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India’s secular character at stake: Farooq Abdullah

‘Designs to take over JK Bank was in pipeline’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 05: National Conference President, Farooq Abdullah, on Wednesday said the “secular character” of India is at stake due to polarization in the name of religion.

“India is going through a major change. We are worried the way tragedies are created. It is not Ram and Allah that will give votes to politicians. It is people to decide whom to give the vote. People have to rise and decide their future,” Farooq said in his address on the 36th annual day of the SK Institute of Medical Sciences held at SKICC here.

The former JK chief minister asked the Election Commission of India to ensure that religion was not used in elections.

 

“It is very unfortunate what I am seeing on the land today which was supposed to be secular. I hope secular character of this nation is maintained otherwise greater dangers will arrive,” he said.

He took on the BJP government at the centre saying it forgot to fulfill the promises it has made before the elections. “Seeking votes in the name of religion is not fighting for people. There are so many issues like lack of development, unemployment, on which elections must be fought,” he said, who is also Member Parliament of central Kashmir.

The National Conference leader also called for early assembly elections in the state.“Democracy is essential and Governor rule is for a short term. I am sure peaceful elections are held and peaceful people who will serve the nation get elected. I hope elected people will address on this day the next year.

The assembly and parliamentary polls shall be held together in the state,” he said.

He said there was a change in the statements of India and Pakistan leaders. “Imran Khan said that had Vajpayee been elected in 2004 then solution to Kashmir problem might have emerged. There has to be a solution so that we walk freely,” he said.

He also said that killing of a police officer was a greater tragedy. “Everything is planned. Nation must remember that these forces who are trying to do this they should be controlled and abolished from this nation,” he added.

‘Designs to take over JK Bank was in pipeline’

Srinagar, Dec 05: Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said that the design to take over the J&K Bank was in the pipeline since his tenure as Chief Minister in the State.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the function here at SKICC, Dr Farooq who is also Member of Parliament said that the designs to take over the JK Bank was in the pipeline since his tenure as the chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir but there was they thought that they could succeed in Governor’s rule.
“I remember when I was the Chief Minister and the Bank was working well, I was in the office of Home Minister L K Advani along with Deputy Chairman planning commission K C Panth and they were saying that the bank is going down and it should be taken over,” Dr Farooq said, adding that “Luckily, Business Standard, a daily from newspaper from Mumbai had published a complete report on JK bank and showed how good it was.
“I sent those reports to them and I am glad that Panth spoke to me on the phone and said his information was wrong,” Dr Farooq added.
He added that once Governor’s rule is over, the popular government will have to look into this to the autonomy of the JK Bank.


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JK’s liability swells

Mudassir Kuloo

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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.

 

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Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq

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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.

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Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists

Bisma Bhat

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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.

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