Srinagar, Sep 24: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has said that his administration took a calculated risk to hold the local body elections in the state.
Malik, in an interview to The Hindu, Malik said that if they cannot hold panchayat elections, then how will parliamentary elections be possible?
“We took a calculated risk to hold the elections. I met the leaders of all political parties — they say something in person and their public posturing is different,” he said.
Malik believes that Kashmir problem is not that of the political parties.
“Hurriyat is also not a problem as they have lost credibility among the people; because of Pakistan they don’t want to participate in dialogue. The youth in the 13-20 age group are being targeted by the militants. Moulvis (religious preachers), who operate on foreign money, are the ones who mislead them,” he said.
He said to reach out to young generation, he had engaged some NGOs to analyse the reasons for the frustration and alienation among the youth.
“I got the feedback that the reason for the frustration in 46% of youth who are in the 13-20 age group is that they do not have anything to do after 6 pm. There are no cinema halls, no coffee shops… I met IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla and suggested that J&K should also have a separate team… you cannot win them over by arguments, you cannot argue with them on Islam, it increases the fanaticism…Nowhere in the world now can a new country be born, look at LTTE, even they couldn’t seize power in Sri Lanka… [The youth should] get into IAS, get into IPS, rule India,” Malik believes.
Malik, as per the report, said that candidates of all parties will participate in elections without the party symbol.
“Farooq Abdullah said twice that these elections are not for Delhi or the Governor. Then he changed his stance. All this is posturing for MLA elections. It is not that they are scared — they move around in bulletproof vehicles,” he was quoted as having said by The Hindu.
Governor, as per the report, said that he is “hopeful that people will come out and vote in these local body polls”.
“Of course people will come out and vote. Farooq Abdullah was elected on 7% vote percentage; we would get much higher votes… The problem of J&K arose from rigging of polls. We will never do this,” Malik said.
Asked about the security of contesting candidates, Malik said that they are giving Rs 10 lakh insurance cover to every candidate in panchayats.
“We will provide them personal security and if they don’t want to live at their house we will give them a safe place to stay during elections,” he said.
Malik said that till an elected government is formed in the state, the hearing of Article 35A should be delayed. “We are not elected representatives. We don’t disrespect the mandate of the State government. When an elected government is in place, it can take a stand in court and till then no hearing should take place,” he said.
When asked why former DGP SP Vaid said the condition is not conducive to hold elections, Governor Malik said: “It’s a rumour. He was part of the decision-making and joint assessment.”
Malik believes that rigging by Congress in two elections lead to political alienation among youth. “Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I can assure that there will be no such thing… No government formation will take place through underhand means. There will be elections; whoever wins will be sworn to power. The real trouble began in Kashmir when they dislodged elected governments… that will not be repeated,” he said,
What asked about the possible government formation in J&K, governor said, “I want to promise that we will not form a government by underhand means? Proper elections will be held”
Governer Malik said that he has told DGP on the very first day that no innocent should be harassed and called to the police station, until and unless there is something substantial against him. “You [police] will not extort money from them, and if I get a complaint, then action will be taken against the SHO as well as the DSP. They [youth] are threatened that they will be framed in stone-throwing incidents, this kind of harassment is there. This should stop. They should be given cricket balls instead of stones,” he said.
Asked about the killing of policemen and threats to SPOs, governor said that they are developing a separate colony for policemen in safe areas, where the families can stay.
”We have increased the compensation amount from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh. [I am] trying to increase it to Rs 1 crore. The children of policemen will get free education. The policemen who go home are killed… [Hence] we are making guest houses in police lines so that families can come and visit them there. So they [policemen] don’t have to go to the mohalla (locality); if they go, they will go with security. Hardship allowance will also be increased,” Malik said.
He said that they are increasing the salary of SPOs from Rs 6,000 to Rs 16,000. “The compensation to SPOs who are killed on duty has been doubled. Of the total SPOs, around 5% were inducted in the regular police force — this has been doubled. People are queuing up to join as SPOs,” he said.
Governer Malik said that detaining Riyaz Naikoo’s father was “unfortunate”. “Riyaz Naikoo’s father was detained, it was unfortunate. He was released subsequently. But terrorists should know that if they target the families of policemen, then their family members are also here, so this dignity should be maintained. The fight is between you and me, not the relatives,” he said.
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.