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Kashmir was in ‘mess’ before Aug 5: EAM

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Sep 26: Kashmir was in a “mess” before August 5, when India revoked Article 350 that granted special provisions to Jammu and Kashmir, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

The foreign minister has asserting that the decision was taken to “try something very different” to change the economic and social landscape in the region.

During an interactive session at US think-tank Council on Foreign Relations on September 25, the minister said when the Modi government was voted back to power in May, it did a Kashmir review and realised that there were two choices before it.

 

“One was you had a set of policies, which were on the books for 70 years, but for the last 40 years they were visibly not working,” he said, adding that the other was to abrogate Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Please remember that pre-August 5, Kashmir was in a mess. I mean, the difficulties in Kashmir have not started on August 5. August 5 is supposed to be a way of dealing with those difficulties. So the choices were either you continue what was clearly not working, or you tried something very different. And the decision was to try something very different,” he said.

“Now we realise (that) it is not an easy exercise, because there are deep vested interests which will resist. And so when we did this transition, our first concern was that there would be violence, that there would be demonstrations and militants would use those demonstrations,” he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated Article 370. The action evoked strong reactions from Islamabad, which downgraded ties and expelled the Indian ambassador. Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue, but India has asserted that it was the country’s “internal matter”.

Jaishankar said the government’s expectation is that by doing away with what was a temporary condition, “what was meant as a bridge but became a barrier”, it will be able to push investments, economic activities into Kashmir that will help to change the economic and social landscape in the region.

The minister said the restrictions, including snapping of communication modes, put in place in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 were intended to prevent loss of life and as the situation stabilises, “a lot of those restrictions would be rolled back”.

Already landlines are reconnected, mobile towers have started to be switched on, schools are open and economic activity has picked up, he said.

Referring to the killing of militant Burhan Wani in 2016 that had led to spike in violence in the Valley, Jaishankar said, “The intention (of putting restrictions) was to manage this transition situation without loss of life.”

After the Hizbul Mujahideen militant was killed in 2016 by the security forces, unrest followed for about five months in and around Kashmir Valley. Several people were killed and many teenagers received grievous pellet and bullet injuries sparking outrage. Police force also reported casualties and faced threats from militants.

“For us, the primary concern would be to prevent loss of life. And if I were to put the temporary suspension of internet on one side of the scale, and permanent loss of life on the other, I know which side I would go,” Jaishankar said.

The economic and social consequences of Article 370 led to a political consequence as “a narrow elite” arbitrage the constitutional provision to “monopolise political power to create a sort of a close-loop politics, and they had a vested interest in keeping alive separatist sentiment”, he said.

“So you had actually a situation where separatist political parties were openly allied with militant groups operating out of Pakistan,” Jaishankar added. The level of intimidation had reached a height where senior police officers were lynched on the streets of Srinagar, journalists who wrote against separatism were assassinated and military personnel were kidnapped and killed, he said.


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Kashmir

Anyone who harms ongoing peace process in J&K will be jailed: Ram Madhav

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar, Oct 20: With the abrogation of article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is treading on the path of peace and development and anyone who tries to create hurdles in the way will be dealt with sternly, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said here on Sunday.

“Till now everything used to be done for a few families or a few leaders in Kashmir, but now whatever is happening, is happening for lakhs of families of this state… for the common Kashmiri,” Madhav said.

“There will now be only two paths for J&K– peace and development and whosoever comes in between will be dealt with sternly. There are many jails in India for those,” he added.

 

The BJP leader was addressing a convention of the party”s youth wing at Tagore Hall here which was the first political event in Kashmir after the abrogation of article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union territories.

Asking politicians not to treat the people of Jammu and Kashmir as fodder for their politics, Madhav who visited the valley for the first time since the abrogation of article 370 said if 200-300 people are to be kept inside jails to achieve the path to peace and development, “then we will keep them”.

“You can do your politics without disturbing the peace. Some leaders are sending messages while sitting inside jails that people will take to gun and sacrifice themselves. I want to tell those leaders to come forward first and sacrifice themselves,” he said.

“Politicians here were making common people a fodder for their politics and the general public was being used. But, we will not allow such politics now. We want politics of development and corruptions will be eradicated fully from here,” he added.

