JAMMU, JANUARY 10: In yet another major decision of far reaching significance, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today announced grant of amnesty against youth involved in various cases during the unrest of 2016 even as she appealed all shades of opinion in the State and the country to come forward and help in the getting the State out of present uncertainties and bloodshed.
Replying to the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s Address in the legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister said she directed the withdrawal of cases against 4327 youth recently and even constituted a committee to review the cases against youth registered during the unrest of 2016. “I am happy that we have decided to grant amnesty to them also, roughly making it to around nine thousand youth”, she announced in the House amidst applauses.
Mehbooba Mufti said she has asked the Police to ensure that the local boys who have joined militant ranks should be helped to come back to their families and friends. “It’s my endeavour to bring them back and ensure no harassment to them. Many have come back but I regret the glorification of violence by some people on social media”, she told the House.
Terming dialogue as the only way ahead, the Chief Minister said appointment of Mr. Dineshwar Sharma, with the rank of Cabinet Secretary, as interlocutor last year was a major decision to undertake sustained dialogue in the State. She hoped that people from different shades of opinion would join the consultation process initiated by Mr. Sharma and it moves ahead with positivity.
Clarifying some points raised by some opposition members in this regard, Mehbooba Mufti said the mandate given to him is clear and categorical. “He has been appointed to carry forward the dialogue process in the State in a sustained manner”, she said adding that the need of the hour is to get the State out of the vicious cycle of violence. She appealed all shades of opinion in the State and the Country to come forward and play their role in getting Jammu & Kashmir out of uncertainties and bloodshed.
Welcoming the reports of recent meeting of National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, Mehbooba Mufti said she wishes normalisation of relations between the two countries adding that she wants the State to become a bridge of faith and trust between the two countries. She said Jammu & Kashmir has a strategic location which should be exploited for positive and gainful results. “Why can’t we be gateway to Central Asia. We should be part of the Silk Route. Let us explore the opportunities of Tashkant, Kashgar, Iran etc. which have been the historic routes through which Islam came to Kashmir”, she said. “It was this tolerant Islam which groomed us to think on rational and humanitarian lines while deciding our fate in 1947. Let us go back to our routes”, she said.
For their social inclusion and integration, the Chief Minister said the pellet victims whose vision got impaired were given financial assistance and even the jobs. “Unfortunate, it should have not happened. We tried to rehabilitate them. We are still on it. Pellet victim Insha was given Gas agency to stand up on her feet”, she informed the House adding that these persons would be given special training in collaboration with a local institution so that they don’t have to depend on anybody for rest of their life.
The Chief Minister said to empower people at grass root levels, her Government intends to hold elections to panchayats and urban local local bodies and put in place a three tier governance apparatus in the State.
Rebutting strongly the charge of the opposition, the Chief Minister said a lot was done during the last three years by the Government but could not be highlighted because political scenario always dominates the scene in the State and the country. She said regularising the services of 60 thousand daily wagers was the largest public welfare step taken by any Government in recent times. “I am happy that they won’t have to go from pillar to post now onwards for releasing their remunerations. We have given them an honourable position, dignity and security though they were engaged by previous regimes”, the Chief Minister said while terming their regularisation as the mother of all welfare measures.
Mehbooba Mufti said she was happy to see that Leader of opposition praised the good work done by her Party during its rule from 2002-2005.
On the novel initiative of her conducting public outreach programmes at district headquarters, the Chief Minister said the aim was to know the difficulties of people of far flung areas on spot and fix the same instantly. She clarified that the local legislators were part of these programmes and many of the decisions she took were in response to the demands put forth by them. “No discrimination was made on political lines”, she clarified.
Mehbooba Mufti said, equally, the aim of her public outreaches was to spread the developmental initiative to far flung and difficult areas rather than concentrating them in cities. “If a villager of Bounjwa, Marmat or Paddar does not get his half a kilometre road constructed or a health centre improved, I don’t think we are doing justice to them”, she asserted.
The Chief Minister said during these outreach programmes, she has noticed that though many field officers have a ready knowledge of activities in the field but some officers do not visit their areas so frequently as should be. “We, the political executives, come and go but you (the officers) remain in the system for long”, she said while asking the field officers, particularly the DCs, to regularly visit their areas and get direct feedback from the people.
