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COALITION COLLAPSE: JK braces for Governor’s Rule for the seventh time

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Srinagar, Jun 19: With the pullout orchestrated by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the consequent resignation from office by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, another spell of Governor’s Rule seems imminent in Jammu and Kashmir. If it comes to this, it would be the seventh time the state will be directly ruled by the Centre.
Governor’s Rule can be imposed on the state under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir if the “governor is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The governor may, by proclamation (a), assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State”.
The last spell of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir was before the formation of the outgoing government, which came to power after intense deliberation between the BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015.
When former president Pranab Mukherjee accepted the Centre’s recommendation for Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir on 9 January, 2015, that was the sixth time the state went under direct central rule.
Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state after the Assembly election results on 23 December, 2014, threw up a hung Assembly, with no party or combination of parties able to stake claim to form government and then caretaker chief minister Omar Abdullah asking to be relieved from the duties with immediate effect on 7 January.
The PDP had emerged the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member House in the staggered elections held over five of the last six weeks of 2014. The BJP came in a close second with 25 seats, followed by the National Conference (15 seats), Congress (12 seats) and others (seven seats).
When the BJP and PDP cobbled up an alliance, it was the fourth consecutive time that a democratically elected government in the state was preceded by a spell of Governor’s Rule.
Sheikh Mohammad was installed as the chief minister of the state following the Indira-Sheikh Delhi Accord in 1975. The tallest leader of the state returned to power with a thumping majority in the subsequent elections held in July 1977.
Direct central rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir for the second time in March 1986, when the Congress had withdrawn support to the minority government headed by Abdullah’s son-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah. Shah had engineered a split in the National Conference in 1984 to form his own government with Congress support. However, he had to step down after the Congress withdrew support over law and order problems in the state, leading to the recommendation of Governor’s Rule by the then governor Jagmohan Malhotra.
The Governor’s Rule came to an end in November 1986 after then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi entered into an accord with National Conference President Farooq Abdullah for power-sharing in the state.
Jagmohan’s return to the Raj Bhavan for the second term in January 1990 led to the resignation of then chief minister Farooq Abdullah, necessitating another spell of Governor’s Rule.
This was the longest spell of direct central rule in Jammu and Kashmir — six years and eight months — as elections could not be held because militancy had risen in many parts of the state. Although Jagmohan was recalled within six months of his second appointment, the Governor’s Rule continued till October 1996 when fresh Assembly elections were held.
Governor’s Rule had to be imposed in the state for the fourth time in October 2002 after caretaker chief minister Farooq Abdullah refused to continue in office in the wake of his party’s defeat in the Assembly elections that year. It was the shortest spell of Governor’s Rule — 15 days — as the PDP and Congress, with the support of 12 independents, formed government on 2 November.
Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state for 174 days after the PDP withdrew support to the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Congress-PDP coalition government in July 2008. The PDP withdrew support to the government on 28 June, 2008, following widespread protests during the Amarnath land row agitation, which pitted the Hindu-dominated Jammu region against the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.
Azad was to seek a vote of confidence in the Legislative Assembly on 7 July but chose to resign instead. The central rule came to an end on 5 January, 2009, after Omar Abdullah was sworn in as the youngest chief minister of the state.


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3 militants killed in Budgam encounter

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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)

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Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted

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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).

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Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects

Bisma Bhat

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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.

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