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Business fraternity vows to protect Art 35-A with blood; Supports joint Hurriyat’s shutdown call

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, July 30: Business fraternity of Kashmir on Monday announced its protest programme from Tuesday to August 6 to defend Article 35-A to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Representatives from, at least, 27 associations including civil society, horticulturists, contractors and transporters jointly addressed a press conference demanding dismissal of the petition in the apex court.

Supporting the Joint Hurriyat Leadership’s call for strike on August 5 and 6, the fraternity said its various associations would also protest on different dates to deter any effort to harm Article 35-A.

 

“Any effort to tinker with the Act will prove regretful for the Government of India. We are ready even to spill our blood in order to protect the Act,” President Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Muhammad Yasin Khan, said.

Chief, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Javed Ahmad Tenga said “it will be a strategic protest programme in which many business associations will protest on different dates”.

Mubeen Shah, former president of the Chamber said New Delhi was “hand in glove with the RSS-backed NGO to abrogate Article 35-A”.

“Since 1954, several petitions were filed by different groups to challenge the Act, but they eventually got dismissed. However, this time the Government of India has refused to counter the PIL,” he said.

Shah said the purpose behind the PIL was to “change the demographic character of the state”.

“It is ultimately aimed to alter the nature of the internationally-recognised dispute. With the removal of this Act, the rights of original citizens of Jammu and Kashmir on their immovable property would be taken away. All Indians would establish their settlements here by pushing away the original citizens of J&K,” he said.

Civil society activist, Shakeel Qalander said the protest programme was equally supported by many associations from the Jammu region.

“We are supported by people from Chenab Valley and other parts of Jammu region. The issue this time is when all previous central government’s filed counter affidavits against any PIL previously to defend Article 35-A, why not by the current regime?,” he said.

“We will have to unite to get the nefarious PIL by the RSS-backed NGO dismissed. We announce our full support to the call of strike given by JRL,” Qalander said.

Jammu Chamber not to back Kashmir counterpart

Jammu, July 30: Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries Monday said they will not support the stand of its Kashmir counterpart in defending Article 35 A-that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provides special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.

“We will not comment on the matter as it is subjudice. The Supreme Court verdict with regard to Article 35A will be in the interest of the State and its people,” President, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Rakesh Gupta was quoted saying by news agency CNS.

Asked whether they will accept the decision, if Supreme Court annuls Article 35 A, Gupta said they will abide by the verdict of the court and accept it wholeheartedly.

“We work jointly with Kashmir Chamber on different issues but here our opinions differ. Neither we oppose the stand taken by our Kashmir counterpart on this issue nor do we support them. We have our own point of view with regard to Article 35A and we don’t subscribe to the stand and views of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries,” Gupta said.

Earlier, several Kashmir based business amalgams during a joint press briefing said that traders and other bodies from Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal Division have extended full support to them and they stand with the people of Kashmir on the issue. (CNS)

 

Abrogation it will lead to ‘civil war’ in Kashmir: Congress

Srinagar, July 30: State General Secretary of Pradesh Congress Committee and MLA Bandipora Usman Majid Monday said that if Article 35-A is scrapped, it will lead to “civil war” in Kashmir.

“If BJP and RSS think that this war will remain restricted to Kashmir, they are living in a fool’s paradise. It will engulf the whole of India,” he said.

He added that the Centre should not touch the special status of Kashmir.

“If they do, they will invite trouble for entire India and the region. Article 35A is our minimum right and we will not tolerate any attempt to fiddle with it,” he added

“We won’t allow anybody to fiddle with Article 35A. The state subject law should not be eroded at any cost. If the Constitutional provision is removed, it will provide fertile ground for neighbouring powers to intensify the war in Kashmir, which will then engulf the whole country. If Article 35A is abrogated, it will be economically detrimental to the people of State,” he added.


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LS Polls 2019:Exit polls predict comfortable win for Modi-led NDA

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New Delhi, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance government is likely to return to power after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed.

NDTV’s poll of polls said the NDA would get 302 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 127 seats and other parties (Others) 114 seats.

The Republic TV exit poll gave the NDA 305 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 124 and others 120. Times Now exit poll gave the BJP alliance 306 seats, the UPA 132 seats and Others 104.

 

News Nation gave the NDA between 282 to 290 seats, the UPA between 118 and 126 seats and Others 130 to 138 seats. Sudarshan News gave the NDA 313 seats, UPA 121 seats and Others 109+.

Analysts see the election as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch in trying to win votes by projecting a tough stance against Pakistan, especially after a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir.