Sensing the requirements of labour class, who don’t have any job or life security, Mehbooba Mufti said the Government conceived a welfare scheme for around 3 lakh workers in unorganised sector in terms of accidental deaths, injuries or normal deaths. Also the scheme envisages scholarships and educational incentives to the wards of these workers, she added. Similarly, she said, the widow pension was enhanced and even the scooty scheme for college girls has so picked up that the demand is coming from all across the State.
The Chief Minister said J&K Police which is on the fore front of managing the situation in the State had issues pending for long. The cadre review of Kashmir Police Service was undertaken, ex gratia amount for the cops was increased by three times, backlog of SRO-43 of around 1000 cases was cleared and quotas for promotions in constabulary were earmarked for their timely career progression, she informed the House.
In education sector, Mehbooba Mufti said, around 400 schools are being upgraded and Government schools are performing better which, she said, got displayed yesterday in the results of 10th class examination. Government schools not only got more of their students passed but also in good percentages, she added.
The Chief Minister said Government is taking steps to provide as much jobs as possible to youth. She said more than 10 thousand vacancies were filled last year by the PSC and SSRB, 3000 positions of Rehbar i Khel have been carved out, 500 Rehbar i Janglats are being recruited besides the routine recruitments in the police. The major takeaway, the Chief Minister said, has been the transparency in these selections. “There has been no interference in these selections. All I have been impressing upon the recruiting agencies is to speed up the process and conclude the selections in time”, she said.
During her 55 minute address, the Chief Minister enumerated several developmental initiatives taken by her Government. She said two AIIMS and two Smart cities are being developed in the State, 87 model hospitals are being constructed, work is apace on five medical colleges for which staff of around 3500 has already been sanctioned.
The Chief Minister also dwelt in detail the major initiatives taken by Government in the fields of Agriculture, Horticulture, Health, Public Works, water supply, health and other areas.
Earlier, 30 members participated in the discussion on Motion of Thanks which was returned after the reply of the Chief Minister.
Legislators who took part in the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address included Omar Abdullah, Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, Daleep Parihar, Choudhary Qamar Hussain, Sat Paul Sharma, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Shah Muhammad Tantray, Rajeev Jasrotia, Raja Manzoor Ahmad, Nawan Rigzin Jora, Dina Nath Bhagat, Mubarak Gul, Abdul Rahim Rather, Usman Abdul Majid, Jeevan Lal, Firdous Shamim, Abdul Majid Padder, Main Altaf Ahmad, Vikar Rasool Wani, M Y Tarigami, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, Shakti Raj Parihar, Javid Hassan Beigh, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Er Abdul Rasheed, Yawar Ahmad Mir, Ravinder Raina, Anjum Fazili and R S Pathania.
Later, the House passed the motion of Thanks on Governor’s Address.
Kashmir receives fresh snowfall, aerial traffic affected
By Tabish Shafi
Srinagar, Jan 17: Kashmir on Wednesday received fresh snowfall affecting the aerial traffic and bringing life to halt.
The fresh snowfall in this morning across the Valley disrupted the normal life in Kashmir with surface traffic remaining suspended for a day while as the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained open despite the snowfall.
Authorities in Srinagar Airport said that the flights to and from Srinagar were suspended in view of the prevailing weather conditions as well as the poor visibility.
Officials said that flights will be operational once the weather conditions and visibility will improve.”Due to bad weather/ heavy snowfall, all flights have been cancelled”.
Meanwhile, the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was open for one-way traffic as there was little or no snowfall in south Kashmir parts on Wednesday.
“Road Status: #Srinagar-Jammu highway open, Traffic plying from Srinagar to #Jammu; Srinagar-Kargil road Closed; Anantnag-Kishtwar road Closed; Mughal Road closed; Bandipora-Gurez road closed; Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Keran, Kupwara-Machail roads closed. @JmuKmrPolice,” Police tweeted.
Director of Meteorological department (MeT), Sonum Lotus said that the light rains as well as snowfall were predicted by the department earlier. “The reports of moderate snowfall were received from some places in Kashmir today,” he said.
He added that the weather would remain mostly cloudy in Kashmir from Jan 18-19, saying that from Jan 19 evening onwards; there is possibility of light rains and snowfall at isolate places.
Lotus further added that the MeT has predicted highly dynamic weather till Jan 23 in Kashmir. “From Jan 20-23, there is possibility of moderate rains and snowfall across the Valley,” he said, adding that the surface as well as the road traffic would also get affected due to the snow spell.
