For the last three decades or so, Delhi has been exposed to the glories of Kashmiri food. Or, to be more specific, Wazwan. It is a banquet conjured up entirely of lamb and it is cooked by a community of caterers called wazas. Kashmiri ‘Waza’ (Chef), is no longer a male dominated job in the Valley as for the first time, nearly half a dozen ladies from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district under the assistance of J&K Rural Livelihoods Mission’s (JKRLM) UMEED scheme have successfully been able to serve famous delicacies to the people and have earned their name as well. This is first of its kind instance of women empowerment by providing them confidence and the support of all kinds that they needed to showcase their talent.

One of the members of Self Help Group—Khushbu, Humaira explained that they have been engaged with UMEED since 2013. They faced many odds, but did not stop as knew that UMEED is going to provide them many benefits in the near future. Besides Humaira, Ishrat Irshad, Zahida Basheer, Akhtar Jan and Yasmeena Bano are co-helpers of Khushbu.  Humaria, who hails from Lar area of Ganderbal claimed that Kashmiri Waza was a male dominated job, however we managed to get engaged in this field since we started our trainings at Solina. Their happiness was emanating from their faces while they were being interviewed. This is a large change in the outlook towards women and gender roles. Its impact are far reaching, it would give more fruits with the time when other women shall also get work for maintaining their names in the society.

They successfully set up units and are being invited for many functions like engagements and other marriage-related events as well. “Though, they don’t have any restaurant, but last year, they prepared food for the Amarnath Yatries at the base camp while some of girls were running a canteen at Rambagh as well. Humaira is another member of Self Help Group, who has installed her cart at NRLM’s SARAS at Boulevard in Srinagar. She appealed to girls not to let their passion down and work hard to achieve their goal. This story is quite inspiring for whole Kashmir that it has the capacity to single-handedly change the overall scenario of job creation. Kashmiris have always been stuck to government jobs or been dreaming so given the pressure from the society. Kashmiri society needs a change in overall perspective to become an inclusive society and accept the different roles and jobs condone by the highly talented youth of Kashmir.

On Feb 26, the terrorists fired upon an innocent Kashmiri Pandit Sanjay Sharma. He was working as an armed guard in the local Bank Branch in his village, in Achan area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

A sober and pleasant person Sanjay Sharma was a strong believer of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. It was second such victim in the area in past 30 years when the mass killings of Kashmiri Pandits took place. The last killing of a Kashmiri Pandit, Janki Nath, took place at the hands of terrorists in 1990. However, the family of Sharma took a bold decision to stay back, unlike hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits who along with their families the valley and settled in other parts of the country. This belief was shattered badly in the broad day light with the killing of a stringent believer of the communal harmony. KRF condemns the attack in strongest terms.

The India Today Tourism Survey has chosen J&K Tourism for best adventure tourism destination award. The awards were given away at New Delhi by Union Minister of State for Culture & Parliamentary Affairs, Arjun Ram Meghwal yesterday at a glittering function after the results of the survey were announced.

The award has been given to the Tourism Department in recognition of its sustained efforts in promoting Gulmarg as an adventure destination of international order.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Meghwal highlighted the value of tourism in contributing to the GDP of the country. He said Tourism can increase all the three components of the GDP—consumption through domestic travel, investment through the booming private sector and exports through the sale of locally made handicrafts and products to foreign tourists.

In his address, Union Tourism Secretary, Arvind Singh gave an overview of the steps being taken by the Union Government to further improve the tourism sector.

Editor, India Today Group, Raj Chengappa welcomed the participant States and UTs and gave a broad outline of the survey.

The award was received by Deputy Director, Tourism, Alyas Ahmad on behalf of the Department.

Ministers from Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, representatives of Tourism Boards of several states and UTs, representatives of national travel trade and business bodies were present on the occasion.

On the sidelines of the event, discussions on best practices and sustainable tourism were held.

It may be recalled that the India Today award comes just within a month of the South Asian Travel Trade Expo(SATTE), one of the best trade expos in the country in which the J&K Tourism Department was awarded for its efforts in post COVID-19 recovery of the tourism sector.

It is in place to mention here that last year J&K received a record number of tourists and the Department for the last two years has been consistently diversifying its tourism products which has gone well among the tourists.

The Department during the last two years has taken several new initiates for the quick revival of tourism in the UT. This winter, besides Gulmarg, resorts of Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Doodhpathri and other resorts were kept open and these destinations received a considerable footfall.

