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Expect Kashmir among top states by 2029: Shah

Agencies

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New Delhi, Oct 3: Flagging off the second semi-high speed indigenous Vande Bharat train from the national capital to Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday announced that Kashmir would be in the “list of most developed Indian states in the next decade and a beginning in that direction has already been made today by the Railways”.

Shah said the hurdles in the development of Kashmir “had been erased” with the abrogation of Article 370 that gave the erstwhile state a special status.

“With the scrapping of Article 370, Kashmir has become a part of India like the other states,” he said.

 

The Minister said Article 370, which was scrapped on August 5, was “not only a hurdle in country’s unity and integrity but also the biggest obstacle in the development” of Jammu and Kashmir, which has now been bifurcated into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.

“I have firm belief that we will gain success in complete eradication of militancy and militant ideology from Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. Our Kashmir would be mentioned in the list of most developed Indian states within 10 years,” Shah said.

The Minister said the Vande Bharat train, which has been manufactured at a Chennai-based factory, was a gift to the countrymen from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“A new history is being created through Vande Bharat, which will be a great medium of tourism to Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Vande Bharat Express will run between Delhi and Katra facilitating travel upto the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi. The booking for the train will start from Saturday.

The Minister said that there is great importance of religious tourism in Jammu and Kashmir for the development of the region.

Shah said that the journey to the shrine had been very difficult in the past but Vande Bharat would make it very easy.

This move is part of an initiative adopted by Narendra Modi government since it came in power in 2014, the Minister said, adding the motive was to spread a web of high-speed trains across the country aimed at bringing down the journey time with safe travel in felicitating people to reach their destinations including religious.

Shah said it is true that PM Modi played a great role in adjoining Kashmir with India forever by abrogating Article 370, a move which was never expected.

Recalling Mahatma Gandhi, a day after his 150th birth anniversary, Shah said the indegenousVande Bharat Express has fulfilled the approach of the Father of the Nation stressing to adopt “Swadeshi”.

Completed winthin 18-month time frame, Vande Bharat will bring down the travel time between Delhi and Katra, the last station on the way to Vaishno Devi temple, to eight hours from the current 12 hours. The luxury all air-conditioned chair car service with 16 coaches is an engine-less self-propelled trainset which allows for faster acceleration and deceleration, therefore reducing travel time by 40 per cent.

The train will run on all days of the week except Tuesdays. Train number 22439 New Delhi-KatraVande Bharat Express will depart from the New Delhi railway station at 6 am to reach Katra at 2 p.m.

On the return journey the same day, train number 22440 Katra-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express will leave from the Katra railway station at 3 p.m. to reach the New Delhi railway station at 11 p.m.

The first Vande Bharat Express was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February. Railways is expected to manufacture 40 more such trains by 2022, according to senior officials.

Shah congratulated the whole Railway department as well as Railway Minister PiyushGoyal, who was also present on the occasion, saying Vande Bharat is a gift to the people of Jammu by them during Navratra, a Hindu festival that spans nine nights and is celebrated every year in the autumn.(IANS)


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Phones to buzz again tomorrow

Govt announces restoration of postpaid services; internet shutdown to continue

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 12: Two days after lifting security advisory for tourists, Jammu and Kashmir government Saturday announced to restore postpaid mobile telephony in all the 10 districts of the valley from Monday noon.

However, internet services will continue to remain suspended though government has decided to restore the service at tourist places to facilitate the visitors.

 “After reviewing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a decision was taken to restore mobile phone facilities in all the remaining areas of the state. More specifically, all post-paid mobile phones, irrespective of the telecom service provider, will stand restored and be functional from 12 noon on October 14. This will cover all 10 districts of Kashmir province,” Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary and J&K government spokesperson, told reporters here on Saturday.

 

Jammu and Kashmir government had imposed a communication blockade on August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.

“A number of restrictions were imposed on August 5 to prevent externally aided militants from disturbing peace and inflicting causalities on innocent citizens. It is a well-established fact that there have been sustained attempts from across the border, both in the past and more in the last two months to promote militancy in J&K in order to create a sense of fear among the people and keep the place in a disturbed condition,” said Kansal.

There are more than 70 lakh mobile phone subscribers in the valley of which 40 lakh alone are postpaid users. Kashmir is the only place in the country where postpaid phone subscribers outnumber prepaid subscribers.

The decision to restore postpaid mobile phone service in Kashmir comes two days after the government lifted August 2 travel advisory for tourists.   

“With this step, tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity. Students can be in touch with parents while attending schools, businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients and contractors can be in touch with staff,” he said.

Kansal said travel advisory for tourists has been lifted and visitors are welcome to visit the state. “They will be facilitated for their visit. Internet facilities are being opened at tourist places to assist tourists wanting to access internet,” he said.

