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Guv Malik meets Rajnath

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Oct 10: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik Wednesday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed the situation in the state, where the elections to the urban local bodies are underway, officials said.

During the half-an-hour meeting, the governor apprised Singh about the law and order in the state, particularly in Kashmir Valley.

The governor also briefed the home minister on the ongoing urban local bodies polls in Jammu and Kashmir, an official privy to the meeting said. The state is currently under the governor’s rule and Malik is the administrative head of the state.

The second phase of the four-phased urban local bodies polls was underway Wednesday.

A majority of people stayed away from polling booths in Kashmir Valley where the turnout was a paltry 8.3 per cent in the first phase of the polling Monday. Jammu and Ladakh divisions saw over 65 per cent of the electorate casting vote in the first phase of urban local body polls on Monday.

The election process is underway to elect 4,130 ‘sarpanches’ (village headmen), 29,719 ‘panches’ (panchayat members) and 1,145 ward commissioners in the state.

A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 municipal wards. The next phases will take place on October 13 and 16.

The urban local body polls were announced last month. Two major political parties — the National Conference and the PDP — have boycotted the elections accusing the Centre of not taking a firm stand on protection of Article 35-A of the Constitution, which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

In dozens of wards, especially in south Kashmir, no candidate filed nomination papers.

Candidates who are contesting have been moved to safe locations and their details have not been made public.

The panchayat polls in the state will be held in nine phases starting November 17.


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Pre-budget meeting: Kashmir Inc highlights ‘precarious’ economic condition of businesses

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Srinagar, Dec 9: Complaining non-implementation of the previous budgetary allocations, Kashmir Inc Sunday urged the Governor Satya Pal Malik to consider threads of previous announcements before compiling a fresh annual budget.

A delegation of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) headed by its President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, participated in the pre-budget discussions with Advisor to Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma.

As per the statement, KCCI apprised Advisor to Governor about the ‘precarious economic condition of the businesses.’

“Since the previous budget was presented on 11th of January, 2018, we have witnessed no less than four changes in the ministers and Advisors in-charge of the Finance Department. As a result, the policy to aid and enable businesses has not taken off as envisaged in the previous budget. Most of the announcements made have either not been acted upon or stand shelved.” the statement said.

“We suggest that, as a first step, the threads be picked up from the previous budget and announcements made therein regarding trade, commerce and industry be acted upon urgently. Stability and continuity in fiscal policies is essential for ensuring appropriate growth and development,” it added.

Kashmir Inc also urged the Governor led administration to finalise the financial package to assist traders in coping the loss post 2016 unrest.

“In view of the unrest of 2016 further impairing the capacity of businesses to repay their loans, the then Government had taken up the case for giving a suitable financial package with the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India. We urge you to kindly take up the finalisation of a package for which Central Government and RBI intervention at the highest level may be required,” the statement said.

“The problems caused due to the delay in releasing of GST refunds to our industrial sector was also taken up,” it added.

KCCI in the meeting appealed the Governor for hiring a highly professional PR firm to counter negative publicity given by sections of media.

“We urged for upgradation of the tourism related infrastructure and engagement of a professional PR Firm for countering of negative publicity given by sections of the media. The need for inclusion of tour and travel operators for availing various marketing and promotional schemes at national and global levels was also discussed,” the statement said.

“The Budget allocation for tourism promotion was requested to be augmented. The diversion of funds from the Prime Ministers package meant for interest subvention for Hoteliers was also taken up. The delegation also strongly protested the non-implementation of budgetary commitments regarding the electricity tariff on industrial rates.”

For handicraft sector, the apex business body urged for need to allocate Rs 2.5 lakh to cover financial debts of artisans.

“The delegation sought marketing assistance for ensuring rotation of carpet stocks and other handicraft products. The negative impact of GST on our handicraft sector and the need for it’s removal was also highlighted.”

The Chamber as per the statement urged for allocation for Information Technology Tower on the lines of the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) in Kashmir.

It said the problems in power sector were duly appraised to the Advisor to the Governor.

“Several suggestions were made for encouraging private investment like execution of Power Purchase Agreements with the private sector for hydro projects upto 25mw. A special budgetary allocation for the infusion of Capital Equity by the State Government for projects under PMDP Schemes was discussed. The delegation also urged for finalisation of the Hydro Policy for JKSPDC for Small Hydro Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) for facilitation of local players,” the statement said.

