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Govt will re-examine the issue of accountability to legislature: Guv

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Srinagar, Dec 4: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday allayed fears of J&K bank employees and said safeguarding the autonomy and operational independence of the institution would remain the key objective of the state administration.

Malik gave the assurance to a delegation of bank employees who called on him here, an official spokesman said.

Last month, the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by the governor approved a proposal for treating the J&K Bank Limited as a PSU, bringing it under the purview of the Right to Information Act, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner guidelines and the state legislature.

The SAC move has come under widespread criticism from mainstream political parties, separatists and business and trade organisations.

“As far as the PSU matter is concerned, the J&K Bank is regulated (i) by the RBI as an old generation private sector bank, (ii) by the Registrar of Companies as it is a Government Company under the Companies Act and (iii) by SEBI as it is a listed company. It will continue to be regulated by the RBI, SEBI and the Registrar of Companies. No changes are being made here or contemplated,” the governor told the delegation.

“The J&K Bank is registered as a government company under the Companies Act. The word PSU has no legal connotation. The bank continues to be a government Owned company. No new changes are being made here,” he said.

The governor said as a government company, the J&K Bank is a public authority under the RTI Act and hence is automatically subject to the transparency provisions of the RTI.

“Nothing new is being imposed in this regard. Transparency is good for the bank in the long term,” he said.

Malik said as far as the accountability to the legislature is concerned, all government-owned or controlled companies, including the J&K Bank which is registered as a government company, are accountable to the legislature in some respect.

“This is what has been stated in the SAC decision. This does not add any new element. However, in view of the concerns expressed, and to give comfort to employees, the government will re-examine the issue of accountability to legislature,” he said.

He said the J&K Bank is a premier institution of the state and its financial health and future growth is of utmost importance to Jammu and Kashmir. “Therefore, the administration would support all initiatives and take necessary steps to make the J&K Bank a vibrant institution,” the governor said.

He said the workers should not be concerned about their employment, future prospects or salary structure under any circumstances. “The board of the bank is competent to take decisions in this regard and the powers vest in the board. No changes are being contemplated on this front,” he said.

Malik said the board of the bank is the appropriate forum for taking and implementing all decisions. “Safeguarding the autonomy and operational independence of the bank is a key objective of the administration at all times,” Malik added.


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Lead Stories

Assembly, Parl polls to be held together possibly in May

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Election Commission of India is preparing to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir earlier next year, while it has initiated the process for the polls.

According to a letter dispatched by the Chief Electoral Officer—a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Monitor—the district election officers have been directed to send a proposal of appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The letter has been sent following the Election Commission of India sought the details about the officials.

An official associated with the CEO said they have been told that the Assembly polls would be clubbed with Lok Sabha.

“The elections may be held in March or in April,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.

The official said the poll body has directed them to start preparations for the polls.

“The security is one of the issues. On the pattern of urban local bodies and Panchayat polls, the Assembly and Parliament elections will be held in a phased manner,” the official said.

“When forces are deployed for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, it would be convenient for election authorities to hold the Assembly polls simultaneously,” the official said.

Mentioning a Supreme Court direction, the official said the outer limit for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months.

National Conference has demanded for joint Assembly and Parliament polls, following the dissolution of the House.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term.

The term of the prematurely terminated government was to end on March 16, 2021.

The Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly shortly after the People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of NC and Congress.

She cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House.

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Militants kill 4 cops, flee with rifles in Shopian

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Four J&K policemen were killed after militants attacked a police post in Zainapora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.

A police official said a group of militants opened fire at the police post, resulting in the on spot death of three security guards and injuries to another at Zainapora.

The injured cop was taken to a local hospital where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar. However, he succumbed on way to Srinagar, said the official.

The policemen were inside their guard room when the militants fired at them anddecamped with their service rifles.

The slain cops were identified as Constable Anees Ahmad (Belt No. 480/SPN), resident of Kulgam, selection grade constable Abdul Majid (193/SPN), resident of Ganderbal, Constable Mehraj-ud-din (477/SPN), resident of Hajin Bandipora and constable Hameedullah (860/SPN), resident of Anantnag.

Majid was the fourth one to die in the attack.

The area was soon cordoned off and a search operation was launched.

Media reports quoting police sources said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants led by former police officer Adil Bashir, who left the force after stealing eight rifles in October, were believed to be involved in the attack.

JeM militant outfit claimed the responsibility of the attack.

A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to media, said: “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”

Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.

Later in the day, the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops took place in District Police Lines, Shopian.

“Civil and Police Officers including Munir Ahmed Khan, ADGP (Security/Law & Order/HG), IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani, DIG SKR Amit Kumar laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cops “who made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” said a police spokesperson.

“Among others who paid floral tributes including SP Shopian, DC Shopian, officers and jawans of the district and officers from other forces,” the spokesman added.

Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen.

In a message Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.

On Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “I strongly condemn the attack on the police post in Shopian &condole the deaths of three police personnel in the line of duty. I pray for their souls & for the speedy recovery of those injured in this attack (sic)”.

Peoples Conference (PC) chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone called the attack in Shopian another “mindless act of violence”.

Sajad tweeted: “The attack in Shopian on police personnel is yet another mindless act of violence. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty.”

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BJP shaken, Congress break in

Agencies

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New Delhi, Dec 11: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday suffered heavy election defeats in two states, with another on a knife edge, in a bruising day of results that exposed the party’s vulnerability less than six months before the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ending its prolonged electoral reversals, a reinvigorated Congress produced a resilient comeback as it is on course to oust the BJP to form its governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, is witnessing a tantalisingly close fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

The governing BJP vote collapsed by 17 percentage points in Rajasthan state and by at least 12 points in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the Hindi heartland where Indian governments are traditionally made or broken.

Those losses, as well as the revival of a Congress party frequently written off in the past five years, had analysts revising their predictions for next year’s national polls, which Modi had been expected to win in a cakewalk.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), on the other hand, secured a thumping majority in Telangana while MNF has defeated Congress in the latter’s last bastions in Northeast.

TRS chief K ChandrashekarRao’s gamble for early polls paid rich dividends with the ruling party winning 57 seats and leading in 30 of the 119 constituencies. The Congress-TDP alliance, ‘Prajakutami’, has won 14 seats and is leading in 7, according to the Election Commission.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, KCR said TRS would play a crucial role in the national political arena. “We dedicate this victory to the people of Telangana. This is a positive vote for us. We are going to play a very crucial role in national politics. We will give a new definition to the national political scenario” he said. Rao, who is set to return as CM for a second term, further said, “Today’s results…Telangana has shown the way to the whole nation. Today, Telangana stands (as) a non-Congress, non-BJP state.”

The outcome of the elections is significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats, of which the BJP grabbed 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its high.

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