Hanafi/ Barelvi Islam, has been fading away while the radical and Saudi-induced Salafism/ Wahabism better known as Ahl-e-Hadith has become increasingly popular.

Last month, the clips of Mufti Shabir Ahmad Qasmi’s loud shouts of religious influence went viral on social media. It was the first time that a religious cleric had openly used his responsible position to support, and influence others to support, Zakir Musa, the former Hizbul commander. It is believed that the video instantly turned many to followers of Musa, mentioned TOI report.

The mosques in Kashmir have always been used to benefit religiously and politically, and especially the increase in their demands for a separate state since 1989 when militancy broke out.

Muzafil, a Sufi practitioner, explains to TOI that even though Moulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi among many other Hanafi clerics are trying to suppress and oppose this rising fascination with Wahhabism, the attendance in major Sufi gatherings is nonetheless decreasing. Dr. Abdul Latif, the general secretary of the Ahl-e-Hadith, estimates one million out of the total six million Muslims in the valley are now followers of their organization, highlighting the swift rise in a number of followers.

ALSO READ: Kashmiri Pandits Demand The Status of “Internally Displaced People”

Wahhabism, funded majorly for by the Arabs, combines the pre-existing schools of thought such as Deobandi and Jamat-e-Islami. Interestingly, Shabir Ahmad Qasmi, the Mufti who made a plea in support of Zakir Musa, is a Deobandi from Jamati background.

The transition from one Islam movement to another is a threat to the stability of Kashmir region. Sarjan Barkati earned himself the title of “Pied Piper of Kashmir” as he glorified the Hizbul commander Burhan Wani who intended to establish an Islamic caliphate. Sarjan, famously called the ‘Freedom Chacha’ in Kashmir, was a self-proclaimed Sufi cleric.

This incident brings to light the transition of ideology which then manifests itself into incidents like the mob lynching of deputy SP Ayub Pandith.

According to the TOI report, the majority of the people believe that Wahhabism had emerged after the killing of Burhan Wani, but it existed before. Maulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri was popular in 2015 for praising the ISIS and the caliph Al-Baghdadi. Very soon, ISIS flags were seen in Kashmir as a clear-cut sign of support. Additionally, Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa were declaring “Jihad for the caliphate.” More and more Kashmir youth thus became ISIS supporters.

Wahhabism
Burhan Wani, who became a popular face of the separatist movement in Kashmir. Twitter

Official sources of the TOI have also estimated that “there are over 7,500 mosques and seminaries in Kashmir, of which over 6,000 are Hanafi and around 200 are syncretic Sufi shrines. Ahl-e-Hadith, Deoband, and Jamat put together have just over 1,000 mosques and charity based seminaries, of which Ahl-e-Hadith has the largest number.” The reason for Ahl-e-Hadith’s growing popularity is its modern furnishing and other facilities. The Ahl-e-Hadith organization is widely acknowledged for funding numerous clinics and orphanages.

Ahl-e-Hadith mosques have doubled in the last 27 years. In the last decade alone, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has received somewhere between 10 to 100 crores from International donors. The top foreign nations who have funded the state are UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, all of which are not surprisingly Salafist practicing states.

A Shia Muslim in the TOI report reveals that the Kashmiri diaspora in the Middle East who send the radical literature through Hawala. Hence, a lot of Salafi writings are distributed for free on the streets of Kashmir.

The joint Hurriyat Conference, which split up in 2003, embedded Ahl-e-Hadith in their separatist movement. The Ahl-e-Hadith also has close relations with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The problem is not just confined to literature and Madrassas, but the internet as well. Radicalization through the internet and social media is dangerous as we have seen in the past. The glorification of separatist movements and leaders such as Wani are instantly shared among the 2.8 million mobile internet users. Thus, it is easy to reach out to the masses.

The data usage on mobile is higher in Kashmir as compared to other Indian states. The reason behind this, as one security official pointed out, was a lack of options for other entertainments. Cinemas and others were shut down in the state in the 1990s when militancy started opposing everything that was “against Islam”

The Hanafi school of Islam, which was once a dominant ideological path, is gradually fading only to be substituted by the reactionary form Wahhabism which was identified by the European Parliament as “the main source of global terrorism.”

