Kashmir boogies to winter’s warmth

first_imgIt’s chilly around the Dal lake on Saturday afternoon, but a cruise-houseboat with an open-air theatre sets off to generate warmth with live music and enthusiastic youngsters.In a bid to reclaim lost social spaces and nose-diving tourism, the Jammu & Kashmir tourism department has started ‘Valley Weekends’, an initiative to infuse new life into the otherwise dull weekends in the conflict-ridden Valley.“The open-air houseboat will be like an open-air theatre. People will perform every weekend. The idea is to revitalise social spaces and defeat the notions that winters are dull in the Valley. And the fact is youngsters want to come out and experience things,” said Sarmad Hafeez, secretary, tourism. The initiative involves heritage walks, ethnic food festivals and music shows across the Valley. “Tourists can now relish hareesa, a local winter meat dish served in breakfast, at a new joint started at Boulevard on Saturday. The idea is to expose tourists to local flavours and also the flavours of the different seasons. Autumn and winter seasons are equally enjoyable in Kashmir as summers,” said Mr. Hafeez.Protests dent tourism Street protests and militant violence in the past two years dented the tourism sector in Kashmir, with the peak season in 2017 witnessing “an 80% slump”. The weekend festivals, offering experiences and a host of entertainment activities, are aimed at reviving tourist footfalls. Mountain biking, canoeing and rowing will now be a weekend fixture.“‘Valley Weekends’ will help keep youth engaged with the activities and make Kashmir a lively place for tourists,” said director, tourism, Mahmood A. Shah.He said “it will send a positive message across the globe that Kashmir is a safe and a tourist-friendly place”.last_img read more

Set up anti-trafficking units, HC tells W.B.

first_imgThe Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal government to set up an anti-human trafficking unit headed by a specially trained officer, preferably a woman, in every district of the State.Any FIR registered under the sections of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956, and sections 370, 372, 373 of the Indian Penal Code or under the provisions of the POCSO Act, involving commercial sexual exploitation of women, should be investigated by the anti-human trafficking unit, the High Court said in its order. The police station where the FIR is registered will hand over such cases to the unit in 24 hours, stated the order delivered last week by a Division Bench of Justices Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi.Alarming numbers The direction assumes significance as Bengal has recorded the maximum cases of trafficking in the country. According to the latest NCRB data, Bengal in 2016 recorded 3,579 cases of human trafficking (44%) among 8,132 cases recorded in the country. The Bench gave the order while cancelling the anticipatory bail granted to Sangita Sahu, owner of a hotel in Joka area, by a lower court.She is accused under ITPA, POSCO Act and sections of IPC dealing with human trafficking. The Bench noted that “the menace of trafficking of women and minors have assumed alarming proportions”, and expressed concern over the “lackadaisical manner in which offences involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children like the present one are investigated, prosecuted and/or pursued”. The High Court’s direction has been welcomed by a number of non-government organisations working against commercial sexual exploitation of children and women.Saji Philip, director of operations, International Justice Mission, Kolkata, the organisation which aided the investigative agencies in the raid at Ms. Sahu’s hotel in September 2017 where 30 people were arrested, called the order a “fresh lease of life in dealing with cases relating to trafficking of children and women”. “This order will strengthen existential directives and aim at fixing the lacunae in each step of trafficking cases, including rescue, rehabilitation and prosecution,” Mr. Philip said.last_img read more