Kashmir, where hope and despair flit back and forth

first_imgThe gains made through the Army’s ‘Operation All-Out’ that left 212 militants dead in Jammu and Kashmir this year have been offset by the unprecedented local support to militancy, with the youth from the Valley joining its ranks in south Kashmir.Why is it a worry?The disturbing figures of November, from police data, show that at least six more local youths joined militant ranks. This happened despite the soft-approach adopted by both the Army and the police towards the locals. Armed local militants are offered the option of surrendering even while encounters are raging. They are allowed to return to a normal routine without facing any charge in police stations or forced to hand over weapons, as was the case in the past. Yet, over 150 local militants continue to be active in north and south Kashmir. As the count of the dead mounted, the Opposition National Conference (NC) sought an apology from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for failing to stop violence against civilians.The NC alleged that over 60 civilians were killed in 2017, including women and schoolchildren. Most of these civilian deaths were reported during counter-insurgency operations, especially when the people converged on the encounter site to help the trapped militants escape. Over 70 local militants were killed in such operations.According to a police assessment, around 117 locals, the highest number in the past decade, joined militancy this year. The ostensibly less militancy-affected districts in north Kashmir also showed an upward trend, with locals picking up arms: four from Kupwara, six from Baramulla and seven from Bandipora joined the ranks of militancy. This comes after the official figure of the number of local boys joining armed groups dipped to 23 in 2011.How can it be tackled?One of the biggest success stories of the security forces this year was the return of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recruit Majid Khan, 22, in Anantnag, a central district in south Kashmir. Khan, an ace footballer who bears a resemblance to English cricket all-rounder Ben Stokes, was fast emerging as a poster boy for militants. His return and the subsequent efforts of the security agencies to wean away other youths was a welcome trend. It helped that families released emotional videos to recall their sons.Over 60 youths, according to the police, have been pulled away from militancy in 2017. However, after the surrender of Majid, around a dozen cases saw the “silent return” of armed youths back to a normal routine. The rounding up of at least three local injured armed militants from encounter sites also earned the good faith of the locals for the security agencies.Will carrot-and-stick policy work?Besides extending the carrot, the security forces dented the capabilities of the militant groups to strike by regularly zeroing in on their top operational commanders, especially the LeT’s Abu Ismail and Abu Dujana, both foreigners.Several battle-scarred local commanders, including Arif Lelhari, Junaid Mattoo, Bashir Lashkari, Sabzar Bhat, Shahbaz Shafi alias Rayees Kachroo and Aijaz Mir, were killed. One top-prize, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Abdul Qayoom Najar, was killed while he was infiltrating through the Line of Control at Uri in Baramulla to revive the militant ranks in north Kashmir.With the capabilities of the LeT and the Hizbul Mujahideen dented this year, the security agencies grapple with a new challenge: resurgence of the dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammad and pro-al-Qaeda ideology group, led by local commander Zakir Rashid Bhatt alias Musa, who left the post of divisional commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen for being “too soft.” As Jammu and Kashmir stares at 2018, the State continues to slip into the hands of more hard-line militant groups in the absence of confidence-building measures to address the larger political question. The appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the Government of India’s Special Representative has raised hopes over the dialogue process, but will he be able to take everyone along?last_img read more


Colombian women’s ‘nude cycling kit’ goes viral, draws flak from UCI

first_imgThe uniform, with a flesh-colored section between stomach and thighs, was worn by the Colombian teamThe president of the International Cycling Union says the flesh-colored uniforms worn by a Colombian women’s cycling team are “unacceptable.”The uniform, with a flesh-colored section between stomach and thighs, was worn by IDRD-Bogota Humana-San Mateo-Solgar riders at the Tour of Tuscany in Italy over the weekend.The images of Colombian women’s new cycling kit has gone viral on social mediaUCI President Brian Cookson wrote on his Twitter account that “it is unacceptable by any standard of decency.”To the many who have raised the issue of a certain women’s team kit, we are on the case. It is unacceptable by any standard of decency. Brian Cookson OBE (@BrianCooksonUCI) September 14, 2014It is unclear if the six-woman team was intending to wear a similar uniform next week while representing Colombia at the road world championships in Ponferrada, Spain.Pictures of the team shared on social media prompted Cookson’s response.The British official wrote: “To the many who have raised the issue of a certain women’s team kit, we are on the case.”Among leading riders criticising the outfits was the Welsh former Commonwealth, Olympic and world road race champion Nicole Cooke.This has turned the sport into a joke. Girls stand up for yourselves – say no pic.twitter.com/Jpt1Vo9Xog Nicole Cooke (@NicoleCooke2012) September 14, 2014″This has turned the sport into a joke,” she said. “Girls stand up for yourselves – say no.”advertisementlast_img read more


