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If voted to power, NC will review cases against youth: Omar

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Apr 4: National Conference (NC) Vice-president and former cheif minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said cases registered against Jammu and Kashmir youth since 2015, after the PDP-BJP alliance came to power in the state, would be reviewed and the FIRs cancelled if his party is voted to power.

Addressing an election meeting here in Chijhama village of Rafiabad in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, Abdullah said he wanted to create an atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir where people could talk freely.

“There are cases against our youth under which they are called to police stations even today. The NC government will review each case, one by one, registered against our youth right since 2015 and especially of 2016 (unrest) and afterwards and cancel their FIRs so that our youth are set free,” he said.

 

Cases were registered against several youths in the valley during the unrest which followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with government forces in Kokernag area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district in July 2016.

“We want to attract our people towards us, we want such a situation here where we can talk to each other freely and address the problems of this state. I want to see that day when we would not need this (concertina) wire and rope when we come to see each other, when we would not need policemen or security,” the NC leader said.

“(I want to see) a day when if I make some mistake, you would come and hold my collar and ask me, ‘Omar, we had given you an opportunity to serve us and represent us but why didn’t you’. We want return of that Kashmir which has been snatched from us,” Abdullah said.

Referring to the state’s accession with the Union of India, he said the NC wanted restoration of terms agreed upon by the two sides at that time.

“We want restoration of those powers on the basis of which our accession took place and which have been gradually taken (away) from us and against which conspiracies are going on even today,” he said.

Hitting out at Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Abdullah said the people of Jammu and Kashmir could not rely on her for safeguarding the state’s special status.

“I was in the parliament when a debate was going on (ahead of trust vote in July 2008) and two members were given the opportunity to talk about the state — me and Mehbooba. I spoke for about five minutes and said whatever I could, but when the Speaker asked Mehbooba to speak, she said ‘what can I say?’ and sat down. Do we need such representatives who go there and stay silent?” he asked the gathering.

He said the NC is the only party which can safeguard Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Abdullah also reiterated his promise of revoking the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) in the state if his party returns to power.

“The NC has made a promise to the people of the state to remove PSA under which our youth are arrested. If God wills and NC forms the government, I promise you that we will remove this law. I am not saying that we will not use it, because if someone else comes after me, then he will use it,” he said.

Abdullah asserted that his party would fulfil its promise unlike the PDP.

“We will not even change its (PSA) nomenclature like the pen and inkpot people (party symbol of the PDP) did with (special) task force. In 2002, Sayeed said they will disband the task force. But what did he do after he came to power? He changed its name but kept it as it was. It has same functions and same officers, but a new name like old wine in new bottles,” he said.

“We will not change PSA’s name, we will wipe it out from this state so that our elders and mothers do not need to go to police stations to look for their children,” he said.


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After mysterious threat posters: Shutdown stages comeback in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 21:  Barely a week into normalcy, Kashmir observed an instant shutdown on Thursday after mysterious threat posters appeared in the old city.

Shops and business establishments remained closed.  Slender traffic movement however was observed on the Srinagar roads.

For the last one week, shops and business establishments, which would normally close before noon, remained open till late afternoon. Public transport had also hit roads after three and half month’s hiatus.

 

But on Thursday, shutdown returned to parts of the valley following mysterious threat posters. On Wednesday unknown people had put up posters in old city asking shopkeepers to observe hartal.

What added to the crisis was the mysterious fire that razed four shops to ground at Bohri Kadal on Wednesday. The incident also prompted shopkeepers to down shutters. Unknown people had inscribed “Last Warning” on the shutters of various shops at Zaina Kadal, apparently to enforce shutdown in the old city.

“None of the shops opened today as some warning posters had come up in downtown yesterday,” said a shopkeeper from Bohri Kadal.

Impact of warning posters was also seen in Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Maisuma and Hari Singh High Street, which for the last one week saw huge rush of shoppers.

Traffic which plied normally till noon, thinned later in the day with few passenger vehicles plying in civil line areas. Complete shutdown was also observed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, and Shopian. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district too observed shutdown.

Police sources said they are trying to identify the people who put up threat posters in the old city. “We are enquiring. We are looking into the case,” said VK Birdhi, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range.

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WPD seeks help to protect migratory birds flocking Kashmir wetlands

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Nov 21: As migratory birds start flocking wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir, the Wildlife Protection Department (WPD) has sought assistance from the forest protection force and the police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of the winged visitors.

Lakhs of birds start arriving in the valley from the first week of November as Kashmir provides them a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The general public is informed that hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of migratory birds is punishable under Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Any person venturing to hunt, poach, capture or sell these birds is liable to a jail term of one year along with fine up to Rs 10,000,” WPD said in a statement here.

 

It said the hunting, poaching, capturing or sale of these birds is non-bailable and non-compoundable offences.

“The department seeks assistance from the forest protection force and the local police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of these migratory birds in the wetlands of Kashmir,” the statement said.

It said these birds are enlisted in various schedules of Indian Wildlife Protection Act and receive complete protection against hunting, poaching, capturing and selling.

The birds found in the wetlands include migratory ducks and geese which include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon.

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Post abrogation of Art 370: Multinationals, manufacturing giants make beeline to set up units in UT

J&K receives `Expression of Interest’ worth Rs 3000 Cr

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 20: Dalmia Bharat Group, Singapore Electric vehicles and Dubai-based Lulu Internationals are among over 40 companies, which have shown interest in investing in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.  

Jammu and Kashmir, which was a no-go- zone for outside investors, has been opened for all national and international business players after the scrapping of special status on August 5.

A source told The Kashmir Monitor that more than 40 companies have submitted their ‘Expression of Interest’ to invest in 10 different sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Hospitality, Tourism, Education, Information Technology, Horticulture, Agriculture, Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) and manufacturing are some of the sectors which companies have zeroed in on.

“Prominent among these companies include Escott Infrastructure, Dalmia Bharat Group, Shree Cements, Jackson Group, Indian School of Business, Singapore Electric Vehicles and Lulu Group. They have submitted the proposals for setting up their units in Jammu and Kashmir,” the source said.

With an annual turnover of Rs 70, 000 crore, Dalmia Bharat Group is a renowned business house in India, which deals with cement, sugar, thermal power and other businesses.

Similarly, Kolkata-based Shree Cement, which has annual turnover of Rs 58.50 billion, has shown interest in setting up its unit in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singapore based Singapore Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a commercial electric fleet company, has desired to invest in the manufacturing sector.

Founded in 2001, Indian School of Business, a private business college, has expressed readiness to invest in the education sector by setting up its campuses in the union territory.

Helmet manufacturing giant ‘Steelbird’ has also offered to set up a plant in Jammu and Kashmir. Hospitality player ‘Lemon Tree’ has also proposed two new properties with 35-40 beds each in Gulmarg and Sonmarg areas.

An official privy to the development said government has received 60 ‘Expression of Interests’ so far, which is worth approximately Rs 3000 crore.

“Some companies have submitted their Expression of Interests twice. Some wants to build tourism infrastructure and others want to set up industries,” he said.

Managing Director SIDCO, Ravinder Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor that a committee has been constituted to review the ‘Expression of Interest’ by these companies. “We are going to review the Expression of Interests in 10 to 12 days,” he said.

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