Srinagar, Apr 9: A group of India’s intellectuals including former government servants, academicians, journalists and civil society members have written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and expressed their collective concerns over the “worsening” situation in Kashmir.
The letter is signed by former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Ravi Vira, former Secretary, Ministry of Defense Amitabh Pande, former Home Secretary of India Gopal Pillai, former Secretary Hindal Tyabji, and academicians and authors including Anand Sahay, Prem Shankar Jha, Radha Kumar Happymon Jacob, Shiv Vishwanathan and Badri Raina.
In the letter, the signatories have specified that president’s rule coupled with crackdowns and arrests in Kashmir are “formidable disincentives” to the voting exercise.
“In these conditions, what kind of a turnout can we expect in the valley? Taken together, the policy of President’s rule, counter-insurgency, crackdowns and arrests, combined with threats to rollback Articles 370 and 35-A and alterations to the administrative structure of the state, provide formidable disincentives to vote,” the letter reads.
The signatories have mentioned that the closure of the highway for forces’ movement would weaken the “democratic credentials and attract the military rule.”
“It is, moreover, only the most recent of a series of actions that add to disaffection in the valley. Others include banning the JKLF and the Jamaat-e-Islami, imprisoning their leaders as well as those of the Hurriyat, and denying security to members of political parties,” it said.
The signatories slammed BJP by claiming that its rule in last four years has undone the hardwork of 15 years by previous regimes in Kashmir.
In the letter, the intellectuals suggested the Home Ministry for immediate rollback of its decisions, which they believe deteriorated situation in Kashmir.
“The first step would be to rescind orders for closure of the highway, followed by release of those arrested (unless there is substantive evidence of their being involved in recent terrorist attacks such as on the CRPF at Pulwama), restoration of security to political leaders and return to a policy of defense against attack rather than preemptive action. If your government could initiate a Ramzan ceasefire, then why not one for elections?”
“No reasoned explanation has been offered. These elections offer an opportunity to craft a more conciliatory policy towards the people of the state, including dissidents who have engaged in peace initiatives, such as the Hurriyat M, who have once again held out an offer of talks,” it said.
In the letter, the intellectuals criticised the BJP’s manifesto, saying it is opposed to conciliation in Jammu and Kashmir.”
“Nevertheless, whether your party wishes to avail of this opportunity or not, surely you would recognize that governance is larger than party interest and a change of course is required. Lest the situation in the state worsens to a point of no return. We urge you, even at this late stage, to take the steps mentioned above. Jammu and Kashmir will only then be able to have a free and fair election,” it said.
Former Kashmir interlocutor and one of the signatories, Radha Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor the policies of the current government for Kashmir compelled them to write to the Union Home Minster about the ground situation.
“It was a very hard task to find email of the Home Ministry as all their contacts mentioned in websites are incorrect. Actually we are a group of people who are aware of the situation in Kashmir and are upset about it,” she said.
“We have written on Kashmir so far and we thought to find something which will have more weightage,” she said.
Voter turnout in Bijbehara, Anantnag a lesson for Mehbooba : Omar
Kulgam, Apr 24: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said that the low voter turnout in Anantnag and Bijbehara is a lesson for PDP and Mehbooba Mufti.
He asserted that the ensuing elections are significant since it provides the people of the state an opportunity to reveal how passionately they feel about their identity including Art370, Art 35-A.
Addressing two separate public meets at Chawalgam and Homeshalibug, Kulgam party vice president said that the threats of BJP-RSS to abrogate Art 370, Art 35A will be defeated as the people of the state will not allow them succeed in their nefarious designs. “ Today state is facing an assault on its special status from all sides, however all the machinations of the forces as are inimical to our status will fall flat if the people of our state show resoluteness in protecting the identity and integrity of our state. This time people across the state have taken it upon themselves to trounce the efforts as are hell bent to destroy the special constitutional status of the state,” he said adding, “Today’s elections is not about choosing MLA’s, today our state is fraught with a challenging situation. The need of the hour is to send a representative to Parliament who can fight for the interests of state, the situation that the state is facing today demands of having a credible voice at Delhi who can work tireless both within and outside parliament for the protection of Art 370, Art 35-A. Seeing the scope of work and the challenges we are facing, we considerately fielded Retired Justice Hasnain Sb from Anantnag constituency. He is known for his pronounced judgments on Art 370, Art 35 A. He boasts the necessary political and legal acumen to deal with the situation.”
