The J&K government on Thursday announced 10-day summer vacations, despite pleasant weather, to coincide with the protest calendar of the militant United Jehad Council (UJC) on the first death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. In the past, summer vacations were announced in the third week of July for schools in the valley.A government order said all educational institutions up to the higher secondary level in Kashmir “shall observe summer vacation from July 6 to July 16”.As schools and colleges remain restive in the Kashmir valley this year, the vacations starkly coincide with the UJC’s weeklong protest programme starting July 8, the day Hizbul commander Wani was killed in an encounter last year, fuelling a five-month long unrest that left over 93 civilians dead and more than 15,000 injured. The UJC has called for a shut down on July 8 and 13.Independent legislator Engineer Rasheed said there was no justification for the vacations. ‘Working days lost’“Most working days in educational institutions have been wasted due to law and order problems. The government seems to have given into Syed Salahuddin’s protest calendar,” said MLA Rasheed. He said vacations were usually declared when the temperatures reach its peak, “However, this year, the temperatures are comparatively moderate.”Netizens also took potshots at the government. “Summer vacations with students wearing woollens comes as a surprise,” wrote a Facebook user.
As India’s love for sport utility vehicles (SUV) revs into top gear, German luxury carmaker BMW on Thursday launched its new SUV, X1, in India priced between Rs 22 lakh to Rs 29.9 lakh (ex- showroom Delhi). The car will be available in both petrol and diesel variants.While the petrol version will be available at Rs 22 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India), the diesel variant will have two options, priced at Rs 23.9 lakh and Rs 29.9 lakh (ex-showroom, all-India), respectively.The diesel variant of X1 has an engine with power of 177 brake horse power (BHP) and torque of 350 Nm ranging from 1750 to 3000 rpm. The petrol engine gives a power of 150 BHP with a torque of 200 Nm at 3600 rpm.BMW claims that the diesel variant takes 8.3 seconds to attain a speed of 100 kmph, whereas the petrol variant takes 10.4 seconds. All X1 variants have six speed automatic gearboxes.BMW already has two SUV models in India ‘X3’ and ‘ X5’. This SUV will be positioned below them.Last year, the Indian auto market saw as many as half a dozen new SUV launches, including many high- end luxury SUVs.These include Audi Q7, Hyundai Santa Fe, Tata Aria, whereas Audi had earlier launched Q5.French auto major, Renault, too, is planning to launch SUV Koleos in the Indian market in mid- 2011.The price will be a major advantage for the firm. This compact SUV will not only divert some traffic from its German counterparts but will also be pitched against Toyota Fortuner priced at ` 19.64 lakh, Nissan X- Trail ( Rs 21.7-26 lakh), Hyundai Santa Fe ( Rs 21-23 lakh) and the Mitsubishi Outlander (Rs 20.25 lakh).advertisementThis is the cheapest car from the BMW stable in India so far. The firm said it will assemble X1 from its Chennai plant and has invested about ` 180crore to boost the production. BMW has taken over the top position from its arch- rival Mercedes- Benz. According to the latest Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers figures, BMW sold 5,345 units against 5,109 units sold by Mercedes- Benz during January- November this year.The company is quite bullish about the response of its new SUV in the India market.”We already have 1,000 orders for the BMW X1 and we are sold out for the first quarter of the next year. We expect the X1 to be the biggest volume model for BMW in India,” Andreas Schaaf, president, BMW India said.”India is still a growing market, it is not yet matured and we are creating a market with the launch of new vehicles. If the market continues to grow at 25 per cent, in ten years time India will be among the top 10 markets of BMW globally,” Schaaf said.