A 30-year-old trainee IAS officer allegedly drowned in the swimming pool of the Foreign Service Institute in south Delhi’s Munirka on Monday night. Ashish Dahiya, native of Sonipat’s Kharkhoda district, was attending a party at the institute with other young civic service officers. His lifeless body was found in the pool around midnight.Alcohol at partyWhile Mr. Dahiya’s family members claim that he had jumped into the pool to save a woman officer, the police say it is unclear at the moment whether he jumped in or was already in the pool.The police said they received a call at Vasant Vihar police station from Fortis Hospital early Tuesday stating that the 2016-batch IAS officer was declared brought dead at 12.50 a.m.Based on the initial statements given by eye-witnesses, the party started around 8 p.m. and they were consuming alcohol. “Evidence collected from the spot suggests that the revellers were consuming alcohol. However, whether Mr. Dahiya was drunk or not, will be clarified in the post mortem report,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Chinmoy Biswal.Already in the poolAs the night progressed and many of the officers left to go home, a few of the revellers decided to go into the pool.The small group of officers were enjoying themselves when they heard a woman yell for help. A few of the men jumped into the pool to save the woman, who is also an officer. A senior police officer said that after she was rescued, the woman told the men that Mr. Dahiya was with her at the time and asked: “Where is Ashish?”The officer’s friends then dove back into the pool and fished out Mr. Dhaiya’s body. They called the station medical officer, Dr. Pramyesh Basall, who tried to revive him with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) but failed after which he was taken to Fortis Hospital where he was declared brought dead.‘No lifeguard?’Whether there was a life guard present near the pool is unclear, said a senior police officer privy to the case. “We are not aware of any such presence. Also, it’s unclear whether they were allowed to go near the pool at the time,” he said. Mr. Dahiya is survived by his wife Pragya Dixit.
Tahira Begum, all of eight years old, is confident that she is mentally and physically tough enough for the arduous trek across the Pir Panjal mountain range. The passes are yet to open. A sudden snowfall last week brought nine inches of snow and closed down the Mughal Road that connects southern Kashmir’s Shopian district with Pir Panjal’s Poonch district. But that does not deter Begum from the journey she and her family have embarked on.Two tents and a few utensils are all they take with them. Food supplies include corn flour, rice, and herbal salt tea, to be supplemented by whatever the forests provide on the way. “Salt tea keeps us full of energy,” Begum says. Despite the sudden snowfall, this winter has been warmer than the previous ones, prompting Begum and her family to set off on their three-month trek earlier than usual, in April instead of mid-May.Towards the ValleyBegum’s family, consisting of her mother Zavra, father Muhammad, elder brother Basharat Ali, and sisters Rukhsana and Dilshad, left their winter hutment in the third week of April, shifting hearth and home from the Sunderbani forest of Jammu’s Rajouri district to the foothills of Bafliaz in Poonch. They will stay put here for a while before commencing the trek that will take them to an altitude of 5,183 ft before they reach Drang in the Kashmir Valley, 38 km north of Srinagar. Ali, 17, will climb a hill every morning to gauge the weather conditions before taking a final call on when to move.Begum hasn’t heard of the eight-year-old Bakherwal girl who was raped and murdered in Kathua in January, with the case bringing the spotlight on the nomadic community. All Begum can think of is a friend living on the other side of the mountain, even as she keeps an eye out for her four trained dogs, collecting wood, and fanning the flame for cooking.Her father Muhammad left a week ago with the Jab, a flock of 250 sheep. “We will raise the flock on green pastures and sell them on Bakri Id in the Valley,” she says. Her father will occupy the family’s traditional doke, a mud-hut made on the forest slope, before the rest of the family members catch up with him.Nomadic traditionsBegum belongs to the nomadic community of herdsmen in Jammu and Kashmir known as the Bakherwals. There are 23.4 lakh Bakherwals in the State, accounting for 11.9% of its population. They are J&K’s third largest linguistic group, after Kashmiri and Dogri speakers.There are two main linguistic groups in the hilly regions of Pir Panjal, Chenab Valley, Kashmir Valley and Jammu — Gojri speakers and Pahari speakers. The Gojri speakers fall into sub-groups, Bakherwals and Gujjars, both Sunni Muslim communities. The Bakherwals migrate from the Kashmir Valley to the plains and hilly areas of Jammu in