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Int’l Human Rights Day: Civil society calls for proper documentation of rights’ violation in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Dec 9: Ahead of the International Human Rights Day celebrated across the world on December 10, the civil society in Kashmir suggested proper documentation of the ‘massive human rights abuses in the region.’

Civil society members including renowned lawyers, businessmen, academicians and human rights defenders Sunday spoke at an event “Valley Drenched in Blood” in which they highlighted that “the human rights abuses in Kashmir post 2010 have been highest in last three decades.”

On the occasion, a report on the civilian killings in Kashmir in 2018 was released by the International Forum for Justice Human Rights JK.

As per the report, a total number of 103 civilian killings have been registered at State Human Rights commission (SHRC) office, which included 40 killings at encounter sites.

The report reveals that seven political activists, eight ladies and two mentally challenged persons have been killed this year.

Advocate Zafar Qureshi said that there was a need for proper documentation of the killings and its outreach to people worldwide.

“The situation currently is worse than 90s when armed struggle started in Kashmir. I visited to jails in Jammu in the year 1990 and saw the plight of the prisoners who were treated like animals,” he said.

Qureshi claimed that many human rights violation cases “go unreported” in Kashmir.

“Our voice should be heard as human right situation has deteriorated in the valley. Animals are secure in present days’ life than humans in Kashmir. Making reports is not enough as our voice should reach to the right quarters,” he said.

Civil Society activist, Prof Hameeda Nayeem claimed the “disdain response” to the United Nation’s report on human right abuses by India explained the “severity” of the situation in Kashmir.”

“Not just human rights, many other rights listed by United Nations stand violated in Kashmir. Governor is like viceroy of Kashmir who at the behest of RSS and RSS is running government here,” she said.

Hameeda said, “In Kashmir it is not only occupation but a colonial system prevails where economy, culture and social life is crushed apart from the killing on a mass scale.”

Advocate Abdul Majeed Zargar suggested the need for using social media to raise awareness in other nations about “human rights abuses in Kashmir.”

“It is surprising to see Kashmir’s diaspora silent on the issues of human rights violation. Why can’t they protest or either goes on hunger strike outside UN Office?” he said.

Advocate Zargar said the victims in Kashmir too are not taken care by the society.

Noted economist Shakeel Qalandar said the economy of the state has fallen “drastically” due to the conflict in the valley.

“In 1947 the import export ration for Kashmir used to be 1:3, which now has been reduced to 7:1. Our economy is being crushed and we are being made dependent society,” he said.

On the occasion, human rights activist Ahsan Untoo said they were attacked multiple times during the compilation of the report.

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Shailendra Kumar to take charge as JK CEO on Wed

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Srinagar, Dec 9: Shailendra Kumar will take over as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday replacing the incumbent Shaleen Kabra, a day after the completion of the ongoing nine-phased panchayat polls in the state.

Kabra (IAS-1992), after relinquishing his charge, will be the principal secretary to the government, industries and commerce department and will also hold the additional charge of principal secretary to the government, housing and urban development department to look after the work of smart cities and proposed new Jammu and Srinagar metropolitan regional development authorities, officials said.

Amid ongoing panchayat polls, the Election Commission of India had Friday appointed Kumar, the 1995-batch IAS officer, as the CEO.

After a gap of seven years, the panchayat elections in the state began on November 17 and will culminate on December 11.

The panchayat elections followed four-phased Urban Local Bodies elections, held in the state after a gap of 13 years, in October.

“In pursuance of notification issued by election commission of India on December 7, Shalindra Kumar (IAS-1995) is appointed as chief electoral officer, Jammu and Kashmir. Kumar shall also be the principal secretary to the government, election department,” an order issued by General Administration department on Saturday said.

In another order, it said Kabra is recalled and posted as principal secretary to the government, industries and commerce department.

The officer shall assume the charge after relinquishing the charge of the CEO on December 12.

“He shall also hold the additional charge of principal secretary to the government, housing and urban development department to look after the work of smart cities and proposed new Jammu/Srinagar metropolitan regional development authorities, till further orders,” the order said.

The order said Reva Kumari (KAS), secretary to the government, Ladakh affairs department, is transferred and posted as secretary to the government, ARI and training department, relieving Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, IAS, commissioner secretary to the government, department of forest, ecology and environment of the additional charge of the post.

Rigzian Sampheal, IAS, secretary to the government, tourism department, shall hold the charge of the post of administrative secretary, Ladakh affairs department, in addition to his own duties, till further orders, the order said.

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