Xiaomi Mi A2 is coming to India on August 8, but should you wait for the Nokia X6

first_imgXiaomi has had a pretty fantastic run in the Indian market thanks to a series of value-for-money phones in the budget and mid-range segments that have offered good design and even better hardware. One of the phones that did exceedingly well last year was the Mi A1, which was the company’s first Android One phones. People loved that the phone not only brought impressive specs, but also that ran stock Android rather than Xiaomi’s custom skin. We now have a successor in the Mi A2, which is all set to debut in India on August 8.The Mi A2 is no doubt one of the most anticipated Xiaomi phones in 2018. Fans are expecting even better specs this time around along with the goodness of Android One. And while the phone is expected to see an equally (if not more) fantastic response in India as the Mi A1, there’s another phone that could play a spoilsport to the Mi A2. HMD Global’s Nokia X6 is also expected to launch in India sometime in August or September as the Nokia 6.1 Plus, and we are seeing a lot of anticipation for that phone as well.The Nokia 6.1 Plus saw its first global launch in Hong Kong last week and is expected to make its way to a few more markets like Taiwan and Russia soon as well. While the company has not confirmed its India launch, some reports have claimed that the Nokia 6.1 Plus is bound for the Indian market as well. The phone has received a lot of positive responses from fans who have lauded its design and hardware. While the Mi A2 will largely face a stiff competition from the Nokia 7 Plus, Xiaomi’s phone may also see some threat from the Nokia 6.1 Plus as well.advertisement– The Mi A2 comes with a new design as compared to the Mi A1, but it is a design that has been tried and tested already. Xiaomi has chopped down the bezels on the front to allow for a tall 5.99-inch ‘full-screen’ full-HD+ 18:9 display. The rest of the phone is covered in metal and you also get a dual camera system and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor which makes the Mi A2 look similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro. And while this gives the Mi A2 a premium look, the Nokia 6.1 Plus takes things up a notch, literally speaking.– The Nokia 6.1 Plus comes with an all-glass design and a display notch. The Gorilla Glass back also sees a dual camera setup and a fingerprint sensor. On the front, the device sports a notch, making it the first Nokia phone to do so. The Nokia 6.1 Plus brings a 5.8-inch FHD+ (1080×2280) 19:9 display on a compact form factor. Thanks to an all-glass design and the notch, the Nokia 6.1 Plus is a little more premium, unique and 2018 in appearance which bodes well for a phone that’s expected to be priced in the Rs 20,000 segment. — Both the Mi A2 and Nokia 6.1 Plus are Android One device, which means both the phone run a clean and stock Android Oreo out of the box. It also means that both the phones will receive monthly Android security updates straight from Google and will also be eligible Android P and Android Q in the future. As far as software experience goes, both the phone are likely to offer a similar experience. So far Nokia has not disappointed with its Android One phones this year so things look positive for the Nokia 6.1 Plus as well. Xiaomi fans have also appreciated the Mi A1’s stock Android experience and timely updates, and the Mi A2 is expected to follow suit.– What does give the Mi A2 an edge over the Nokia 6.1 Plus is the processor and cameras. The Mi A2 is powered by a Snapdragon 660 chipset, which keeps it more close to the Nokia 7 Plus. The Nokia 6.1 Plus, on the other hand, gets a Snapdragon 636 chipset, which is similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro.– In real world performance, one is unlikely to feel the difference between the two processors. We tested the SD660 on the Nokia 7 Plus and were quite impressed with how well it performed no matter what we threw at it. Similarly, there is no denying that the Snapdragon 636 chipset powering the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a beast as well. So these processors in the upcoming Mi A2 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus along with an optimised Android software should offer equally impressive performance.– HMD is yet to deliver a great camera smartphone. So far, phones like the Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 6.1 have managed to deliver decent yet underwhelming camera experience, where its biggest drawback has been in low-light photography. Meanwhile, Xiaomi has been improving its camera game with each phone. The Mi A1 had some of the best cameras in its segment and was quickly succeeded by the Redmi Note 5 Pro with equally stellar cameras.advertisement — With the Mi A2, Xiaomi is touting impressive 20MP cameras. The dual camera system on the back comes with one 12-megapixel sensor and another 20-megapixel sensor, both of which have an f/1.75 aperture. On the front, the Mi A2 sports a 20-megapixel camera with soft LED flash. The cameras are heavily backed by AI and machine learning to offer good portrait shots. If the Mi A1 is anything to go by, the Mi A2 will also offer similar if not better optics.– The dual camera system on the Nokia 6.1 Plus, on the other hand, includes a primary 16-megapixel sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor. Housed within the notch on the front is a 16-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture. The cameras get some AI support as well which should help improve image quality and bokeh effect. It’s clear that the optics sound a little underwhelming on paper compared to the Mi A2, but only a hands on review will actually give us a clear picture of how well these phones perform in this department.– I would argue that there are some strong features with both the Nokia 6.1 Plus and the Mi A2. Where the Nokia 6.1 Plus looks premium and attractive, the Mi A2 looks like it will offer some really impressive cameras. If Xiaomi indeed prices the Mi A2 competitively in the Indian market as it told India Today Tech recently, then we could see a new sub-Rs 20,000 king. HMD has not been able to price its phones as competitively in India, but it has made up for it in terms of overall experience.last_img read more