Meanwhile, the state administration claimed to have adequate measures to ensure basic facilities and road clearance during and in the aftermath of fresh snowfall.
The top officials held a series of meetings so far to finalize arrangements in this regard.
The respective district administrations have also asked the officials to gear up for the fresh snow spell as predicted by the Meteorological department
Meanwhile, the day temperatures across the Kashmir Valley nosedived amid fresh snowfall.
A meteorological department official told that Srinagar recorded a maximum of 1.0 degree Celsius, more than six degrees below normal for this time of the year. The capital city saw 5.4 mm of snow (when converted into rain) from 0830 to 1730 hours.
The famous hill resort of Pahalgam recorded a maximum of minus 1.6 degree Celsius and saw snowfall of 8.5mm.
Qazginund, the gateway town of Kashmir, saw a maximum of 2.2 degrees Celsius while Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded a maximum of 1.1 degrees Celsius. Both these places saw zero or traces of snowfall.
The MeT official said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a maximum of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius and it had a snowfall of 15.2 mm during the day.
Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a maximum of 0.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.
JK showcases tourism potential at Asia’s largest travel show
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16: Launching its aggressive marketing campaign, the Department of Tourism, participated in the 3-day South Asian Travel and Tourism Exhibition (SATTE) travel show which began here on Wednesday.
SATTE is one of the biggest travel shows in Asia providing platform for travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination management companies, tourism boards to sell their products and network to their potential clients from across the globe.
Besides, J&K Tourism Department, over hundred travel agents, hoteliers, other service providers and heads of the various travel and hotel associations from the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions are participating in the travel show to showcase the State’s tourism potential.
Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Samphel, Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani and Director Tourism Jammu Om Prakash Bhagat along with other senior officers from the Department participated in the travel show.
They had an interaction with the leading travel agents from within and outside the country and apprised them about the State’s tourism products.
“SATTE is one of the largest tourism shows in Asia where we can promote our tourism destinations. The department will provide all the information about the JK’s destinations, products, services to the visitors to attract them to the state,” the Secretary Tourism said.
Over 20000 visitors, including domestic and international sellers and buyers, State tourism officials, heads of international tourism boards, hoteliers, and aviation experts showcased their products and services to the global trade community.
The travel show also provides an opportunity for the state tourism department to conduct business sessions with the visitors during the travel show.
On the first day, the Tourism Department of at its pavilion screened short films on different destinations for the visitors who were mesmerized to see the stunning beauty. It also showcased State’s splendid art, craft and sumptuous traditional food.
A large number of visitors turned up at J&K pavilion to inquire about the State’s tourism products, new destinations and infrastructure development.
The Department informed them about the pilgrim, MICE, heritage, art and craft, food, known and lesser-known destinations of all the three regions of the state.
The Department also distributed comprehensive publicity material in the form of brochures and pamphlets, pen drives containing travel videos of different destinations to the visitors at its pavilion.
During the convention, Secretary Tourism, Director Tourism Kashmir, Director Tourism Jammu along with heads of local travel and hospitality sector will also hold separate meet with media to apprise them about the Kashmir being the safe tourist destination.
The Director Tourism Kashmir said the department has planned series of road shows and shall also participate in travel marts in the next two months.
“We will be visiting major cities in the country for road shows. We have also planned road shows in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh where from we have got a good response from the travellers,” he said.
All election formalities to be completed by Feb end: Sources
Srinagar, Jan 16 : All election formalities in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be completed by February end after which the Election Commission of India will take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously.
Top sources while disclosing this to Kashmir News Service (KNS) revealed that the Jammu and Kashmir government has fast paced the process of completing election formalities for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections by February end and the final electoral roles are likely to be published anytime after January 20.
As already reported the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar held video conference on finalization of electoral roles and other election related arrangements with all the district election officers (DEOs) of all the three regions of the state Tuesday this week.
Sources said the authorities in the election commission will work on the suitability of the location of polling booths across Jammu and Kashmir after January 20 and the process is likely to be completed by February 15.
The Election Commission of India, sources said, is likely to take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously earliest by February end and latest by March 15 and the polling in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held in the month of April only.
The polling, sources said, is likely to be held in eight phases adding that the polls in south Kashmir however may be held exclusively on the day when polls in no other part of the state will be held keeping in view the volatile situation in four districts of south Kashmir.