winters and return to Kashmir in the summers to raise sheep. The Gujjars are more rooted. Many of them own farm land in the Pir Panjal Valley, Chenab Valley, Kashmir Valley and Jammu, and make a living by raising milch cattle.The seasonal migration of Begum’s family and other Bakherwals will involve two months of walking, from their winter hutments in the Jammu forest areas to the Kashmir Valley’s meadows, covering a distance of 550 km. A survey conducted in 2015 by Showkeen Bilal, a research scholar of Aligarh Muslim University and published by the Journal of Business Management and Social Sciences Research, had found that around 1.2 million Bakherwal women were “mentally and physically fatigued”, with 88.1% of those under 13 years of age having below-normal Body Mass Index. Female literacy in the community is just 25.5%, far below the national average of 34.8% among tribal women. Unlike other Bakherwals, Babu owns a piece of land on the wrong side of the fence. “These days, half of my family stays back and avoids coming with me here because of the experiences I went through in the Valley,” says Babu. “I no longer trek to my traditional dokes in Baramulla’s Boniyar area. One summer we found that the Army had set up a camp there. We pleaded with them to allow us access to the dokes. But they wouldn’t. One day my cousin and his son went to look for a missing horse in the camp area. They never returned. Till date we don’t know what happened to them. They just disappeared,” Babu says. “Later, we set up our dokes in Drang, which is nearer.”Many Bakherwals fled to safer locations during the militancy. Haji Muhammad Yousuf, 63, is fighting a court battle in Jammu since 1998 to get his migration benefits. Once a shopkeeper at Surankote’s Madhote area, Yousuf ended up in the middle of a military-militant confrontation.“In 1998, both the Army men and the militants used to come to my shop to buy groceries. It was Pakistan in the night and India in the day for me. But there came about a perception that I worked for the Army. So the militants became suspicious of me. Once that happened, I had no option but to leave my shop and land and migrate permanently to Jammu. Now two decades have passed, and still my application for the benefits of a migrant is pending in the deputy commissioner’s office. Is this justice?” asks Yousuf, who now lives in Jammu’s Narwal locality.Fresh woundsToday the Bakherwals see themselves as being cornered on a number of issues. They have had to deal with a sudden surge in cow vigilantism since 2014. Instances of locals attacking them were video-recorded and circulated widely. Every year they register their family members, cattle strength, and the places they visit, with the deputy commissioner’s office. Only then do they get the permits to move the flock from one place to another.According to police data, while 42 cases of bovine smuggling were filed in 2016, the number jumped to 97 in 2017. “We allow the Bakherwals to move on during the seasonal migration. However, we get tough if the permits are violated for smuggling,” says Rajiv Pande, Senior Superintendent of Police, Poonch.In February this year, when the Government of India’s special representative for J&K, Dineshwar Sharma, visited the State, the Gujjar-Bakherwal community submitted a proposal to him, seeking the creation of an exclusive Army regiment of Gujjars, on the lines of the Gorkha and the Assam regiments, “to defend the borders”.A deathly silenceIn the aftermath of the rape and murder of the eight-year-old Bakherwal child in Kathua, the ideological shift in the Poonch-Rajouri belt is palpable.“For quite some time, there have been no marriages between Muslim Gujjars and Muslim Paharis because of language-based identity politics. But the rape and murder of a Gujjar girl and the politics around it in Jammu is now forcing the Gujjars to think of their identity along religious lines,” says Asad Nomani, a social activist and a Gujjar leader in Poonch.“When I watch the news or read the newspapers, my blood boils,” says Ghulam Maryam, a Class 11 student at Poonch’s Gujjar-Bakerwal Girls Hostel. “This is unforgivable. This could happen to me. I fear stepping out in the dark now. The culprits deserve stringent punishment. We have pinned our hopes on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.”Gujjar leader Masud Choudhary says that an anti-Gujjar wave is being created in Jammu. “Gujjars form just 4-5% of the population in Kathua, R.S. Pura and Samba. But it’s being said that this percentage will the change demography of the place. How is it possible?” asks Choudhary, alluding to allegations by Hindu right-wing groups that Gujjars are deliberately settling in Jammu’s Kathua in order to change the district from being a Hindu-majority to a Muslim-majority one. But he adds that the collective outrage over the Kathua case has given the community hope that the people of J&K