Srinagar, Nov 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has dissolved the state assembly as both Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form government in the state.
“The governor, Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik has passed an order in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir dissolving the Legislative Assembly,” the order reads.
“By virtue of powers vested upon me in terms of Proclamation No. P-1/18 of 2018 dated 20th June 2018 issued under sub-section (1) of section 92 and in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, I hereby dissolve the Legislative assembly,” said an order issued by the governor.
Soon after assembly was dissolved Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and wrote, “JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears.”
Earlier, Sajad Lone claimed he has the support of 26 BJP legislators and 18 others, which would cross the majority mark of 44, Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti says she has the support of the Congress and the National Conference, taking their collective total to 56.
“As you are aware that Peoples Democratic Party is the largest party in the State assembly having a strength of 29. You might have gathered from the media reports that the Congress and National Conference has a strength of 15 and the Congress 12. That takes over collective strength to 56,” her letter reads.
Earlier, Congress, People’s Democratic Party, and National Conference have “agreed” to form the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir to “protect” the special status of the state.
Senior PDP leader, Altaf Bukhari, after meeting the NC leader Omar Abdullah, told the reporters that three parties have agreed to form the coalition government in the state in the interest of the state.
“Article 370 is our identity. We need to safeguard it. It is the constitution of India that grants special status to the state. We have been doing everything possible to defend it,” he said.
Bukhari said, “By Thursday, people of the state would receive good news with regard to government formation.”
“Keeping in view the political situation and the aspirations of the people, we have joined hands. Around 60 MLAs have come together. It is good that an elected government would be in place to run the affairs,” he said.
He said the “communal forces” have so far not been able to make entry into the state.
“We need to keep them away,” he said.
He, however, said he was not aware of the contours of the alliance.
“We have agreed to form the government to respond to the situation. Serious discussion is going on between the leaders of three parties,” Bukhari said.
Asked who would be the chief minister, he replied, “He will be from among the leaders”.
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad confirmed that talks were going on among the three parties over government formation in the state.
“We (NC, Congress, PDP) thought why not to unite and form a government together. Talks are going on, but as of now it is only a suggestion…We haven’t reached that stage yet where we can form the government,” said Azad, responding to queries on potential Congress-PDP-NC alliance.
Senior National Conference leader, Nasir Aslam Wani said a “thought process” was going on between the mainstream parties. “Beyond that nothing has come so far,” Wani said.
He said if Government of India can wish to talk to Pakistan and Hurriyat, there was nothing wrong between the mainstream parties to talk to each other.
State Congress Chief, G A Mir, said there was nothing wrong in talks between the mainstream parties.
“So far there are no formal talks. When the formal meetings are held only then decisions will be taken,” Mir said, adding he was going to New Delhi for a party meeting.
He, however, has been quoted by a local news agency saying they have “sixty member team and…will see whether the governor can dissolve the House undemocratically”.
“All secular parties have come together for the bigger interest of state and public. For saving constitution may it be Article 370 and 35A, we have to rise above party lines especially when eminent dangers are bigger,” Mir said.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
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)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
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).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
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.