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BJP manifesto high on ‘nationalism’: Promises abrogation of Art 35A, 370, ‘free hand’ to forces, Citizenship bill

Monitor News Bureau

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New Delhi, Apr 8: The BJP manifesto has only added to the perception that its Lok Sabha election campaign will primarily revolve around the theme of ‘nationalism’.

The party launched its manifesto Monday, promising “zero tolerance” of militancy, calling for the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A, which grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and counting the 2016 surgical strikes and the Balakot air strikes as examples of its security doctrine.

BJP, which released its election manifesto at New Delhi headquarters, said that the party reiterates its position since the time of Jan Sangh to abrogate both the articles.

 

“We reiterate our position since the time of the Jan Sangh to abrogation of Article 370. We are committed to annulling Article 35A of the Constitution of India as the provision is discriminatory against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir,” reads the manifesto.

The manifesto has been titled Sankalp Patra, means intention formed by the heart and mind.

The manifesto also talks about the return of the Kashmiri Pandits.

“We will make all efforts to ensure the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits,” read the manifesto. It said the party will provide financial assistance for the resettlement of refugees from West Pakistan, Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir (PaK) and Chhamb.

The manifesto also states that the armed forces will continue to have a “free hand” to challenge any threats. It has reasoned that in order to achieve India’s long-term goals, “we must first secure our country against internal and external aggression”.

“As we have already demonstrated, we intend to use our foreign policy, where necessary, in order to tackle the problem of global terrorism. Thus, we intend to increase the strength of our diplomatic and allied cadres,” the manifesto reads. “We will also build on the ‘Make in India in Defence’ initiative to further indigenise our defence equipment.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was among a host of top BJP leaders at the launch of the manifesto, said the party was guided by ‘nationalist’ principles.

In his note, party president Amit Shah counted “surgical strike, air strike” as the many decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he termed were “historic and has ushered in a comprehensive and fundamental transformation” in the country.

“Our security doctrine will be guided by our national security interest only,” the BJP said.

 “We will firmly continue our policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism and extremism and will continue to follow our policy of giving a free hand to our security,” the BJP said.

The manifesto promises include bringing in Uniform Civil Code, Citizenship Amendment Bill among others.

The BJP said it will speed up the purchases of outstanding defence-related equipment and weapons.

“In order to equip the armed forces with modern equipment, we will continue to take focused steps to strengthen the strike capability of the armed forces,” the manifesto says.

The BJP counted the recent India-Russia joint venture for manufacturing AK-203 automatic rifles at Amethi in Uttar Pradesh as one of its achievements.

“We are committed to focus on ‘Make in India in Defence’ to enable indigenous production of defence equipment,” the BJP manifesto states. “This will also generate employment and encourage investment in the defence sector.”

While the BJP has spoken about Make in India in defence, the government does not have to show much when it comes to indigenous defence manufacturing. Some of the mega Make in India projects such as the ones for fighter aircraft, helicopters and submarines are yet to see the light of day.

The BJP has claimed that in the last five years, the Modi government has made all necessary efforts to ensure peace in Jammu and Kashmir through decisive action and a firm policy.

“We are committed to overcoming all obstacles that come in the way of development and provide adequate financial resources to all the regions of the state,” the BJP said. “We reiterate our position since the time of the Jan Sangh for the abrogation of Article 370.”


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Guv launches ‘market intervention scheme’ for apples in J&K

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar: Governor Satya Pal Malik launched the ‘Market Intervention Scheme for Apples of J&K’ with the objective of providing optimum prices to the growers. This Scheme has been approved by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs, for the current apple harvesting season.

This Scheme will be implemented in J&K by the Directorate of Planning and Marketing, supported by the Directorate of Horticulture (Kashmir) and Jammu and Kashmir Horticultural Produce, Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd.

Vijay Kumar, K.K. Sharma and Farooq Khan, Advisors to Governor; B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; S.K. Singh, Additional M.D. National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) were present on the occasion.

 

Highlighting the vital importance of Horticulture Sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s economy, Governor observed  that with a turnover of Rs 8000 crore per year in this sector and close to 7 lakh families directly and indirectly associated with it, this Sector needs focused attention on  providing every possible support to the growers right from their orchards to the market.

Governor noted that with the launch of this scheme many of the issues relating to the grading of apples, procurement, storage and marketing will be taken care of by the Government. He said that the NAFED will procure and market the apple produce and the apple  growers will be getting many times more remuneration for various Grades of apple.

Governor expressed that this Scheme will help the growers to save their crop from distress sale.He also stressed the need for the farming community to become aware of their rights and strengthen themselves so as not to get exploited by the market forces which are causing farmers to suffer losses.

Governor expressed gratitude to the Union Home Minister for swiftly getting done the whole exercise to launch this initiative in support of farmers of Jammu and Kashmir within two weekss time and sought every stakeholders cooperation in making it a success.

Farooq Khan described it as a momentous occasion for the apple growers whereby they have been assured for a Minimum Support Price for their crop. He described it as a significant initiative to save the growers from the market exploitation and distress sale. He said that this step will also help in making apple from Kashmir a ‘Brand’ thus adding to its value manifold.

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‘Kashmir incurs Rs 3900 Cr loss in 39 days of lockdown’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar: It was after years of hard work that 32- year -old Mushtaq Ahmad, who worked as a chef in Srinagar’s prominent hotel, started his own eatery in the city outskirts.

Inspired by valley based food entrepreneurs, he borrowed money from bank and his acquaintances with a promise to repay it before January 2020.

However, his dreams came crashing down when uncertainty gripped Kashmir after Centre abrogated Article 370. For the last one month, Ahmed is at wits end how to repay monthly instalment to the bank to avoid default.