will ensure justice for the victim’s family.In Kathua, which is 300 km from Poonch, a deathly silence envelops the home of the father (and a Bakherwal herdsman) of the murdered eight-year-old. His two-room house is locked. The family has left with its flock of sheep and entire belongings for the green pastures of Kargil, over 500 km away. A shiny metal amulet hangs on the lock, a sign that the family hopes to return.The neighbours talk about the many times they borrowed milk from the family. “My daughter looked for the victim for four days. During the search she would yell that she has prepared a chicken dish and bought chocolates, hoping to lure her out by tempting her in case she was hiding somewhere. We were neighbours,” says a Hindu who lives nearby but refused to identify herself.The incident, many locals say, has changed the dynamic between communities in Kathua. “When one goes out to get an Aadhaar card or visit the ration shop, you can feel the change in Hindu-Muslim relations,” says Choudhary Nazakat Khatana, a Gujjar and Bakherwal leader from Kathua. “I am surprised that the Gujjars, including the victim’s family, who have been living in the Rasana forests for ages, are now being looked upon with suspicion.”Question of forest rightsDeputy Commissioner, Poonch, Mohammad Aijaz, says the Gujjar-Bakherwal community only have grazing and access rights to dokes, and anyone settling illegally on forest land will face eviction.Since the Forest Rights Act, 2006 is not applicable in J&K, no one from the community can claim ownership or settlement rights in the forest land. “Their access to forest lands is a traditional understanding only, and a purely verbal one,” says Aijaz.BJP leader and former State Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh took advantage of the absence of a land rights law for the Bakherwals to evict illegal settlements of the community in Jammu and launch an enclosure drive of the forest land. The BJP’s coalition partner in J&K, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did try to introduce a legislation on this issue in the Assembly but was stalled by the former. Ironically, the legislation on extending Forest Rights Act 2006, adopted across the country, was stalled by the BJP. The proposed Bill would have decided on granting dwelling rights to the Bakherwals within the forest land besides giving them traditional grazing rights.“We are in favour of extending forest rights to the community. Until such a law comes into force, no State law should be used to give an impression that there is an eviction drive against a particular community,” says the State Public Works Minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar.Akhtar says that Chief Minister Mufti has already issued a directive to the police that any eviction by the Forest Department, a portfolio currently held by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, should be done in consultation with Tribal Affairs Minister Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali.In contrast to the BJP’s official stand, the party’s Muslim MLA from Kalakote, Abdul Ghani Kohli, supports the extension of the Forest Rights Act to J&K. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the Forest Rights Act should be extended to tribal communities across the country. We believe that it should be. These people have been living in these forests for ages now,” he says.The communal flare-up following the Kathua rape and murder has forced the local administration to step in and douse the communal tension. In Rajouri, Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary kicked off a Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai Twenty20 cricket tournament. “Such a tournament will promote the message of peace and communal harmony. It is the best way to positively channelise the energy of the youth,” says Choudhary.Oblivious thus far to the political churn in Kathua, Begum will reach Drung next week, weather permitting. For the next six months, the eight-year-old, like others from the community, will be cut off from the rest of the State as her family’s flock grazes in the meadows. It remains to be seen what the coming winter offers them when they return to the plains of Jammu. Tahira (in red) and her family prepare a meal on Mughal Road in Jammu and Kashmir. