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Kashmir’s golden yellow autumn arrives without any tourists

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Srinagar, Sep 7 In the chirp of cicadas and the croak of frogs, the message at the moment is unmistakable. Kashmir’s golden yellow season, autumn is here. But, where are the tourists?

Trees laden with apples, pears and apricots, vineyards with drooping branches full of grapes, fields lush with melons and vegetables, and golden grain ripening in the countryside are nature’s bounties heralding the arrival of autumn in the Valley.

Autumnal nip in the morning and evening air has since times immemorial made this season irresistible for honeymooners, mountaineers, fun lovers and adventure seekers.

The bad news this year is that hotels and houseboats on the Dal and Nageen lakes in Srinagar city, as well as huts and hotels in the hill stations of Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are all shut.

The tourism blackout in Kashmir started after all visitors left the Valley ahead of the ongoing uncertainty that followed the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

This uncertainty has dealt the death blow to the local tourism industry as hoteliers, guest house and houseboat owners, taxi drivers, shikarawallas and tour and travel operators have all been thrown out of business.

“We had bookings for this autumn. Three Bollywood film units in addition to other tourists had booked with us. We had taken advances from travel operators for these bookings. All these have been cancelled for now.”

“We have shut operations till the next spring. How will we remain in circuit till we open up next year is beyond our comprehension?” said Mir Suhail, owner of a hotel in Sonamarg hill station.

Suhail’s story is repeated almost word for word by hotel owners in Pahalgam and Gulmarg. “We had guests even during the worst periods of turmoil in early and mid 1990s. This time, it looks like the doomsday for our profession,” said Altaf, manager of a hotel in Gulmarg ski resort.

Despite the mesmerising beauty of streams, meadows and mountains, the resorts in Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg wear a deserted look and no one has any idea when and how would the tourism industry regain its lost moorings in Kashmir.

Even though the government assures major steps to bring back the industry to its full glory when the next tourist seasons begins in the Valley.

“The Maharashtra government has offered to construct two major tourist resorts, one in Pahalgam and the other in Ladakh region.”

“A film city is also proposed to be set up to woo Bollywood back to its favourite locations in Kashmir. There are other big plans to ensure that tourism in Kashmir regains its lost glory,” said a top government official.

The severe blow taken by the tourism industry in the Valley has impacted hoteliers, travel operators and taxi owners in Jammu as well.

“We have virtually no work since the present uncertainty started. All our clients were those travelling to the Valley. But now with nobody interested in going to Kashmir this season anymore, we are facing a serious crisis,” said Ramesh Gupta, a tour and travel operator in Jammu city.

Kashmir without any tourist in autumn is unimaginable. And yet, it is the reality with which the locals might have to live till the snow of the ensuing winter melts during the next year’s spring.

India

Pranab Mukherjee continues to be on ventilator support

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Pranab-Mukherjee

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The condition of former President Pranab Mukherjee remains critical but has not worsened, his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee said on Friday.

Doctors attending on the 84-year-old former president at the hospital said his condition remained unchanged on Friday morning.

Mukherjee was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi cantonment on Monday and was operated for the removal of a clot in the brain. He had also tested positive for COVID-19.

“The condition of Hon’ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee remains unchanged this morning (14 August 2020). He is under intensive care and continues to be on ventilatory support. His vital parameters are presently stable,” the hospital said in a statement.

The former President’s daughter took to Twitter after the medical bulletin, saying his condition has not worsened.

“Without getting into medical jargons, whatever I could understand from the last two days is that though my dads’ condition continues to remain very critical, it hasn’t worsened. There’s little improvement in his eyes’ reaction to light,” she said.

Mukherjee served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017.

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AIIMS doctor found hanging in his house in South Delhi

He was a permanent resident of Panchkula, Chandigarh and had been living alone in this room since 2006.

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AIIMS

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The decomposed body of a 40-year-old AIIMS doctor was found hanging at his house in South Delhi’s Gautam Nagar.

According to the police, the body of Doctor Mohit Singhla was found in a decomposed state in the room, a suicide note was also found later in the evening in which he did not blame anyone for his death.

The police received a PCR call at around 3:10 pm on Friday. The caller informed that a foul smell coming from the house in Gautam Nagar. Immediately a team rushed to the spot, and the police found the decomposed dead body of a person hanging in a room locked from inside, on the second floor of the house.

An investigation revealed that the deceased was a doctor working at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“Doctor Mohit Singhla was posted in the department of Paediatrics and initial investigation revealed that he last joined his office on Tuesday,” said Atul Thakur, DCP South Delhi.

It is also suspected that Doctor Mohit may have taken the extreme step one or two days before his body was found.

A suicide note has been recovered in which the doctor said that ‘there is no need to live a long life’.

“His parents have told the police that he has attempted suicide earlier too and that he was in depression,” said a senior police officer

He was a permanent resident of Panchkula, Chandigarh and had been living alone in this room since 2006.

“We have initiated the proceedings under section 174 CRPC,” said the officer.

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Monitoring committee’s powers clipped, SC deseals residential premises

The bench observed that in the teeth of various statutes, the monitoring committee would act strictly within the four corners of the powers conferred on it by the apex court.

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The Supreme Court on Friday said that it would not be appropriate for the monitoring committee to usurp statutory powers and act beyond the authority conferred upon it by the top court.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said, “We quash Report No. 149 and other reports submitted subsequently in connection with Report No. 149 and the entire action of sealing pursuant thereto.”

On April 2, 2019, Report No. 149 was submitted by the Monitoring Committee concerning specific unauthorised constructions allegedly carried out in the Vasant Kunj and Rajokari area.

These constructions were not on public land. The respective persons owned the land, and the committee had submitted that a letter was received from the SDM, Mehrauli, on February 22, 2019 regarding unauthorised construction in Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

“The Monitoring Committee could not have sealed the residential premises, which were not misused for the commercial purpose as done vide Report No. 149, nor it could have directed the demolition of those residential properties,” said the top court.

The bench said the property sealed as per report No.149 be deA-sealed, and possession be restored to the owners forthwith.A “Let this order be complied with within three days”, said the top court.

However, the top court clarified that this order does not at all mean to belittle the yeomen service done by the monitoring committee for protection of Delhi.

“No doubt about it that matter of encroachment is a matter of concern, but the Monitoring Committee can act within the four corners of powers conferred upon it and purpose for which the court appointed the Monitoring Committee. It cannot exceed its powers and take any action beyond its authorization by the court,” noted the top court.

The bench observed that in the teeth of various statutes, the monitoring committee would act strictly within the four corners of the powers conferred on it by the apex court.

“When we consider the various orders passed by this Court from time to time, before the constitution of the Monitoring Committee, we find that this Court at no point in time has empowered the Monitoring Committee to take action with respect to residential premises not used for commercial purposea,” observed the top court.

The monitoring committee comprises K.J. Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner; Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority; and Major General (Retd) S.P. Jhingon. The committee was set up on March 24, 2006, by the top court.

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