 

“Starting business in Kashmir has become a risky job. One doesn’t know when situation will turn bad. I am a small businessman and one can only wonder about the losses faced by hoteliers and transporters,” he said.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) put the business losses at whopping Rs 3900 crores in the last 39 days of lockdown.

“On an average daily, Kashmir loses at least Rs 100-120 crores due to the lockdown. Tourism industry, which is worth Rs 4000-5000 crores and handicrafts that yields Rs 1500-2000 crores annually, are the worst hit.  It is not just this year but the aftershocks of this situation will be felt in coming years as well,” Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, President KCCI, told The Kashmir Monitor.

What complicated the situation is the snapping of cellular communication and internet, which determined functioning of most of the businesses particularly Information Technology, courier services, tourism and some of the traditional businesses in the valley. 

Prior to August 2 government advisory, more than 5.21 lakh tourists and 3.40 lakh pilgrims had visited Kashmir. July witnessed the maximum arrivals when 1, 70,000 tourists visited the valley. Following government advisory, more than 20,000 tourists left the valley in just 24 hours.

Tanveer Ahmad, who owns SNS travel agency in Sonawar, said that losses of tour operators, hoteliers and houseboat owners could increase as gag on internet continues within the valley.

“Our business is completely dependent on internet. If this internet gag continues, our losses may go up. For instance if I incurred Rs 20 lakh loss this month, it may cross Rs 50 lakh in another month,” he said.

Empty shikaras, vacant houseboats and deserted hotels presents a grim picture of the tourism sector.

Hundreds of the youth have lost their jobs so far as majority of the hotels in the valley have downed their shutters in absence of tourists.

Shikaras, which would witness a hustle bustle in autumn, now ferry vegetables from the inner parts of Dal to Boulevard.

“Just some 40 days before I was earning Rs 2000 to 4000 daily. Now I am earning just Rs 200. Nobody was prepared for this situation,” said Shakeel Ahmad, a shikarawala.

Horticulture sector, the biggest economy and employment generating sector of Kashmir, too is in the red. “We have no contact with growers and outside state dealers for almost a month now. A box of Babgosha variety of Pears, which last year cost Rs 700 to Rs 800, is sold at Rs 150 to Rs 400. The growers are unable to negotiate the rates with prospective buyers as there is no phone connectivity. We are suffering huge losses,”said Fayaz Ahmad, an apple grower.

Harvest of Delicious variety of apples will begin from September 10 and the communication blockade is already making things worse for the farmers who are unable to contact dealers in Delhi and other states. “No trucker is ready to ferry the produce to other markets of Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai and Goa,” he said.

As per the growers, the transportation charges per apple ox from Srinagar to Azadpur fruit Mandi in Delhi has increased by Rs 53.

 “Before the current situation unfolded we had fixed Rs 27.40 as transportation charges for each fruit box from Srinagar to Delhi and Rs 65 per box from Srinagar to Mumbai. This time, however, rates have gone through the roof with truckers charging Rs 80 per box from Srinagar to Delhi and Rs 110 from Srinagar to Mumbai. Plus”, said a dealer at Parimpora Fruit Mandi.

The commercial transport services equally report huge losses since August 5.

An official from the Transport Department said that at least 6000 commercial vehicles have not plied on roads for the last 37 days.   “Not a single commercial vehicle has plied since last 39 days in Srinagar and other districts. Majority of these transporters bought vehicles after lending heavy amount from banks. This sector is reporting heavy losses,” he said.

Traditional handicrafts including pashmina and carpet are also witnessing slump with no fresh orders coming from outside dealers in view of the communication gag.

“I have almost seven carpets ready but there are no buyers because internet and mobile phones services are shut. We lost contact with our dealers and in turn suffer heavy losses,” said Basheer Ahmad, a carpet dealers from Pattan.

There are reports of lay-offs in courier and other e-commerce companies in Kashmir as well. “There are around 3000 youth working as courier boys in the city alone. Most of them have lost their jobs,” said Adil Ahmad, a courier boy.  

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Back to Village programme: It is raining cash for Panchayats in JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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SRINAGAR:   Taking a big leap in empowering Panchayats, Jammu and Kashmir government has authorized Panches and Sarpanches to use funds for developmental works under ‘Back to Village’ programme.

Under this programme, finance department has sanctioned Rs 121 crore for different developmental projects across the state. Each district would be receiving Rs five crore to kick start the works.

The first of its kind, ‘Back to Village’ programme was held from June 21 to 27. During this period, government officers panned out across the state to receive feedback from Panches and Sarpanchs about the developmental needs in different Panchayats.

 

Sources said the exercise was primarily aimed at energizing the 4483 Panchayats.  This follows Centre’s directive to J&K government to ensure empowerment of Panchayats in the state.

“The funds for developmental works will be used by Sarpanches and Panches. District development commissioners will only monitor the funds. They (DCs) have been directed to prioritize the developmental works. Repairing of roads, transformers, high tension lines and schools are some of the works which would be taken up initially under this programme,” sources said. 

Earlier, Centre had enhanced financial powers of Panchayats from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Besides, financial powers of block councils were enhanced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh. This was part of the initiative to empower around 40,000 Panchayat representatives in the state.

However, there were complaints in the past that funds meant for Panchayats were not reaching to the grassroots.

Waking up to the complaints, Director Rural Development Department Kashmir shot off a letter to the concerned officials asking them to ensure transparency of funds meant for Panchayats in the valley.

“It is mandatory to ensure that the funds in the account of the Halqa Panchayat are properly used. And that the funds balance available in these Halqa Panchayat account prior to the notification of constituted Panchayats or appointment of administers, are in order and every transaction in the said Halqa Panchayat account is as per the financial rules,” reads an order issued by Rural Development Department, in July.

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