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD “Most Bakherwals fall in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. We have only four Bakerwal girls studying, against 15 available seats,” says Kaneeza Bi, matron of the Gujjar and Bakerwal Girls Hostel in Poonch, set up five years ago to reach out to the community. The government’s 1,163 seasonal schools, including mobile teachers who move with the Bakherwals, have failed to achieve the desired objective of bringing the girls to school and teaching them to read and write. “There is a lack of awareness among the Bakherwals to send children, especially girls, to schools. The community see no tangible gains accruing from education and withdraw their children. Besides, absenteeism of mobile teachers is also responsible for the low performance of mobile schools,” says Kaneez Bi.Caught in the crossfireThe Bakherwals consider themselves children of nature. Not many remember their age, or date incidents to specific years, as they follow the seasonal ‘calendar’. It is typical to hear them say something like, “I was born when the winter was particularly severe.”The community takes pride in the fact that they can face any challenge nature throws at them. “I fear hyenas the most. They are more lethal than leopards and bears on the passes leading to the meadows of Drang in the Valley. Hyena attacks have a method to them. They strike the flock precisely when the guard is down, and attack anyone who comes between them and their prey. It is easier to tackle bears up in the Pir Panjal,” says Maroof Ahmad of Kanitar village, who will start his journey next month.The shoots of the maize crop are yet to gain height in Poonch. “That’s a signal for us to leave. We cannot raise flocks of sheep when the crops are around,” Ahmad says. He adds that he is good at the tasks he must carry out during the migration, such as counting over 200 sheep every day before dusk. “It takes over an hour to count them based on a colour coding that we do on their back. We count the flock on a daily basis when we start the migration,” says Ahmad.They might be skilled at managing the vagaries of nature, but the challenges posed by militancy are something else altogether, and the community has often been caught in the crossfire.Back in the summer of 2003, Poonch’s Hillkaka would have ended up facing a Kargil-like situation had it not been for the Bakherwals, who not only passed on crucial information but also joined the police’s Special Operation Group to lead them to the insurgent camps that had been set up at an altitude of 11,000 ft. The village elders even met the then Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, and spoke to him about “ending the militancy” in the region.“Operation Sarp Vinash lasted five months, starting in January that year. Around 300 militants were hiding in shelters established in the inaccessible recesses of the Pir Panchal range. We helped the Army reach the peaks and the hideouts. Over 60 militants were killed in the operation,” says Tahir, a Bakherwal who was one of the first members of the Village Defence Committee (VDC) that was formed to counter the insurgents.The VDCs were set up in 1995 to arm villagers in areas that were either inaccessible to security forces or highly vulnerable to militants. They were mainly concentrated in the border areas to thwart the militants. The Gujjars, stationed on the upper reaches, were trained and armed with .303 rifles for self-defence.At the receiving endThe Gujjar-Bakherwals say that they have been the backbone of the Army manning the borders. “The movement of the Bakherwals has always proved fruitful to the Army. They strengthened our defence. You cannot call them pro-Pakistani,” says Masud Choudhary, retired vice chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University in Rajouri and one of the first local police officers to have served in Kashmir, at the peak of the militancy in 1990s. “It’s not a good idea to antagonise them. One should bear in mind that they even know how to fight leopards and bears,” he adds.Their legendary bravery notwithstanding, Bakherwals such as Babu, 65, a resident of Poonch’s Degwar-Noorkote on the Line of Control (LoC), strike a despondent note. Since he lives on the other side of the Army’s fencing around the village (the Army has fenced many villages near the LoC with the idea of creating an additional buffer zone to curb infiltration by militants), Babu says that he has to register every guest or mason who comes to his house, and also his own movements in and out of the area on a daily basis. “We become the first casualty in case of shelling too. My close relative Muhammad Sadiq’s 15-year-old daughter, Shamim Akhter, died in shelling on October 2 last year. We are constantly on the edge,” Babu says.Many villages in the area have been bifurcated by Army fencing, with only a single gate on the access road for entry and exit. Villagers living inside the fenced areas must make an entry in the register every time they leave or enter the village. Anyone intending to stay out for the night must inform the Army in advance.
