Srinagar, Oct 4: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, in an interview with Indian Express, said that “India has made mistakes, and its mistakes have, in the process, alienated itself” from the people of the Kashmir Valley.
He said his priority is to “create an environment of trust” in which the government of Insi can initiate talks with mainstream parties and even the Hurriyat if they come to the table “without the condition of involving Pakistan”.
He stated that, ‘Kashmir is not an occupied territory’.
“This is not an occupation. It is another matter if someone chooses to use the occupation term. But no, that is not correct. You can say we have mishandled. India has made mistakes, and its mistakes have, in the process, alienated itself. Because of what has happened, India is being presented as an occupation force. But Kashmir is not an occupied territory, it came to us of its own free will,” he said.
While referring to the onslaught against Article 35-A and Article 370, he said there was ‘nothing to worry about’.
“It is possible that we have not kept the promises made at that time but I guarantee that on 370 and 35A, and I have faith in the Indian judiciary, there is nothing to worry about,” he told IE.
“I am not an elected representative but my stand is that arguments on 35A should be deferred until there is an elected government in power. But even in Himachal (Pradesh) and the (states of) North East, you cannot buy land. Ye kaun sa bada gunaah hai (How is this a major wrong)? These are issues raised due to political reasons,” he said, adding that government of India.
He said holding a dialogue is not his mandate or agenda, but he has to create an environment in which GoI can initiate talks with political parties in Kashmir and with the Hurriyat if they come to the table “without the condition of involving Pakistan”. “I don’t have the authority to start a political conversation with the Hurriyat but if they want to come and talk about anything else, my gates are open. I have respect for them but I cannot discuss any issue with them. Kashmir ke maamle mein toh Dilli hi baat karegi unse (only Delhi will discuss Kashmir with them).”
“But the condition of Hurriyat, that if Pakistan comes, we will talk, toh hum panchayati nahin karwane wale hain (we will not mediate if Hurriyat insists on the condition of involving Pakistan in talks),” he said.
Stressing that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve the Kashmir issue, Malik said that talks with not just the mainstream parties and the Hurriyat but, “if terrorists wish to nominate someone and say, this person will speak on our behalf and and he keeps his gun down and talks, he should also be spoken to. No one will talk while killings are on”.
On the urban local body and panchayat elections in the state, he said: “Only about 17 per cent of the voters are likely to remain unrepresented. At all other places, there will be voting.”
He said the boycott of the polls by the NC and PDP was “political posturing” for the assembly elections. “However, I will make another final appeal to the mainstream parties, that if they are not contesting, so be it, but do not discourage people from voting,” he said.
While ruling out the possibility of government formation in the state, Malik said: “I can guarantee that there will be no underhand government in Jammu and Kashmir. Elections will be held and whoever is elected will form the government. First, Parliament elections; it is possible that Parliament and assembly may take place together or may be later. I don’t have the brief to provide a timetable for that. However, the election will be fair. There will be an election; no government will be formed resulting from defection while I am in office.”
“While Narendra Modi is Prime Minister, Jammu and Kashmir will see no political machinations. Elections will be absolutely fair.” He said the perception that security forces will be given a free hand during Governor’s rule is incorrect, “In my discussions with all three GOCs, no one has asked for a free hand.” He said he is in favour of “wiping out” militancy, not militants.
“I am not in favour of killing them. We have to kill militancy, not militants. It has to be made useless in the eyes of the people. You kill one militant, and five more will join. But I’m not for that,” he said.
“I want to tell them respectfully that the dreams they have been shown in the last 15-20 years are unrealistic. From Sheikh (Abdullah) Sahab’s time until now — Azaadi or Pakistan — I want to say to them that they are not even one-fourth of the LTTE. The LTTE had such a committed cadre that 12-year-old girls would fight barefoot in the jungles. They got money and weapons from 14 nations. When they could not take over a country, it is not possible here,” Malik said.
Phase II LS Polls: Srinagar PC records 14% turnout
District-wise: Srinagar 7%, Budgam 21%, Ganderbal 16% ;
Boycott, shutdown, clashes witnessed; 70% turnout in Udhampur PC
Srinagar, Apr 18: Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency Thursday sided with poll boycott as merely 14.1% voters exercised their franchise in the constituency where elections were held in tight security.
In the 2014 general election, Srinagar had witnessed a turnout of 25.86 per cent which fell to 7.2 per cent in the 2017 Lok Sabha bypoll.
Udhampur Constituency, on the other hand, witnessed 70.1% turnout during the day.
The polling for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir “remained peaceful and incident-free”, Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar told reporters here.
Kumar said Srinagar district recorded the lowest turnout of 7.69 per cent while Reasi district in Udhampur constituency recorded the highest of 73 per cent among the nine districts where polling was conducted Thursday in the state.
Ganderbal district recorded 16.7 per cent while in Budgam district, the turnout was 21.5 per cent, the CEO said.
According to sources, as many as 90 polling booths, mostly in downtown Srinagar, saw no voting. Srinagar constituency had 1,716 polling stations.
As per reports, at least 25 youth and government forces’ personnel were injured in clashes in several parts of central Kashmir.
A constable of Armed Police Vipon Kumar of 5th battalion was injured after being hit by a stone during clashes at Charar-i-sharief in Budgam, Head Constable Hafizullah was injured at Kakaring Charisharief, Head Constable Ghulam Mohammad of IR 4th, constable Sajad, constable Rahul Malik and three CRPF men were injured in Beerwah Town.