While highlighting the importance of Art 370, Art 35 A, Omar said, “It is needless to say how important Art 370, Art 35-A are for the state and its people. Today the people of our state are masters of its own land. They work on their land, and derive their sustenance from it. God forbid, if these articles are done away with, the consequences that will follow shall be beyond our comprehension. The people of the state will stop to cleave to a respectable denomination which Sher- e- Kashmir bestowed upon them through famous land to tiller reforms and other people friendly measures. Our kids would not be able to derive various scholarships from government. The youth of our state will cease to be the sole beneficiary of jobs in government sector. Keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences of abrogation of our status, we deemed it fit to have Hasnain Masoodi represent us in parliament from Anantnag.”
Mehbooba demands release of Yasin Malik
Srinagar, Apr 24: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday demanded the release of separatist leader Yasin Malik.
“Yasin Malik should be released immediately as he is really unwell. Also other members of Jamaat-e-Islami should be released. Sadhvi Pragya on whom there are several serious accusations has been set free,” Mufti said.
Delhi’s Patiala House Court Wednesday sent Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik to judicial custody till May 24 in connection with a 2017 alleged funding case.
Mehbooba also lodged a note of protest against a slew of measures brought about in the valley recently.
“After the encounter, families of militants are harassed and the cross LoC trade which was taking place through Muzaffarabad has also been stopped. The National Highway is closed for traffic for two days in a week and security forces are interfering in the daily life of people. We are protesting against all these issues,” she said.
Elections in the state are staggered in five phases which began on April 11 and culminate on May 6. The counting of votes will be done on May 23.
Rains lash Kashmir; weather to improve from today
Srinagar, Apr 24: Rains continued to lash Kashmir since Tuesday evening, bringing the average temperature down in the valley.
The local meteorological department predicted improvement in weather conditions from Thursday evening.
The rains began on Tuesday evening and continued intermittently till this evening. The rains in the Valley led to dip in the temperature.
Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said that the weather conditions in Kashmir would improve from Thursday evening.
He said the light rainfall would continue intermittently till Thursday evening following which there will be improvement in the weather.
Ahmad said that in plains the weather would improve from Thursday afternoon while in higher reaches it will start improving from the evening.
Meanwhile, an official in Meteorological department informed that Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 12.0 degrees Celsius Tuesday night against 8.9 degrees Celsius normal for this time of the season.
The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir received 3.9 mm of rain since overnight till 8:30 hours, he said.
The official said that Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded a low of 10.8 degrees Celsius and had a rainfall of 6.8 mm while the mercury in Kokernag town in south Kashmir settled at a low of 9.2 degrees Celsius and it had 8.6 mm of rains during the time.
Govt directs hospitals to display rate list of tests, lab investigations
Srinagar, Apr 25: Government has issued a circular to all hospitals and health institutions directing them to display rate list...
Chowkidaar needs your votes to win fight against ‘terror’: PM Modi in Bihar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit out at the opposition over terrorism and national security, saying they deny these...
Kashmir NEET aspirants alloted four more centres
Srinagar: To accommodate all the 9,250 aspirants from the Kashmir Valley for this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)...
Mirwaiz, Bilal Lone visit Yasin Malik’s residence
Srinagar, Apr 25: Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Independent Movement chairman Bilal...
VIDEO|IT raids ex-J&K Minister’s properties in Srinagar
Srinagar: Income Tax (I-T) officials on Thursday carried out raids in Srinagar city at the properties of former Jammu and...
Why does ED felt to summon Sama Shabir again, Omar asks
Srinagar : The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah on Thursday...
VIDEO | Two local militants killed in Bijbehara gunfight
Anantnag, April 25 : Two militants have been killed in an encounter that raged between government forces and militants in...