Low-scoring and edge of the seat exciting matches don’t mix. But Saturday’s ODI at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg not only mixed but gelled rather well with India winning the match by one run. SCOREWith this win India have squared the five-match ODI series 1-1.Man-of-the-Match Munaf Patel. APAnd the result wouldn’t have been so had India bowlers not come good at death against host South Africa.India batsmen after scoring a meagre 190 had left a lot to be done by the bowlers and still they performed.India’s Munaf Patel took the cake finishing with figures of 8-0-29-4. Undoubtedly, the wickets of openers Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.The wickets though widely spaced brought about the desired result. Amla fell early but Smith’s wicket came towards the end. In a way it was Smith’s wicket that proved to be the turning point of the match.Munaf knew that early wickets can make the difference in an ODI and he struck really early. He scalped Hashim Amla on 4 with a ball that came in from the off to take the edge of his bat and settle in skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gloves behind the stumps. The hosts were 7/1 at this juncture.Still, a target of 191 was an easy call for South Africa batsmen. And Colin Ingram and Graeme Smith wanted to make sure that it stayed easy. The two batted on to numb the Indian bowling attack and kept the Protea scoreboard ticking.advertisementThe duo had put on 59 runs for the second wicket before Harbhajan Singh claimed Ingram on 25 with the umpire adjudging him LBW even as the South Africa score was 66/2.Unfortunately for the hosts AB de Villiers, who wasn’t looking confident, fell to Ashish Nehra on eight.Later, Rohit Sharma accounted for J.P. Duminy on 13 as the South Africa score was 120/4.But, Smith was still at the crease and had found his lost form. Finally, Munaf Patel sent him back on 77 with an inside edge from his bat crashing into his stumps.At death, Zaheer Khan claimed David Miller and Johan Botha to bring India within striking distance of a victory.And then Dale Steyn’s run out and Morne Morkel’s wicket added to the excitement, but again it was Munaf who performed the final act when the hosts were just two runs away from a win with just one wicket in hand.A short ball saw tail-ender Wayne Parnell go for a big hit but Yuvraj Singh caught him at point and that was the end of South Africa batting. They could only manage 189 on board.Lonwabo Tsotsobe. APEarlier Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who had claimed four wickets in the first ODI in Durban, came up with another four-wicket haul to reduce India to 190 all out.He scalped opener Murali Vijay, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina to nip in bud any designs that the visiting batsmen had of scoring at a brisk pace.After scalping opener Murali Vijay early, Tsotsobe came back to send Yuvraj Singh packing on 53, breaking the 83-run fourth wicket partnership between him and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.Yuvraj went for a big hit but failed to cross the boundary and Dale Steyn lapped it up in the deep as India score read 150/4.That wicket started the slide as batsmen kept paying the crease quick visits.Suresh Raina, who picked up from where Yuvraj Singh had left too fell after staying in the middle for a few minutes. He had put 11 on board before Tsotsobe claimed his third wicket of the day. India score then was a poor 169/5 in 41.1 overs.Soon, he struck again to send skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni back on 38. India now were 172/6 with the tail popping up. And the tail managed to put just 18 runs before heading back to the pavilion.Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli too could not stay in the middle for long.Tendulkar fell in the 19th over when the India total was 67/3. Off spinner Johan Botha foxed Tendulkar with a turner as the batting maestro failed to read his delivery that turned in sharply from the off stump line. He fell for 24 with an edge from his bat striking against the stumps.Virat Kohli, who had scored a resolute half-century in the first ODI in Durban, was run out by David Miller in Morne Morkel’s over. He fell on 22.India skipper M.S. Dhoni had won the toss and elected to bat.The two teams now meet at Newlands in Cape Town on Tuesday.advertisement
Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi failed to notch up his third Wimbledon mixed doubles title as he and his partner Elena Vesnina were outplayed by Jurgen Melzer and Iveta Benesova in straight sets in the final here on Sunday.The fourth seeded Indo-Russian pair lost 3-6, 2-6 to their ninth seeded opponents in a 51-minute summit clash at the center court.Austrian Melzer and Czech Republic’s Benesova, who have not lost a single set on their way to the title, were the dominant pair for most part of the final match with better serve and returns.Bhupathi and Vesnina found their opponents’ serve too hot to handle most of the time as the Austrian-Czech duo had as many as seven aces to the Indo-Russian duo’s two — with Melzer serving at lightning pace without reply on many occasions.Bhupathi and Vesnina were broken serve in the fourth game as Melzer and Benesova raced to 4-1 lead before winning the first set 6-3 in 24 minutes.In the second set, Bhupathi and Vesnina were broken in the third and seventh games to lose it in 27 minutes and surrender the match.With the loss today, Bhupathi failed to equal his once estranged doubles partner Leander Paes’ 12 Grand Slam titles as he remained on 11 Major crowns — seven in mixed doubles and four in men’s doubles.Bhuapthi has not won a Grand Slam title since clinching the 2009 Australian Open mixed doubles trophy along with compatriot Sania Mirza. All of Bhuapthi’s mixed doubles titles have come with different partners.advertisementPaes has won six men’s doubles and as many mixed doubles titles.- With inputs from PTI
