Jammu, Feb 14: Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu, Chairman, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), presided over the 37th Board Meeting held at Raj Bhavan here on Friday.
Regarding the duration and date of commencement of the Yatra 2020, based on the approach set out by the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Committee, which had been set up to advise regarding the duration and schedule of future Yatras, the Board, keeping in view the foremost concern of the safety and security of the pilgrims, decided that a 42-days Yatra would commence on 23rd June, 2020, on the day of Jagan Nath Rath Yatra as per Hindu Calendar, and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on 3rd August, 2020.
The Board noted the steps taken by CEO for the registration of pilgrims through 442 designated branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank, located in 32 States and UTs, and directed him to take all the required steps to commence Advance Registration of pilgrims w.e.f. from 1st April 2020. Considering the success of Pilot Project of Online Registration of limited number of intending Yatris in 2019, the Board decided to increase the quota of Online Registration.
The Board further directed for wide publicity through the electronic and print media, informing the intending Yatris to timely secure the prescribed Compulsory Health Certificates issued by the Doctors/ Hospitals nominated by their home States or UTs and only thereafter proceed to seek Advance Registration from the nearest located designated Bank which would issue the pilgrim a Yatra Permit valid for the specified date and route. The Board also advised CEO to appeal to all the potential pilgrims to consult their doctors before embarking on the pilgrimage. The CEO shall also widely publicize that no person below the age of 13 years and above the age of 75 years shall be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage.
The Board directed the CEO to take timely steps for ensuring uninterrupted telecom connectivity in the Yatra area. Appreciating the important services rendered by the Langar Organizations, the Board looked forward to their continued support during the ensuing Yatra.
The Board directed the CEO to caution all potential pilgrims to particularly take into account the difficult climate and terrain in the high altitude region of the Yatra and prepare themselves fully before embarking on the pilgrimage. The Board also requested the intending pilgrims to make themselves physically fit for the arduous Yatra by taking regular walk and exercise. As in the past, the awareness campaign would be launched with the cooperation and support of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and all information relating to Yatra will be placed on the Board’s Website (www.Shriamarnathjishrine.com).
Noting the Chairman’s direction for sustained efforts being made to further improve the facilities to be provided to the pilgrims this year, the Board reviewed the Action Plan drawn up for the conduct of Yatra 2020, particularly the arrangements being made for providing medical care, sanitation facilities, installation of the railings at all vulnerable points along each of the two routes, measures being taken to preserve the environment of the Yatra area by ensuring removal of garbage in a scientific and environment friendly manner.
Instructions were also issued to ensure that the Yatra routes and camps remain plastic free and completely prohibited the entry of single use plastic.
Those present at the meeting included Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to the Lt Governor, BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary and Members of the Board including Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj; D.C. Raina; Pt. Bhajan Sopori; Prof. Anita Billawaria; Dr. Sudershan Kumar; Dr. C.M. Seth and Prof. Vishwamurti Shastri. Bipul Pathak, Chief Executive Officer; Anup Kumar Soni, Additional Chief Executive Officer; and other senior officers of the Shrine Board also attended the meeting.
Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits utmost priority: Shah
New Delhi, Feb 18: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits was the utmost priority of the government and assured them on their phased resettlement amid adequate security in the Valley, from where they were forced to flee in late 1989 and early 1990.
The Minister gave the assurance to a seven-member Kashmiri Pandit delegation that met him for an hour at his residence around 12.30 p.m.
The delegation included Surinder Kaul, International Coordinator of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD); Utpal Kaul, GKPD India Coordinator; Anil Kachroo, GKPD USA; Taj Tikoo, President of the All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS); Dileep Mattoo, President Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch (JKVM); and AJKVM members Sanjay Ganjoo and Parikshit Kaul.
“The Minister promised to resettle all Kashmiri Pandits in their respective districts. He also assured that the resettlement process will be done in phases amid tight security,” Utpal Kaul told IANS.
Kaul said that the Home Minister also assured the delegation that the age limit for government jobs vis-a-vis Kashmiri Pandits will be increased up to 50 years and the government will help reclaim and reparation of their encroached properties in the Valley.
“All temples in the Valley will also be renovated,” Kaul said quoting Shah.
The delegation handed over a memorandum to him to thank the Union government for abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution relating to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The delegation members expressed heartfelt thanks to the Minister for maintaining a consistent position on its promise to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley.
“The delegation also thanked the minister for abrogating Article 370 and 35A whose pernicious impact has destroyed the Kashmiri society, culture, civilization, economic progress and the ability to lead a peaceful life in the valley,” the memorandum read.
The delegation demanded the formation of an advisory council of Kashmiri Pandits to work under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs to come up with a plan for full restorative justice for the Kashmiri Pandits.
“The advisory council will have representation from mainstream community bodies, youth, women, eminent community think tank members, Jagati, rural and urban residents from the community and even overseas representation,” the memorandum added.