Besides, new trekking routes, rafting and adventure activities were added to the recreation portfolio for sustaining the interest of coming tourists. This is besides the opening of new areas like Gurez and other border areas for tourism which have enhanced the attraction and urge for visiting J&K. Last year Gurez was adjudged as the best offbeat destination in the country.

A Welcome Step

In his first ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of the year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke about snow cricket matches at the Winter Games in Kashmir and called it an “extension of the Khelo India movement”

During the 97th edition of his monthly radio address, Prime Minister Modi also urged visitors to attend such events whenever they plan a trip to Kashmir.

“Winter Games were held in Syedabad, Kashmir. The theme of these Games was – Snow Cricket! You might think Snow Cricket would be a very exciting game – and you are absolutely right. more amazing in the snow.

Through this, there is also a search for young players in Kashmir, who will later play in the Indian team. In a way, it is also an extension of the Khelo India movement. In Kashmir, there is a lot of enthusiasm among the young people regarding the sport. In the times to come, many of these young people will win medals for the country and raise the tricolor. I would suggest that next time you are planning a trip to Kashmir, take time to visit such events. These experiences will make your trip even more memorable,” Modi said.

Jammu and Kashmir has been producing some really exciting cricketing talent lately. One of the brightest emerging talents here is rhythm sensation Umran Malik. The 23-year-old is also known as ‘Jammu Express’.

Umran has been acclaimed across the globe following his exploits in the 2022 Indian Premier League which saw him claim 22 wickets in 14 matches with bowling best figures of 5/25. Legendary point guards Dale Steyn (also the bowling coach of Umran Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL team) and Brett Lee are among the powerhouse figures in the sport who were impressed by Umran’s blistering pace which allowed him to to easily cross the 150 mark in bowling.

He represented India in eight ODI matches, in which he won 13 wickets with the best bowling figures of 3/57. Umran also played in seven T20I matches for India in which he won nine wickets with the best bowling figures of 3/48. His wicket-taking ability and knack for disrupting a batter’s footwork with his pace made him an exciting talent to watch. Umran is currently part of India’s T20I squad for the ongoing series against New Zealand. The second T20I will be played in Ranchi on Sunday.

Credits: The Global Kashmir

On Jan 22, one innocent Kashmiri was injured in a grenade attack by terrorists in Srinagar. The grenade was lobbed by terrorists in Eidgah area which caused splinter injury to Ajaz Ahmed Deva, S/o Abdul Rasheed Deva aged 32 years, a resident of Sangam, Srinagar. KRF condemns the attack and violence created through these nefarious acts subjected to cause psychosis in general public.

This came a day after the union territory witnessed at least three back-to-back bomb explosions, hurting seven people. The blasts in the transport yard of Narwal were triggered by suspected terrorists at a time when security agencies in the region are on high alert amid the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress and the upcoming Republic Day celebrations.

According to an official, the first blast occurred around 10.45 am, followed by another explosion, an official said, adding that the whole area was cordoned off and a search operation was underway.

Jaswinder Singh, an eyewitness, said the first blast occurred in a vehicle that was sent to a workshop for repairs. Fifteen minutes later, another explosion nearby littered the area with damaged parts and garbage, said Singh, chief of the Motor Spare Parts Association. Five people were injured in the first blast and two more in the second, he added.

Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) on Thursday approved an “Apple Cluster” for Shopian district in Jammu and Kashmir under Cluster Development Programme.

This was announced during a daylong conference on ‘India Cold Chain Conclave’, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in conjunction with the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.

During the conference, Secretary MoAFW, Manoj Ahuja, formally announced the decision with regard to setting up of the Apple Cluster for the district under Cluster Development Programme and nod to the ‘Acceptance Letter’ to J&K for implementation.

The Shopian Apple Cluster envisages development of Shopian Apple on three verticals including pre-production-production, post-harvest management and value addition and logistics, marketing and branding to make it globally competitive.

Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo, while highlighting broad contours of the project, said that Agriculture Production Department, with the technical support of National Horticulture Board and Grant Thorton (Ministry’s Consultants for the CDP) invited RFPs for selection of Implementing Agencies (IAs) to execute the verticals in Shopian district and M/s FIL emerged as the successful Implementing Agency for the project.

