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Interlocutor arriving in Kashmir

Monitor News Bureau

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Centre’s special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma, who is arriving to Kashmir on Monday (today) says he does not have a magic wand, but wants to be judged by his actions when he starts the process of talks in the Valley tomorrow.
“I do not have a magic wand but my efforts have to be judged with sincerity and not through the prism of the past,” Sharma, 61, said.
The former Intelligence Bureau director added that no one should jump to conclusions before the process of talks with various stakeholders in Kashmir began.
“I would like to be judged by my actions,” he told PTI from Delhi.
Describing his work as a “serious effort”, he added that “one should refrain from fishing in the desert”.
“I am going there tomorrow to be with my people and understand their pain and suffering and find a suitable remedy to their problems,” Sharma said.
Responding to criticisms which have appeared in sections of the media, he said in due course he would also meet intellectuals for their advice in achieving “this difficult national task”.
Sharma, who is originally from Bihar and was a Kerala- cadre IPS officer of the 1979 batch, held the country’s top- most post for a police officer from 2014 to 2016.
He said Kashmir was his “second home” as his professional journey in the premier intelligence unit began here in 1992.
“Nothing has changed since I was there for the first time. Kashmiriyat, which means compassion and brotherhood, has not changed even an iota. Therefore, I am hopeful that I will be at least able to contribute towards a new Kashmir, a peaceful Valley where prosperity will be the order of the day,” he said.
Last month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while announcing that Sharma would be the interlocutor for Kashmir, had referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort this year.
PM Modi had said on August 15, “Na gaali se, na goli se, parivartan hoga gale lagaane se (Only by embracing the people, and not with abuses or bullets, can there be a change in Kashmir).”
Asked about the course of action he would follow, Sharma said, “I do not have a magic wand to change the situation overnight. But having said that, I will like to emphasise during my proposed meetings beginning tomorrow, my every effort will be to work towards ensuring permanent peace in the state.”
The special representative will meet political leaders, traders and other delegations tomorrow, according to a list drawn up by the state government.
However, he made it clear he had his own list of people whom he would meet as well.
To a question about a statement made by the Joint Resistance Front comprising separatist groups including moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat and JKLF that they would not meet him, Sharma said the government’s effort should not be seen through the “prism of the past”.
“It is purely their choice whether they want to be a partner in peace or on the opposite side of the fence where destruction has been topping the agenda. My suggestion to everyone is that they should not see this effort of the government through the prism of the past.” he said.
Efforts had previously been made by successive central governments too, he said.
“I have no idea what happened to them and, therefore, I would not like to comment. I can only talk about this initiative which has been done with a serious thought process and months of hard work by many,” he said.


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Militancy related incidents in Kashmir have seen a downturn: Army Chief

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Feb 20: Army Chief General MM Naravane on Thursday said that militancy- related incidents have seen a downturn and the Army is maintaining pressure on “terror groups”.

“There is an external dimension to the decrease in cross-border terrorism,”he said.

When asked on the health condition of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the army chief only said security forces are geared up to take care of any situation.

 

On the proposed creation of a theatre command exclusively for J&K, he said there will be detailed discussions before anything is finalised.

“Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender. The outlook of the Indian Army has been throughout like this and that is why we started inducting women officers as early as in 1993,” Gen Naravane told reporters.

Indian Army has taken the initiative to induct women in rank and file, and the first batch of 100 women soldiers is undergoing training at Corps of Military Police Centre and School, he said.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome one as it brings out a sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency of the organisation. I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army including women officers will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation as also progress in their careers,” he said hailing the verdict as enabling.

Letters are being sent to women officers asking whether they will prefer permanent commissioning, the Army chief said.

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Global investors’ summit: LG led delegation to meet India Inc leaders in Mumbai today

Press Trust of India

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Mumbai, Feb 20: Top officials from the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory administration will visit the country”s financial capital and meet industry leaders on Friday, more than six months after the virtual abrogation of Article 370.

Led by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, the officials will be pitching about the business possibilities in the restive Kashmir Valley to leaders of India Inc, officials said on Thursday.

A global investors” summit is being planned at capital Srinagar in May, and the event in a city hotel is organised by industry lobby CII, which is also a national partner for the summit, they said.

 

The union government”s bold moves on the vexed Kashmir issue in August have been met with mixed response, with many going public with the prolonged shutdown of telecom connectivity in the valley and the continuing detentions of political leaders, while others have welcomed the move.

At the time of the announcement, the Centre had assured that carving out union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will fasten economic development of the region through focused attention.

There were also reports of mega projects like a massive solar project in the mountaineous Ladakh region being launched.

The summit in May will be a showcase of investment opportunities across sectors, officials said.

Other officials and bureaucrats, including Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, the secretary for industries and commerce; Anoo Malhotra, the director of industries and commerce; and Rohit Kansal, the principal secretary of planning development and monitoring, among others, are expected to be present on Friday.

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Second batch of Union ministers to visit JK in April

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Feb 20: The second batch of about 40 Union ministers is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir in April to get first-hand information about various development schemes initiated thereby both the central government and the Union Territory administration, officials said on Thursday.

The Prime Minister”s Office (PMO) will decide the composition of the ministerial delegation that will undertake the follow up of the first visit of 37 Union ministers, who had toured Jammu and Kashmir last month.

“A second batch of about 40 Union ministers may undertake a visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Dates and composition of the team have not been fixed yet but it will be done soon after the Budget session of Parliament,” a government official said.

 

After the recess, the second part of the budget session will begin on March 2 and it will end on April 3.

The PMO will finalise the list of the ministers and each minister will be assigned a particular district and focus will be on the Kashmir Valley, the official said.

Some of the ministers of the first batch may also be part of the second batch, he said.

The ministers will assess the development initiatives undertaken by the central government as well as the UT administration on the ground and they will not talk about political issues, the official said.

By interacting with the locals, they will try to get first-hand information about the roads, healthcare facilities, power situation, functioning of academic institutions etc. in the UT, he added.

As many as 37 central ministers had visited Jammu and Kashmir last month following a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted an honest assessment of the various welfare schemes being implemented there.

Among those who had visited Jammu and Kashmir were Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, ministers of state for home G Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai.

The Union ministers have already submitted their feedback to the PMO on the implementation of various development schemes there.

There were two sets of feedback — one on the initiatives taken by the UT administration and the other on the Centre”s initiatives — another official said.

Most of the central ministers stayed overnight at their respective places of visit such as Baramulla, Ganderbal, Doda, besides others.

In August last year, the Centre abrogated Article 370 provisions of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Since then, the Centre has been closely monitoring the on the ground implementation of various development programmes there.

Jammu and Kashmir is currently under the President”s rule.

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