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Autonomy ‘unachievable’; politicians have lied all along: Guv Malik

• ‘Militants should drop guns, have lunch with me’
• ‘Respect Hurriyat but they suffered for wrong cause’
• ‘Delimitation just a rumour’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 12: Governor Satya Pal Malik Wednesday said that autonomy and “azadi” were “unachievable” in J&K as he accused the politicians of “misleading” youth with such ideas.

Malik, during a presser at SKICC here, trained guns at the ruling elite stating that they were involved in corruption and were “lying” to people.

“Leaders have not told youth the truth. They have provoked youth with ideas like Azadi and Autonomy not telling them that these are unachievable,” the governor said.

 

Malik said the people have been shown the “dream of ‘azadi’ (independence) and sometimes that of autonomy.”

“When these things did not work, they were shown the dreams of paradise through radicalisation. I want to tell the youth that they have two paradises – one is Kashmir and if they become good Muslims, they will get the other one also,” he said.

His statement thus trashes the basic premise of both National Conference and PDP, the parties that call for autonomy and ideas related to it.

The Governor asked militants to lay down their arms and “join me for dinner.”

“I will hold a dialogue with them on how this violence will not achieve them anything. I want to make it clear that no violence can make India bend. It’s just dialogue that can win hearts. We are open for a dialogue. J&K already enjoys a separate flag. Any solution will be only within the Constitution,” said Malik.

Stressing that his dispensation was having no grudge against J&K’s mainstream political parties, Malik said he had repeatedly asked them “not to parrot separatists.”

Malik called on the political leaders to help bring back the youth to the “mainstream society”.

“They have to muster the courage and tell them. I request the mainstream leaders, preachers and intelligentsia to bring back these youth (to the mainstream) and whatever is needed for their rehabilitation, we will do it,” he said.

Malik said that in every insurgency, there comes a time when fatigue sets in and “that time has come in Kashmir.”

On Hurriyat, the Governor said he “respected them but they have suffered for the wrong cause.”

On being asked whether he was for dialogue with Hurriyat, Malik said he believes in dialogue but he “doesn’t have the mandate for it.”

The Governor said that youth in Kashmir who are picking up arms against the state “are not doing Jihad”.

“This is not jihad. I know more Islam than most Muslims although I am not a Muslim,” Malik said.

Dismissing unemployment as the reason for the youth to pick up arms, Malik said, “Unemployment is a bigger issue in other states in India, than in JK but people from other states don’t pick up arms only Kashmiri youth have.”

He said that violence is not an option for Kashmiri youth to address their issues. “Violence will not yield anything. You can defeat us with dialogue, but not with violence,” he said.

Advisor K Vijay Kumar, who accompanied the Governor, said the government was making efforts to reach out to youth of the state.

“By July 12, we will start programmes to win the hearts and minds of youth. We will make them understand to refrain from violence,” he added.

The Governor also dismissed as “rumours” the reports about delimitation of assembly constituencies in J&K.

“There is a rumour about delimitation, it is not something that can be done overnight as it is a constitutional matter. Even the Home Ministry has not confirmed that they are doing something like this. There are basically just rumours and newspaper reports only, there is no basis to these,” he said.

About the challenge to Articles 370 and 35 A, Malik said that promises to this effect have been made in the manifestos of many political parties and “there is a lot of talk about it, but there is nothing to worry about on this front.”

Asked about Pakistan’s role in Kashmir, Malik said the neighbouring country “is in trouble”.

“There is a realisation there (in Pakistan) that we cannot fool the youth of Kashmir for too long. Musharraf also said that India is a super power. Still training camps continue to run in Pakistan,” he said.

About the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the time to hold the polls will be decided by the Election Commission (EC).

“It is between the Union Home Ministry and the Election Commission. If the security we require for holding elections is provided to us, we are ready to hold the elections. We have held peaceful elections (panchayat and parliamentary) but for assembly elections, the security requirements are different,” he said.

Malik accused national media of portraying Kashmir in a bad light and stated that even a single death from Kashmir get reported for weeks while cases from other states get ignored.

“In Delhi, the press is very negative about Jammu and Kashmir. I feel very bad. Even if a single person dies here, it remains in news for two weeks. In my own district every day, five people die. Here no stone is thrown on tourists. On Meerut-Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur highway, almost every week one tourist is beaten but no one talks about it,” he said.

Malik also talked about resolving thousands of public grievances since after taking charge and said, “Most people have this complaint that they are not being heard. As of now I have heard about 70,000 grievances and took action on them. I have kept my phone opened and my WhatsApp is opened at all time.”


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Biz leaders of JK, PaK meet in Tashkent

Appeal India, Pak to resume cross LoC trade

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jun 24: For the first time since the Cross LoC trade was suspended, the business leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and Muzaffarabad met in Tashkent and decided to approach the respective governments for early resumption of the trade.

The decision was taken in a three-day conference of the business leaders of both sides of LoC, which is currently underway in the Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. Six business leaders representing Chambers of Commerce of Kashmir and Jammu are participating in the conference, which started on Sunday. 

Trade leaders from Mirpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and Traders Union Rawalakot are representing the business community of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) in the conference.

 

The three-day meet has been organized by Muzaffarabad-based Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR), which works to “promote peace and development at all levels through dialogue, reconciliation and reforms.”

On the second day of the conference on Monday, the traders resolved to convey to their respective governments the need for early resumption of cross LoC trade.