The project is estimated to cost Rs 135.23 crore, of which, about Rs 37.05 crore would be provided by the MoAFW as grant- in- aid. The IA shall provide an equity to the tune of Rs 29.91 crore and raise a term loan of Rs 68.27 crore.

The project is expected to be implemented in four years and it is expected to transform the landscape of the horticulture eco-system of Shopian district.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has implemented the Denmark model to increase milk production by 41 percent in the next five years.

Currently, the annual milk production in Jammu and Kashmir is 26 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT).

 An official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has set the target to increase the annual milk production to 44 LMT.

“Under the programme Per Animal Productivity will be increased from 2400Litres Per Animal (LPA)  to 4300L PA. The annual milk production in Jammu and Kashmir will be increased from 26 LMT to 44 LMT,” it said

The document said that Jammu and Kashmir has a large dairy population, however, their productivity is fairly low.

“In terms of Artificial insemination, only 30% of the dairy animals are being provided breeding coverage.  Further due to the shortage of heifers around 20,000 dairy animals of unknown genetic merit are being imported every year. Against 35%, only 3-4% of milk enters organized processing and value chains for milk processing, especially at village levels are lacking,” it said.

Under Rs 370.51 crore dairy development programme, the government is planning to push milk production. The focus will be on breeding quality genetic material to uplift the dairy industry.

“The programme will aim at increasing Artificial Insemination(AI) centers from 1389 to 2189 through 800 Private AI workers. Murrah buffalo breeding farm will be established and output from Semen Stations will be doubled (9 to 19 lacs doses per animal).  We will set up 400 satellite heifer-rearing units,” it said.

The government has also decided to augment milk processing capacity and strengthen marketing and value addition. “There will be a four times increase in milk collection. At least 110 lakh liters of additional milk shall be value added at village levels every year through Self Help Groups,” the document said.

Dr. Arif Bashir Technical officer Agriculture Production Department told The Kashmir Monitor that they will follow the Denmark model to increase milk productivity in the union territory.

 “Currently the milk production growth rate in Jammu and Kashmir is at the rate of 3.5 percent per year. We have envisioned taking the yearly milk production to 4468000LMT by 2027 and finally 98 LMT by 2047. Our benchmark is Denmark where an average cow gives 9000 liters of milk per year,” he said.”

Dr. Arif said that many interventions are being brought to make Jammu and Kashmir one of the leading milk-producing union territories.

“We will be working on various components including 70 percent Artificial Insemination coverage in five years. Milk value addition is one of the prime focus as milk products including ghee, butter, and cheese will be produced in bulk. Similarly, we are also working under the programme to bring down the fodder deficit from 41 to a mere 8 percent,” he said.

Writer: Firdous Hassan

            When the Kashmiris were soundly celebrating the new year eve, cultural dance performances, live musical concerts were going on, pictures with snow man were being captured; an unfortunate incident took place in the Bellow village of Pulwama district. CRPF deployed for the safety of the local Kashmiris to thwart any possible untoward incident in the area was discussing the normalcy brought out by the joint efforts of local community and the security forces. Seemingly everything was well toned and certainty of any terror attack was scare. Out from the pedestrians one youth snatched a rifle from one CRPF personnel and flee from the spot. The area was bulked with the passersby and nobody had any idea of what had happened. Whilst a scream was heard about rifle snatching and in fury it spread like fire. Meanwhile the news reached home of the Soba Ganie, who had hid it at some secret place. Soba Ganie aged 25 years shared the whole incident with his family members thinking that his family would hail him. However to his utter surprise, he was badly scolded and admonished. Seeing the disapproval of his family, Soba turned nervous as family members took to this task harshly. They made Soba to rub his nose onto sputter on ground. Stun and still Soba was refrained from entering the kitchen. Boycott from his family reimbursed him to immediately quit the hangover of gun culture. This momentous instance left a remarkable impact on the radical young man and forced his curiosity to imbibe the wisdom from his grave mistake. Though the people around him were still discussing and skimming about the incident, Soba had been in chill of his thoughts, as to why he felt into the trap of the pseudo-intellectuals. This time his mind could relate every hustle and bustle to possible consequence. Deep in his thoughts Soba was paying gigantic gratitude to his family for halting him in the jiffy of craziness, when his mind had been blocked due to the misguidance from his peers.

