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CM seeks ‘Pak help to end bloodshed’

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Reasi, Jan 14: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday reminded Pakistan about the promise its former president Pervez Musharraf had made to former prime minister AB Vajpayee to maintain peace along the borders and sought its help in ending the bloodshed in the state.
She also appealed to India to give up confrontation with Pakistan, saying it was the people of the state who were suffering due to the animosity between the two nations.
“We have to restart the reconciliation process with Pakistan and you (India) have a bigger role in the process in Jammu and Kashmir,” Mufti said, addressing the attestation- cum-passing out parade of 911 police recruits at the subsidiary police training centre in Talwara here.
She expressed hoped that the Pakistan government and its Army would extend the hand of friendship to help end the bloodshed in the state.
“Musharraf had made a promise to Vajpayee about maintaining peace along the borders, to stop infiltration of militants and not to use Pakistan soil against India,” she said.
“We are not able to stop the infiltration of militants completely. If we kill 200 militants, 200 others come. IED and suicide attacks add to our miseries,” she added.
Mufti said she hoped that they understood it and “as Vajpayee used to say that we will address Kashmir on humanitarian grounds, Pakistan will extend its support to help end the bloodshed in the state”.
The chief minister asked what the reason for the confrontation was.
“A piece of land… Help in saving the lives of the people. Use the money spent on fighting for the betterment of the people and give good hospitals, schools and roads so that we can also live in peace,” she said.
She expressed displeasure over the provocative statements coming from both sides.
“Eant ka jawab pathher se denge (we will respond to a brick by throwing a stone)…
Whenever a bullet is fired, someone loses their life,” she said.
“These are our challenges. These challenges were there for the last 70 years but took the shape of the gun over the last three decades,” she said demanding an end to these provocative statements.
She said Vajpayee’s statement that “we can change our friends but notneighbours” holds the key to moving forward.
Mufti said there were a number of problems in restoring peace as without it there would be no development in the state.
“Today our border villagers are living in fear and we are talking about constructingbunkers for them instead of concentrating on giving them good living conditions,” she said.
Mufti listed various steps taken by her government for the betterment of the police force, and said “The Jammu and Kashmir Police is the best force as it is faced with an extraordinary law and order situation. Your role is to pull out the state from this difficult phase and restore peace.”
The chief minister asked the policemen to have a humane approach while dealing with the people.
“In this challenge, you have to face your own people. A 15-year-old boy with a stone in his hand stands up to challenge your authority. What will you do? Your work is difficult and sensitive but I’m hopeful that you will meet the challenge,” she said.


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Lead Stories

JK’s liability swells

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.

Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.

The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.

 

Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.

Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.

“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.

Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.

 

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Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.

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Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.

The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.

 

Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.

In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.

The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.

President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.

Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.

Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.

“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.

He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.

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