President Kashmir Chamber (KCC&I), Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, while speaking to The Kashmir Monitor over the phone from Tashkent, said the traders held threadbare deliberations on the resumption and strengthening of the Cross LoC trade.

“It was resolved that all the Chambers will take up the matter related to the reopening of Cross LoC trade with the respective governments,” he said.

On April 18, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended the Cross-LoC trade in J&K, saying that it was being used for “funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency” into the state.

More than 280 traders were hit by the decision. Figures reveal that goods worth Rs 6,900 crore were traded on both sides since the inception of the trade in 2008.

On the alleged transporting of incriminating material through the route, Ahmad said the traders pledged to push their respective governments for framing Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for ensuring greater transparency in the trade.

“We are for the transparency of the trade. Both the countries should frame SOPs wherein necessary measures should be taken to check such activities. It was made amply clear that the traders should concentrate on the trade while as the government must ensure transparency,” he said.

The participants also realised that the suspension of the Cross trade was causing huge losses to the business community on both the sides.

“Traders on both the sides of LoC are incurring huge losses. The Cross LoC trade was the biggest Confidence Building Measure between the two countries. It should be resumed immediately,” said the president, KCC&I.

He said the conference was aimed at exploring all options to ensure hassle-free trade across the border. 

Before suspension, the Cross LoC trade was being carried out for four days a week on both routes—Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote.

Started in October 2008, Cross-LoC trade was considered the mother of all confidence building measures between India and Pakistan. However, the trade could not grow beyond the barter system.

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Mehbooba welcomes Hurriyat’s readiness for dialogue

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Srinagar, Jun 24: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti Monday welcomed the Hurriyat Conference willingness to hold talks with the Centre saying it was ‘better late than never’.

“Dair aye durust aye [better late than never]. The underlying purpose of the PDP-BJP alliance was to facilitate dialogue between the GoI & all stakeholders. Tried my best to make it happen in my tenure as Chief Minister but relieved that Hurriyat has finally softened their stand,” former Chief Minister Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Mehbooba Mufti was referring to Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s call for a tripartite talk between the Kashmiri leadership, New Delhi and Islamabad for resolution of all issues, including Kashmir.

 

Besides touching on the need for a dialogue during his Friday sermons at Jamia Masjid, the Mirwaiz in his Eid-ul Fitr sermon earlier this month had sought confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan that could facilitate the revival of talks between the two countries.

Governor Satya Pal Malik, while addressing a function in Srinagar on Saturday, had said the Hurriyat had softened its stand and were ready for talks after he took charge of the state in August last year.

“The Hurriyat Conference was not willing to talk. Ram Vilas Paswan was standing at their door (in 2016) but they were not ready to talk. Today, they are ready for talks and want to hold dialogue. There is change in everyone,” Satya Pal Malik said.

The governor’s statement has given rise to speculations that the Centre might be opening dialogue channels with the separatists in Kashmir in near future.

Talks must be held with them: Farooq

Srinagar, Jun 24: Two days after Governor Satya Pal Malik said that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with the Central government, National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday asserted that talks must be held.

“The Governor says Hurriyat has agreed to talks. Then, talks should be held with them,” Abdullah told the media persons.

Contending that situation in J&K “is changing”, Governor Malik had on June 22 said that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with the Centre.

“The ones who turned back Ram Vilas Paswan from their door, they are now ready for talks. The stone pelting after ‘namaz’ is almost over. We do not like it when a youngster dies,” Malik had said at a function.

“But when a bullet is fired, bullets will be fired in retaliation. That is the reality and this change in stance by them is a welcome sign,” Malik had further added.

He had also acknowledged Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for his statement in which he had expressed concerns over the growing drug crisis in the state.

Within ‘ambit of Constitution’: BJP

Srinagar, Jan 24: BJP’s JK Affairs in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna has said that the Government of India was ready for talks with the Hurriyat ‘within the ambit of the Indian Constitution.’

Khanna also said that this was being done to win the trust of every individual in the state.

“We are open for talks. Hurriyat leaders are own people, they are the residents of J&K so they are most welcome to talk to us including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi but within the ambit of Indian constitution,” Khanna said.

Earlier, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti said that she is relived that Hurriyat has softened their stand regarding talks with the Government of India.

Recently, Governor Satya Pal Malik’s said that Hurriyat is ready for talks.

In response, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that if Government of India initiates ‘meaningful dialogue’, there will be a ‘positive response’.

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J&K Reservation Bill introduced in LS

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jun 24: People living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in professional courses on par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC), according to a bill introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.

The Bill was introduced by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah who was present in the House.

 

Some members from the Opposition wanted to oppose introduction of the bill but speaker Om Birla rejected their demand, saying they had not followed the procedure for doing so.

The bill seeks to provide relief to people living in areas adjoining the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. They can now avail benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in different professional courses.

The bill once passed by Parliament will amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 to bring persons residing in areas adjoining the IB within the ambit of reservation, on par with those living in areas adjoining the ALoC.

The rules provided for reservation in direct recruitment, promotions and admission in different professional courses to various categories, including residents of areas adjoining ALoC.

Those living in areas adjoining the IB in Jammu and Kashmir were not  included in the ambit of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 and Rules, 2005 and were deprived of benefits.

Due to continuous cross-border tensions, people living along the IB suffer from socio-economic and educational backwardness. Shelling from across the border often compels residents to move to safer places, which adversely impacts their education as schools and colleges remain closed for long periods.

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