Government also urged businessmen, industrialists, traders, transporters, shopkeepers, hoteliers and contractors “not to be frightened by militant threats and separatists and go about their normal activities”.

“Credible inputs continue to be received of the likelihood of large scale damage of life and property but also create an atmosphere of fear and among the people.  Banned organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen continue to make attempts to instill fear of J&K,” he said.

Kansal said there was no “unnecessary” loss of life because of measures of security forces and the people. “This is remarkable, given the history of events in 2008, 2010 and 2016. Some killings and injuries have been inflicted by militants including on a baby to prevent traders, businessmen and transporters from doing their normal business,” he said.

Principal Secretary noted since August 16, there has been a gradual removal of the restrictions that were imposed and by the first week of September most of the restrictions were removed.

“Barring 8-10 police stations, movement restrictions have been completely removed. Over 99% of the area of Jammu and Kashmir has no restrictions on movement. Landlines have been fully restored and are functioning for over six weeks. Besides, mobile phone facilities were restored in Jammu and Ladakh, and subsequently in Kupwara district”, he said.

Kansal emphasized that the media was facilitated through the Media Facilitation Centre equipped with all facilities. “Schools were gradually reopened since August and universities, colleges and secondary schools were reopened in the last 10 days. Examination schedules have been announced. Air services are operating normally and air booking has been facilitated in Srinagar with new counters in the city,” he said.

Principal Secretary said 25 Internet kiosks are operating in each district in the district development commissioner offices to help students, contractors, and government departments to carry out their functions. Students have been using this facility to apply for exams, download admission cards, he said.

To help apple growers, he stated that an ambitious Market Intervention Scheme has been launched by the Central Government through NAFED and the Horticulture department. “Prices for apples have been revised last week”, he said.

‘Detentions being reviewed’

Srinagar, Oct 12:  Breaking silence, Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday said some people were detained as a preventive measures post August 5.

 “There has been a lot of development post August 5 and that was required a certain kind of action including detentions. Decisions were taken at the local level by law enforcing agencies after taking all facts into consideration. All these detentions are being reviewed. Security situation is continuously being accessed. People continue to be released and this process will go on,” said Rohit Kansal, J&K government spokesperson.

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Grenade blast in Srinagar market, 9 injured

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 12: At least nine people were injured in a grenade attack by suspected militants in a busy market area in summer capital Srinagar on Saturday, the 69th day of the ongoing situation in Kashmir.

Militants hurled a grenade in Hari Singh High Street market area, a police official said.

The grenade exploded on the roadside in the market, injuring nine people, he said, adding that the wounded were rushed to SMHS hospital here.

 

According to the official, the explosion also damaged windows of a vehicle parked nearby.

He said the shops in the market were shut but a few vendors had set up stalls in the area.

The grenade exploded with a bang when a large number of people were busy in buying items from road side vendors.

The area was immediately put under cordon and a search operation was underway at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar following the grenade attack, the official added.

Police rushed to spot after the incident and shifted the injured to hospital. The injured have been identified as Farooq Ahmed Kadla of Lal Bazar, Basit Sheikh from Batamaloo, Muhammad Younis of Bemina, Shahid Ahmed of Padshahi Bagh, Sabah Malik of Zoonimar, Suhail Mir from Pampore, Bilal Ahmed of Uri, Saifullah of Zaldagar and Abdul Rahim Wani of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

The injured are in a stable condition, the police said in the tweet.

Meanwhile, the situation across Kashmir remained unchanged on the 69th day as well. Business, educational activities remained suspended while public transport continued to remain off the roads.

A lot of private vehicles were seen plying on the roads while scores of roadside vendors too were seen doing business at key city areas.

The ongoing turmoil was triggered on August 5 when the government of India abrogated Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories – J&K, and Ladakh (With inputs from KNT)

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Govt kicks off process to vacate forces from schools, colleges

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Oct 12: Jammu and Kashmir government has kicked off the process to vacate the security forces from educational institutes in the valley.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel have been stationed in different schools and colleges of the valley since August 5 when the government of India revoked Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference by government spokesman, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, SP Pani said the process of evacuating forces from educational institutes has begun. 

 

Secretary Higher Education Department, Talat Parvez Rohella said: “The forces will be removed from all the educational institutes by the time classwork begins.”

Presently, paramilitary troops are deployed in SP Higher Secondary School, National Institute of Technology (NIT) and Government Polytechnic College, Gogjibagh. Besides, forces are deployed in educational institutions at Khan Sahab, Handwara and other areas.

 “Schools have been gradually reopened since August. Also universities, colleges and higher secondary schools were reopened in the last ten days,” said Rohit Kansal, J&K government spokesman.

Earlier on August 19, authorities had ordered reopening of primary schools followed by middle schools from August 21. Later on October 3, the directives regarding the opening of high and higher secondary schools were announced, yet the students continued to stay away from educational institutes.

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