The delegation requested Shah to accept the community’s demand for a single concentrated rehabilitation plan, including employment and other rights, enshrined in the Constitution as well as restoration and rebuilding of temples, shrines and community assets, including crematoriums.
The Kashmiri Pandits also demanded setting up of a commission to investigate the cause of the genocide and ethnic cleansing faced by them in the Valley, with proactive steps to initiate legal proceedings and secure conviction of those responsible.
“The Minister gave a patient hearing to our demands and conveyed that rehabilitation of our community is an utmost priority with the government. He sought help from our community to compile a database of all the properties that have been either occupied or encroached upon so that the government can initiate redressal mechanisms to restore the property to the rightful owner,” the delegation said.
He assured the delegation that the temples, shrines and all other community assets will be restored and made operational at the earliest, it said.
Shah informed the delegation that a massive drive is underway to generate employment and ensure heavy investment in various sectors of the new union territory’s economy. (IANS)
Student trio sedition case: Transfer case from Hubli to Bengaluru city: 24 lawyers approach Karnataka HC
Srinagar, Feb 18: A day after lawyers thrashed three Kashmiri students, a group of 24 advocates filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing the resolution of Hubli Bar Association prohibiting its members from appearing for accused, and prayed for transferring the sedition case from Hubli to Bengaluru city for free and fair trial.
“That the ruckus caused in the Court premises and the resolution passed by the Bar Association effectively denies the accused their right to a free trial. These turbulent conditions put the physical safety of the accused at risk and may jettison public justice hence it is just and necessary for transfer of the case from that place. The transfer of the criminal case outside of Hubli to Bengaluru city will secure a free and fair trial”, reads the petition filed by B T Venkatesh and others.
The petitioners said the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association is illegal, without the force of law and violates the fundamental right of the accused under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India.
“The petitioners are all advocates practicing within the State of Karnataka. They are filing this petition as PIL, as the issues involved in this petition affect the right of legal representation of accused and the dignity of the legal profession. The issues raised herein affect the larger public interest and the fundamental right to all persons to legal representation,” reads the petition
The petitioners said the Hubli Bar resolution has resulted in the creation of an atmosphere of fear and intimidation due to which none of the advocates feel safe and secure to appear before the court. This has had a chilling effect on advocates coming forward to represent the accused, they said.
Three Kashmiri students studying Civil Engineering at KLE Institute of Technology in Karnataka on Monday were re-arrested on sedition charges and sent to judicial custody till March 2. They were first arrested on Saturday immediately after the college filed a complaint about a video in which they allegedly were chanting pro Pakistan slogans.
Earlier on Sunday, Karnataka police had released the students after they executed a bond under Section 169 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under Section 169 of the CrPc, an accused is let off when the investigating officer is of the view that there was no sufficient evidence to produce him before a court for remand.
“There are quite a few lawyers ready to fight legal battle for the accused. But the condition in the court is not good. So we have filed a petition seeking for protection and the case is posted on Thursday,” said advocate Maitreyi Krishnan, one of the petitioners.
Ahmad, brother of one of the accused students admitted they have committed a mistake but prayed for leniency. “We appeal to the government not to take any harsh step against them. Their career is at stake,” he said.
Nasir Kheuhami, spokesperson of J&K Students Association said they condemn their statement in the harshest of words. “We urge Kashmiri students to focus on their education. We appeal all students not to write provocative things on social media which could add fuel to the fire,” he said.
All party meeting: NC, PDP, Cong say no to Panchayat polls till leaders are released
Srinagar, Feb 18: Efforts to convince political parties to participate in the Panchayat polls suffered a major setback on Tuesday when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Conference (NC) and Congress reiterated their decision to stay away from the election citing prolonged detention of its leaders.
Chief Election Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar held an all party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming election for vacant Panchayat seats in the Union Territory.
However, the representatives of National Conference, Congress and PDP told the CEO to release the mainstream leaders in order to their participation in the election.
PDP’s Surinder Chaudhary, who was flanked by Narinder Singh Raina, walked out of the meeting claiming that they are not allowed to conduct political activities freely in J&K.
“I walked out of the meeting, when we realized that Chief Election Officer was bereft of any agenda. I clearly told him that the meeting was called very late as two phases of Panchayat elections were already over. We demanded release of our president,” he said.
Chaudhary said they told the CEO that democracy is nowhere seen on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir. “Our leaders are detained under Public Safety Act. Only BJP is being allowed to carry out activities while security and vehicles of rest of the political leaders have been withdrawn,” he said.
National conference leader Ratan Lal Gupta said the party is of the view that the situation is not conducive for holding elections. “The meeting should have been called much earlier to know the view of political parties about holding the polls,” Gupta said.
Congress vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga, who was accompanied by Party Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, said they raised issues of freeing detained leaders and allowing parties to conduct political activities.
“We asked CEO to ensure releasing detained leaders, their free movement and lifting of restrictions on political leaders, if they want us to participate. Otherwise the government should defer or postpone elections,” Monga said.