Story Highlights Programmes offered at the Flanker Skills Training Institute in Montego Bay, St. James, have been boosted with the provision of equipment valued approximately $3 million by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).The donation has been facilitated under a partnership with the Government of Jamaica.Speaking during the handover ceremony at the Institute on Tuesday (July 24), National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who is also the Member of Parliament for North West St. James where the centre is located, lauded CHEC for their contribution to the community, noting that “they were kind enough when I spoke to them to (commit) to provide training tools”.He pointed out that the gesture by the Chinese firm, which has been integrally involved in infrastructure developments islandwide, will enable the centre to provide skills training for more persons.This, Dr. Chang pointed out, by being utilised in a property management training course, which gets under way shortly in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA.The Minister said the course forms part of the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that there is sustainability throughout inner-city communities such as Flanker.Dr. Chang also announced that the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) will set up a simulator in the parish to train and certify individuals in the use of heavy-duty equipment by year end.Meanwhile, Acting Senior Director of the Workforce Development and Employment Division at HEART Trust/NTA, Elain Holloway, pledged the agency’s commitment to ensuring that the skills of youth in Flanker are developed to enable them to create wealth for themselves and their families.“The HEART Trust/NTA is fully supportive of any initiative which will engage our youth in the development of skills. Community training intervention is a major component of our training at the HEART Trust/NTA as we seek to take the programmes more and more into the communities and to expand the access to person’s right across Jamaica,” she explained.In this regard, Mrs. Holloway challenged the trainees to “take excellent care of these tools and equipment and the facilities, because I am sure you want to ensure that others who will come after you will be able to benefit”.For her part, Deputy General Manager of CHEC, Dr. Zhimin Hu, said the firm welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the development of Flanker.“We are mindful of the fact that sustainable development must be at the centre of the people. This approach to development will not only enable the country to achieve its goals but also help to shape the hearts and minds, values and attitudes. For this reason, we are so happy to donate the gift of tools and equipment to skills training,” she said.Additionally, she said her organisation is more than happy to be able to transfer knowledge and skill to the Jamaican people, and is committed to putting greater effort in having more local communities and people participate in opportunities being created by their projects “through jobs, training and also the company’s use of the local services provided”.“We welcome opportunities to contribute to the effort that enables individuals to grow and develop in this rapidly changing world. We take corporate social responsibility as an integral part of our company’s culture and way of doing business through education and cultural exchange, charitable support and other means. This is why we strive to build relationships based on mutual respect and shared values. Programmes offered at the Flanker Skills Training Institute in Montego Bay, St. James, have been boosted with the provision of equipment valued approximately $3 million by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). The donation has been facilitated under a partnership with the Government of Jamaica. Speaking during the handover ceremony at the Institute on Tuesday (July 24), National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who is also the Member of Parliament for North West St. James where the centre is located, lauded CHEC for their contribution to the community, noting that “they were kind enough when I spoke to them to (commit) to provide training tools”.