Similar reports of clashes were reported from Machowa, Kralpora, Hafroo, Chadoora in Budgam, Srinagar’s Safakadal, Nowabazar, Gojwara, Hawal, Batamaloo and some parts of Ganderbal including Mammar Kangan and Barsoo.
The government forces deployed in these areas used tear smoke shells, pellets and few aerial shots to disperse the protesting youth during which eighteen persons including a woman were injured.
Among the injured, one youth namely Mohammad Asif Bhat sustained a bullet wound in his thigh at Hafroo Chadoora and was immediately taken to nearby hospital from where he was referred to Bone and Joints Hospital in Srinagar for specialised treatment.
Meanwhile, the internet services were suspended in poll-bound districts of Valley since Tuesday night while as the speed was throttled elsewhere in Kashmir.
MHA suspends cross LoC trade
‘Route illegal inflow of weapons, narcotics currency’
Srinagar, Apr 18: The Government of India Thursday suspended trade along the Line of Control at Salamabad and Chakan-da-bagh in J&K stating that the routes were used for “inflow of weapons, narcotics and currency”.
According to the order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the action was taken after the Ministry “received that cross LoC trade routes in J&K are being misused by Pakistan based elements. The misuse involves illegal inflows of weapons, narcotics, and currency”
It said the cross-LoC trade mechanism is therefore suspended till a stricter regulatory regime is put in place. “This is to ensure that only bonafide trade takes place, for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through this mechanism,” it said.
The trade was part of the confidence-building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan and was started in October 2008.
The Cross LoC routes — Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir valley and Poonch-Rawalakote route in Jammu division — which are being used to ferry goods between J&K and Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). More than 600 traders are registered for the cross LoC trade and 21 items are on the approved export and import list from both the routes.
Mehbooba, Omar flay decision
Former state chief ministers, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, on Thursday criticised the Ministry of Home Affairs’ decision to suspend cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Using Kashmir as a scapegoat to claw its way back to power won’t help BJP. It’s an excuse to worsen ties with Pak despite their peace overtures. By doing this, PM Modi has dismantled a CBM initiated by Vajpayee ji. Won’t be surprised if an attack on Pak is in the offing,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted soon after the MHA ordered the suspension.
Omar Abdullah too reacted: “The Modi Govt buries another of the Vajpayee era CBM. Cross-LoC trade was a legacy of the Vajpayee Govt to facilitate greater people-to-people contact across the Line of Control in J&K”.
‘I voted to get a passport and see my son in Pak’
Srinagar, Apr 18: As the elderly seemed enthused by the idea of electing a representative in Srinagar parliamentary elections, many of them had their own distinctly apolitical (and probably unachievable) expectations from the voting process.
This reporter Thursday visited various polling booths of the uptown areas here. A posse of gun totting CRPF personnel guarded all of them.
In one such booth in government girls’ higher secondary school Rajbagh, a frail woman walked in. A young man held her arm as she slowly walked towards the booth where the voting machine was set up.
Clad in a light pink salwar kameez and a ruffle shawl, the woman was limping her way (probably due to tender ankles or knees) to the actual booth.
She had her own motherly reason to take this painful walk.
Misra Begum, 70, a resident of Ikhrajpora said her primary reason to vote was to get a passport and travel documents to see her son in Pakistan.
“My son crossed the border for arms training twelve years ago but he never came back and is now settled in Pakistan. More than a decade has passed and I am yet to see his face,” she said.
“I am dying to meet him. At least once before I close these eyes forever, I want to see my son again. My only purpose of casting a vote is to get me a passport and the travel documents,” Misra said.
Misra’s eyes twinkled as she stared at this reporter. It seemed she even expected this reporter could do something to end her wait and help her meet her son.
Like Misra, 70-year-old Abdul Majeed Shah too voted to bring his sons back.
“I am casting a vote to bring my sons home,” said Majeed, heaving a sigh as he sat on his haunches in the lawn of Chanapora higher secondary school.
“Both of my sons have finished their degrees and were jobless and in great distress. With no option left, they left Kashmir and are now working in other states,” he said.
“My wife suffers from paralysis and I also suffer from multiple ailments. We want our sons to be around us in this age but what to do? We are helpless. I am hopeful that a new CM and party will bring happiness in our lives,” Majeed said, apparently not knowing the difference between Parliamentary and Assembly elections.
Shameema Begum, 60, who seemed to have respiratory problems as she talked, had a more text-bookish answer when asked why she voted.
“Why should I waste my fundamental right to vote? We need good roads, and uninterrupted electricity supply. There are so many problems that can only be addressed by good leadership,” she said in a panting voice.
Shameema, however, gave a puzzled look when asked about the threats hovering on Article 35-A and Kashmir’s special status.
“I don’t know what that is. I only believe we can get our basic facilities when we cast a vote,” she said.
At the polling booth in Burn Hall school of Sonwar Constituency, Ghulam Nabi, 56, sat on the wooden bench while talking animatedly with a local police man.
“For the last four and half years, PDP-BJP has done absolutely nothing for the state. Look at the condition of the roads and how the youth of the valley are suffering in absence of any employment,” said Ghulam, who is associated with Tourism sector.
“Dr Farooq Abdullah is the only leader who can truly represent the aspirations of the people and resolve the Kashmir issue,” he said revealing that he, like many, was a staunch NC supporter.
Another man in his early seventies overheard the conversation and was desperate to chip in. He spoke in a hoarse voice, “Ghulam Nabi Sahab is absolutely right. Only NC can bring the people of Kashmir out of misery.”
“I have come here at the break of the dawn when everyone was asleep. I have always voted for NC and will continue to do so. The love for the party runs in my blood,” the man said.