He has also spoken about a Rs 75,000-crore income support scheme for farmers, toilets built as part of the national cleanliness campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, rural electrification scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and cooking gas scheme for the poor Ujjwala Yojana.

The Congress and other Opposition parties are challenging the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over unemployment and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has also accused Modi of corruption in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France.

Voter turnout in the first six rounds was approximately 66 per cent, according to the Election Commission, compared with 66.40 per cent in the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Voting has largely been peaceful but for sporadic violence in West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to wrest seats from Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee’s All India Trinamool Congress.

In a drastic and unprecedented action, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning by a day in West Bengal on Thursday, after days of clashes in the final stretch of the election.

Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in the 543-seat Parliament. The BJP, which won a majority of 282 seats in 2014, may need some regional parties as allies to stay in power.

The BJP will need to do well in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the most in a state. The party had won 71 of them in 2014, but this time it has been challenged by a coalition between the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.

The voting on Sunday covers 59 seats in eight states and Union Territories. It also includes Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, where he had won in 2014.

Votes cast in the seven phases of elections will be counted on May 23.

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New dispensation in Delhi has to address Kashmir issue: Mirwaiz

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Srinagar, May 19: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday said that Hurriyat leadership was ready to support talks between India and Pakistan provided India accepted Kashmir as a dispute.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Hurriyat Conference here, he said, “We are not against either the people of India or development. If India and Pakistan initiate a dialogue, we are ready to support it, but India must first accept the basic reality that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute”.

He said the Hurriyat Conference was against India’s policies which were presently being implemented in Kashmir.

 

“It is unfortunate that New Delhi has choked all means of peaceful protest in the Valley. Even pro-freedom leaders are not allowed to meet the people. How can ideas come up if all spaces are choked,” he asked.

Mirwaiz further said that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had realised that the only possible solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found through a dialogue process.

He also demanded that the Indian government should withdraw the bans imposed on different organisations in Kashmir.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the present prevailing situation in Kashmir as sensitive and painful stating that there is no letup in the policies of repression and intimidations as killings, harassment and CASOs continue unabated even in this holy month of Ramadhan.

He said there were apprehensions whether the authorities would allow the seminar as last year, the then government had barred it and caged entire Hurriyat leadership. Mirwaiz said that the repressive measures are being taken to suppress the genuine voices of people of Kashmir.

Mirwaiz said that he was feeling the pain whenever any youth is martyred in government forces action or in encounters stating that that it was beyond doubt that the gun-wielding local boys were the products of the ongoing oppression and they are getting consumed in the ongoing unresolved conflict. He said emotions and repressions is driving the educated youth of Kashmir towards armed means of resistance as every scope for raising voices peacefully stand chocked.

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Touted as game-changer, ambitious e-governance SWAN project yet to take off even after 13 years

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 19: Thirteen years on, the ambitious State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project is yet to see the light of the day in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 2005 Government of India project was aimed to synchronize all official departments of a given state through a dedicated internet connection in a closed used group. Thirteen years after the approval, the project is yet to be completed.

The government has now appointed a four member committee to conduct a thorough probe into the irregularities and lack of progress in implementation of SWAN project. Headed by Principal Secretary Transport Department, the four member committee includes Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Department, and Secretary Higher Education. The fact finding panel have been asked to submit the report by June 6.  

 

Project Manager, Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency, Irfan Ahmad and Public Information Officer, Imran-ul-Sofi pleaded ignorance about the status of the project. Instead of divulging details, both officers asked to contact Financial Commissioner, Information Technology, Suresh Kumar.

Kumar however could not be contacted for the comments. Additional Secretary Information Technology Vaibhav Kohli passed the buck to project managers. “You ask project managers about the same,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) functions under the Information Technology. As per the details available on its website, the SWAN project is a major core infrastructure project under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).

The project, if implemented, was expected to provide connectivity to the two state headquarters (SHQ), 20 District Headquarters (DHQ), and 152 block headquarters (BHQ) with a minimum internet speed of 2 megabytes per second.

Further, the network would have connected all state and designated government offices located within a 15 kms radius of the SHQ, all state and other designated offices located within 10 kms of each DHQ), and all state and other designated offices located within five kms of each BHQ.

In 2009, the then government had prepared a Draft Proposal Report (DPR) for Rs 106.57 crores for implementing SWAN in the state and forwarded the same to Ministry of Information Technology Government of India.  The tenders were floated four different times until March 2014 but all of them were cancelled since bids received for creating SWAN were apparently high.

SWAN would have substantially reduced the overall time taken in completing administrative tasks by providing converged communications services (voice, data and video) accessible to all government departments. “It would have reduced unnecessary movement of vehicles, employees and documents”, said an official.

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