Jammu, Jun 23: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Amit Shah came down heavily on his party’s former alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), indicating that the BJP has started early preparations for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Shah, who flew to Jammu on Saturday to commemorate the death anniversary of party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, said the BJP had patiently waited four years, but the Mehbooba Mufti-led government did not implement any of the programmes framed by the central government. He claimed that sanctioning funds and schemes is the Centre duty, but their proper implementation is the state government’s responsibility.
He also accused the PDP of meting out biased treatment to Jammu and Ladakh, a sentiment widely shared by the people of the region. “Many people ask us why we withdrew support to the PDP, and I know my answer can create controversies. I must say we entered the alliance with the PDP for balanced development of all three regions, but the state government failed to keep this promise,” Shah claimed.
“The future of Jammu’s children was being played with… The PDP stalled all progress for them. No financial help was extended to Jammu despite the Centre sanctioning Rs 80,000 crore for its development,” Shah said.
He also said that the BJP wanted equal development in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, but the PDP was not interested in forwarding plans that were in the interest of the Jammu region.
“The truth is that the PDP was not interested in sharing resources for Jammu… It even refused to give land to set up an AIIMS in Jammu. We had announced establishing five medical colleges in Jammu and Kashmir, of which three were in Jammu. In all other places, academic sessions have started, but the formalities of the colleges in the Jammu region have yet to be completed,” Shah said. “How could we have stayed part of such a government?”
Amit Shah attacked both the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC), saying “We had allotted Rs 40 crore for the development of Pashmina & Rs 45 crore for Pampore haat. The two families from NC & PDP ruled J&K for three generations but never did anything for Pashmina or Pampore haat.”
The BJP president also launched a book on the life of Mookerjee, who the BJP believes was murdered because he opposed the implementation of Article 370, which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier on Saturday, Shah reviewed the party’s preparations and strategy for the Lok Sabha elections due next year. This was his first visit to the state after the saffron party withdrew from coalition government with the PDP in the state.
The BJP chief was accorded a rousing reception, with the party’s youth wing taking out a bike rally from the airport to the state guest house.
“The BJP president chaired several meetings and reviewed organisational functioning and preparations for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and its strategy,” a senior BJP leader told PTI. Shah also chaired the party’s election committee meeting to discuss the issues for the next election, he added.
The top leadership of the party’s state unit briefed the BJP chief about the political situation after Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state on Wednesday. They briefed him about the party’s upcoming programmes in the state in view of the 2019 elections and also updated him about the current programmes in the state.
Shah’s public address assumes significance, given the evolving political situation in Jammu and Kashmir since the break-up of the BJP-PDP alliance, an alliance that was popularly termed the coming together of the north and south poles by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had first agreed to the tie-up.
The BJP president was accompanied by state unit chief Ravinder Raina and other senior leaders at the programmes he attended.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.