            After some time, when the search operation had already been launched by the joint teams of the security forces, Soba entirely shaken had decided to return back to the mainstream. Outwardly the incident looked like having an execution period of few hours  — CASO and arrest — but the reality had been a mixture of timely puzzle and bewilderment in bulk. After having been all ears to the family, the rifle was handed back to the security forces and a future of a youth was saved. The positive role of the wise family in this case serves as an example for the rest of families of Kashmir, whose sons have either directly or indirectly been involved in the terror nexuses. The spirit of Kashmiriyat was saved by the family with a surprising instance of handing over the weapon to security forces.

            It needs to be taken into mind that during the past, a lot of Kashmiri youth have lost their lives to the bullets in view of their adamant behaviors and misguidance from the inimical elements. Nevertheless the role played by the family unlike past incidents requires higher appreciation. The role of family is crucial in safeguarding their wards from the menace of terrorism. And in this case as well, the active role of family brought back the misguided youth from a dead end to survival zone. Humanistic way of purifying the youth from the gun culture is dire need of the hour. Additionally it is an effective and easy way to disarm the ideology of the youth maligned with the radicalism.

When Danish Nabi alias Daniyal set out on a journey to follow his dreams, little did he know that he would come to be known as the ‘Ibn Battuta of Kashmir’ for exploring adventure tourism in the Valley. A 30-year-old enthusiastic traveller, Danish did not spend a single idle Sunday over the last decade as he set out on foot or on a bicycle to explore the Valley, starting from his own home district — Bandipora.

Danish turned an explorer in his early twenties, same as Ibn Batuta, and hence drew parallels with the famous explorer in the lands of Afro-Eurasia. Danish has, so far, rediscovered more than a dozen Alpine lakes of Himalayan ranges in the Bandipora district, thereby making little, yet significant, contribution to boosting adventure tourism in the Kashmir Valley after a prolonged spell of dormancy because of political strife.

He said tourism in Kashmir was previously restricted to visiting a few select and popular locations, including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Dal Lake. However, the real Kashmir is up in the mountains, which used to draw adventure-seekers from Europe by the droves before the Valley came to be racked by militancy from the late eighties.

Every weekend, Danish sets out on a journey to the mountains on his bicycle or on foot, exploring lakes and meadows and finding previously unknown tourist destinations.

“I have religiously followed my schedule. I haven’t wasted a single Sunday. Sunday is my day. Come what may, I set out for a journey every weekend,” he said. So far he has re-discovered more than a dozen alpine lakes in the Bandipora and Gurez sectors of J&K, in the Himalayas, thus lifting prospects of adventure tourism in the Valley.

According to the J&K’s Department of Forests, there are 100 Alpine lakes in the Bandipora district but only one or two, including Sheerasar, have been visited by adventure tourists in the past few years.

Danish has re-discovered Shalpooth lake, 3 Handmarg or Handmenger lakes, Kaul Sar lake, Kiser Sar, two Patalwan lakes, a Kothapatri lake in the Gurez sector and Shera Sar, Sarbal lake, two Kundapani lakes, Chamarsar, Zadsar and Salnai Sar in Bandipora area. He has also explored Chota Amarnath and Bazar Hoi caves in Bandipora, Yemberzalwari cave in Sopore, Sheikhul Aalam cave in Budgam and Kalaroos caves in Kupwara.

Danish captures his expeditions on his GoPro camera and posts them on his YouTube channel for the benefit of other adventure tourists. The ‘Ibn Battuta of Bandipora’ has explored these lakes multiple times and found multiple trekking routes for future travellers. All the routes have been recorded and geo-tagged by him.

“I do record the trails and treks besides posting them on YouTube for future travellers,” he said. Last year Danish became the first person in India and across the globe to scale Razdaan Top (11672 feet) on a bicycle. He cited his passion for mountain cycling as the reason behind his adventure streak.

He said he chose the Gurez sector for his weekend expeditions for two reasons — firstly, Gurez lies in his home district and secondly, it has been ignored by other cyclists and needs to be explored for its immense natural beauty. He said he is in love with the mountains and explores new locations to promote adventure tourism in Kashmir, besides fulfilling his desire to scale mountain tops.

“In the recent past, tourism in the Valley was only about sightseeing. But there is beauty beyond the meadows as there is a huge potential for adventure tourism which can attract tourists from the west,” he said.

He said that during the dark days of militancy in the Valley, adventure tourism came to a standstill and the virgin locations disappeared from people’s minds.

