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Come forward to talk, save JK from bloodshed: Mehbooba to separatists

Mubashir Bukhari

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Srinagar, Jun 03: Asking the separatists to come forward for talks and save the state from “bloodshed”, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Sunday termed the unilateral ceasefire and the offer of dialogue by the Centre as an opportunity that does not come every day.

The people of Kashmir and the leadership here have to decide on the opportunity provided by the Centre in terms of unilateral ceasefire, which stopped the bloodshed here, and then the readiness for dialogue, how we benefit from it,” Mehbooba said addressing a convention of her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) here.

Mehbooba said the ceasefire and talks offer an opportunity to the separatists to stop bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

“There are other parties who are not in the mainstream, and if they have some other agenda, they have an opportunity now if they want to stop bloodshed in J&K. We always say that there has to be a political solution to J&K and the army or CRPF or police cannot resolve it,” she said.

“It can only be resolved politically thorough dialogue. And when there is an offer of dialogue from the Centre, I request all stake holders to come forward to save J&K and its economy,” the CM added.

While the Centre announced unilateral ceasefire for the holy month of Ramadhan, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently said the Centre was ready to talk to separatists in the valley if they are willing for a dialogue.

The chief minister said while she cannot force the separatists, they have to think on giving the youth in Kashmir “a way out from the stone and gun culture”.

“We cannot force you or give you a dictation, but can only request even a day before yesterday a youth got killed after he came under a vehicle during stone-pelting. He was an orphan but why take to stone-pelting? Why not give them a way out from this morass, from stone or gun culture,” she said.

Putting the onus on the separatists, Mehbooba said the mainstream parties in the state gave them an opportunity by providing an atmosphere for talks and now it was up to the separatists to take advantage of the opportunity.

“We, mainstream parties, gave you unilateral ceasefire and an atmosphere for talks, now it is up to you – the separatists,” she said.

“I request them that it is an opportunity, that you always say that military solution is no solution and only dialogue is the way forward to achieve a political solution. So, today you have an offer of dialogue.”

“They (Centre) are saying come and talk to us. I think if J&K has to be taken out of this morass and difficult time, then all be it mainstream parties or separatists have to come forward and use this opportunity. Such an opportunity does not come every day,” she said, adding “I request all the leaders (separatists) you are very tall leaders – but right now use this opportunity of talks to save J&K. Come forward and talk.”

She said the eyes of the whole country were on Kashmir and if the people here lose this opportunity, then no one will support or advocate for them tomorrow.

“The Home Minister of this country is saying they want to embrace Kashmiris and are ready for talks. If we lose this opportunity, nobody will support us tomorrow, no one will advocate for us. The eyes of the whole country are on J&K and its leadership to see what they decide and how they try to save the people of Kashmir, especially its youth. If we have to save J&K, this is an opportunity for us,” Mehbooba said.

Amidst reports of more youth joining militant ranks, the chief minister said the increase in the militancy would only increase the footprints of the security forces in the valley.

“The increase in the number of youth picking up guns will increase the presence of army, CRPF and the police here. The more the situation improves, the more we can tell Army, CRPF or police that your role is over and you reduce your footprints,” she said.

Referring to the spate of grenade attacks over the last few days, Mehbooba said gun or grenade attacks achieve nothing.

“Despite the unilateral ceasefire, there are grenade attacks. They do not see that civilians are getting killed, they do not see that army or CRPF troopers have come from far-flung areas for their bread and butter, what will this achieve?” she asked.

“There have been thousands of grenade attacks till now, thousands have picked up guns and become militants, but what has been achieved? We have achieved Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, Poonch-Rawalkote road and if the situation improves, I promise you that we will re-open more such routes,” she said.

The chief minister also batted for talks between India and Pakistan and condemned the ceasefire violations on the border.

“Till both the countries come closer, situation will not improve. J&K bears the maximum impact of the relationship between India and Pakistan. So, our party’s agenda is that they should talk to each other,” she added.


Mubashir joined The Kashmir Monitor as a reporter/ sub-editor in Jan 2013. Since then, he has been consistently covering beats including conflict, politics, education, and health. He is also handling online section of the paper besides working as Video Producer.

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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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