Saudi Arabia has very strategically fueled Wahhabism in the Kashmir region. Successfully infiltrating this ideology in Pakistan, it slowly made its way into India. It very effectively indoctrinated the youth and made them distant to their Sufi culture.

– prepared by a Staff Writer of NewsGram 

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Uttarkashi affected due to Cloud burst in Yamuna and Ganga valleys

Officials said more than a dozen houses were flattened, forcing people to leave the Silkura village.

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Cloud burst in Uttarakhand. Image Source: hillpost.in
  • Since the cloud burst took place late Wednesday, exact damage is yet to be ascertained, an official told IANS
  • he Met department has alerted of heavy rains in the next 24-hours. An official with the Disaster Management department said that the trek route from Bheembali to Junglechatti has blocked the Kedarnath shrine route
  • Over 100 pilgrims were safely taken to Sonprayag by State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and police personnel

Rains continued to wreck havoc in Uttarakhand on Thursday as destruction was reported from two villages after a cloud burst in Yamuna and Ganga valleys.

Cloud burst in Uttarkashi. Image Source: http://naidunia.jagran.com/
Cloud burst in Uttarkashi. Image Source: http://naidunia.jagran.com/

Officials said more than a dozen houses were flattened, forcing people to leave the Silkura village.

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Since the cloud burst took place late Wednesday, exact damage is yet to be ascertained, an official told IANS.

However, no casualties were reported.

Kedarnath shrine route has been blocked. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Kedarnath shrine route has been blocked. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, the Met department has alerted of heavy rains in the next 24-hours. An official with the Disaster Management department said that the trek route from Bheembali to Junglechatti has blocked the Kedarnath shrine route.

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Over 100 pilgrims were safely taken to Sonprayag by State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and police personnel.

More than two dozen people were killed due to rain-related incidents in the hill state. (IANS)

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War-like situation in northeast and Kashmir: Rohatgi

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New Delhi: The Center on Wednesday defended army operations in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir and told the Supreme Court that India was faced with a warlike situation which was not akin to inter-country’s conventional war.

What we are facing in the northeast or in Jammu and Kashmir, it is not a law and order situation or internal disturbance. It is an insurgency from across the border in collaboration with homegrown groups,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

Pointing out that some groups engaged in an armed insurgency, observe the day when Manipur became a part of India as “black day”. Rohatgi defending the army action in dealing with these insurgents, said: “It is a constant warlike situation.”

Referring to the “amazing” number of security personnel killed in anti-insurgency operations, he said “we (security forces) don’t have a first strike option” in engaging the insurgents.

The Center said this during a hearing of a PIL by the Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EJEVFA) seeking action against security personnel involved in alleged staged shootouts in Manipur.

The petitioner contended that during May 1979 to May 2012, at least, 1,528 people were killed in Manipur in extra-judicial executions.

When we deal with the army, it is a different cup of tea compared to routine police. An Army is a different organization, it has its own discipline. It has its own rigor.

Pointing out that the rights of an army officer under the constitution were not the same as that of a common man, Rohatgi said: “If I (an army officer) don’t do what I am supposed to do, to apprehend and shoot (the enemy), then I attract death.

Drawing the attention of the court to the flaws in the Justice Santosh Hegde Commission report that inquired into the truth of alleged staged shootout cases in Manipur, the Attorney General said most of the queries related to the normal police investigation into a crime case.

He wondered how could there be questions posed by the commission as to how many bullets were fired by the army, what about a collection of empty shells, if insurgent was alone and army personnel were four, then why was he not apprehended alive.

It is either him (insurgent) or me (army personnel). You are dealing with a person who is not peaceful, who wants to overthrow the government. It is a rebellion by a 25, 30 or 100 groups, some are banned and some are not banned,

The commission headed by Justice Hegde and comprising former chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh and former Karnataka DGP Ajay Kumar Singh as its members was appointed by the apex court on January 4, 2013.

The commission was mandated to go into the truth of the allegations concerning the instance of alleged extra-judicial execution and record a finding of the past antecedents of the victims and the circumstances in which they were killed. (IANS)

(Picture Courtesy:www.newsroompost.com)