“People sitting at home still believe that there is a war raging up on the mountains. But the fact is that peace prevails in the mountains currently,” he added.

He further added that after travelling solo to these places he decided to record his travels and post it on his YouTube channel. His posts have received an overwhelming response and more and more people have started visiting these places.

The young traveller said exploring new places has helped locals earn a livelihood. He said after his visits to several lakes in Bandipora, many traveller groups approached him for guidance and villagers found a source of livelihood by serving as guides and providing horses and meals to travellers.

Kudara residents have formally started providing traditional tea and Makki ki Roti to travellers besides accompanying them on their treks as guides and renting out their horses,” he added.

His expeditions and following have earned him many nicknames, including ‘Ibn Battuta of Kashmir’, ‘Mad Man’ and the ‘Mountain man’. Danish said he loves his nicknames. It is because of his endeavours that the Bandipora district administration in 2020 roped him in as an advisor to promote adventure tourism and a few locales, including Daetwas, Sheerasar, and Nagmarg routes were prepared by the Forest department for trekking. He said the Valley, especially Bandipora, is heaven for adventure tourists as everything that fascinates an adventure seeker is here.

“I wish people would reserve their Sundays for such travels and work for other days of the week,” he said.

“If people can set out for such treks on Sundays, it will reduce their stress levels and help them stay in shape mentally and physically,” he added. He said, “My friends and relatives think I travel every day but the fact is that I travel only on weekends and work on other days of the week.”

Danish is a government employee posted at the mini-secretariat in Bandipora. He added that he idolises Dr Shariq Masood, a noted doctor at SKIMS and an avid traveller like himself, and urged everyone to follow in his footsteps.

He said the doctor has never practised on a Sunday over the last two decades as he reserves it for his travels. “He could have earned thousands on Sundays but refused as he likes to keep that day for himself,” Danish added. “Doctors usually recommend walks and physical exercises to their patients but they work even on Sundays,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir has been expecting fresh boost to tourism and industrial investments from abroad with participation of a high-level delegation of the Union Territory officers in London conclave from December 8-12.
The industrial investments are around Rs 60,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir after the launch of new Industrial Investments Policy while number of the tourists visiting the Union Territory including the Kashmir valley has also touched all-time high.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Institute of Directors (IoD), a top level international body, will be involved in five days tourism and industrial promotional programme at London. The Jammu and Kashmir delegation will be led by Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta and comprised Principal Secretary Industry and Commerce Prashant Goyal and Tourism Secretary Sarmad Hafeez.
“It is a major international platform where Jammu and Kashmir will promote tourism and industrial development opportunities in the Union Territory,” the sources said, adding that the visit is expected to be very successful going by the response already being received from abroad.
Number of tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir including the Valley has touched new highs, which has also found mention in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. And, the numbers continue to go up.
Besides domestic tourists, Jammu and Kashmir has also received tourists from abroad.
Jammu and Kashmir got encouraging response from Dubai in industrial investments after visit of the Lieutenant Governor to the Gulf. Several top Industrialists have assured investments in the Union Territory and signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the administration.
The groundbreaking ceremony of Rs 38,080 crore worth private investment proposals in Jammu and Kashmir was performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 24 this year. However, total proposals for investments received by J&K Government were close to Rs 60,000 crore.
But the Government has exhausted Land Bank by allotting land to the investors whose groundbreaking ceremony has already been performed by the Prime Minister.
The Government has now acquired new land for creation of Land Bank after completion of all formalities.
The private investment proposals, which are pending before the Government, will be cleared after development of Land Bank.
The Government has also approved setting up of 22 Medi-Cities in Jammu and Kashmir at the cost of Rs 4400 crore.
“The Medi-Cities will include private hospitals, Medical Colleges etc,” the sources said, adding that with this the MBBS seats in Jammu and Kashmir will go up by 900.
Sources said the Government is anticipating private investments in Jammu and Kashmir to further go up once the pending proposals are cleared.
Some proposals for development of private Industrial Estates have also been received by the Industries Department from Samba and Kathua districts while many more are in the pipeline. Response to develop ‘Private Land Banks’ for industrial development has been very encouraging,” sources said.
Officials expressed confidence that with development of ‘Private Land Bank’, the Government will be in a position to accommodate more private investments in Jammu and Kashmir as there were reports that investments might touch Rs 75,000 crore shortly as many corporate houses are in touch with the administration for investing in different sectors in the Union Territory.