Wanting to assure the people of Kashmir on the apprehensions about losing jobs or land, the BJP national general secretary said no step would be taken against the interests of the people.

“Some people are talking nonsense about job losses and losing land with the abrogation of article 370. No step will be taken against your interests. Each job in the state will be provided to the youth of the state.”

“I will not hesitate by telling you that the Centre is ready and new jobs and opportunities will be created here. All precautions will be taken so that the there is no harm on the identity, culture, jobs and education of J&K,” he said.

The abrogation of article 370 is a new opportunity and a new dawn for Jammu and Kashmir, Madhav said as he asked the people not be afraid of anyone and go about their business.

“Your hands and feet were fettered for the last 70 years and now we have freed you…. Do not be afraid of anyone and go on with your business,” he said.

“What are you afraid of when everyone is afraid of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. They are paper tigers and I know how much courage they have. They shiver when they get a phone call,” Added Madhav without naming anyone.

Taking a dig at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the BJP leader said he does not know how to handle his country but talks of Kashmir every now and then.

“Imran Khan rakes up Kashmir once or twice a day. He does not know how to handle his country and was merely saved from FATF sanctions. Our security forces are alert and prepared to handle whatever attempts he makes whether cross-border firing or militancy,” he said.

The BJP national general secretary said the people of the country were ready to embrace Kashmiris and they should maintain peace.

“Wherever I go, I say that whatever had to be done for Kashmir has been done by Modi and now the people of whole India have to embrace Kashmiris. When we in BJP used to say that Kashmir is ours, it did not mean that the land of Kashmir is ours but that every Kashmiri is ours. The whole India is ready to assure you of that.”

“When there is peace, tourism will increase here. I say this to people everywhere that if you have to go on a holiday, then visit Kashmir. The whole country is ready to embrace Kashmir and the people of J-K only need to decide to welcome them and maintain peace here,” he said.

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Kashmir

I love Kashmir and its love for football: David Robertson

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar: For those who label Kashmir as “dangerous place”, this should serve as an eye-opener. 

Famed Scottish footballer and Real Kashmir FC coach David Robertson on Thursday said Kashmir is one of the safest places in world.

“I have been here for three years now and I enjoyed being with the people of Kashmir. People are great here.I love Kashmiris and their love for football,” he said.

 

Robertson said it was the secure atmosphere of the valley that prompted him to convince foreign players to play for Real Kashmir FC.

“I brought my family including my son, wife and daughter here. Even we have two coaches Jimmy and Jonathan now. If I feared for my safety then I wouldn’t havebrought them here. I lived here during strikes, internet shutdown. But I never feared for the safety of my life. This is lovely and great place,” he said.

Robertson poured his heart out at a time when Real Kashmir FC popularly known as snow leopards is bracing up for second season in prestigious I- League.  The team, which has added new players to the squad, is practising hard in Srinagar to take up new challenges in the coming season.

Robertson said experienced players have signed-up for the squad this season.“Now there is more depth in our squad.  Last season we had a good defensive side but we could score goals. We created chances but couldn’t utilise them effectively. Now we got some very experienced players including Kellam from England, Chesterpaul and Subhash Singh,” he said

Real Kashmir FC coach said the upcoming season will be equally challenging since all the teams have signed experienced players.

Asked about the atmosphere in the camp, Robertson said his team was fully prepared to take up the challenge.

“The players were fascinated during Kolkata, Mumbai, Jamshedpur and Goa tours. It is important that our players are robust. That is what makes us a strong team,” he said.

Ahead of I –league, the Snow Leopards displayed spectacular performances against Indian Super League teams in outside state tours.

Real Kashmir FC defeated Kerala blasters, held draw with Jamshedpur FC, Goa FC and Mumbai City FC.

This season, the team signed up ace English striker Kallum Michael Higgeinbotham, former Pune city winger ChesterpaulLyngdoh and former ShillongLajjong FC goalkeeper PhurbaTempalachenpa and others. 

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Road Accident Victim Fund created for accident cases

Monitor News Bureau

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SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 17: Advisors to Governor, K Skandan and K Vijay Kumar, co-chaired the 6th State Road Safety Council meeting here today.

The meeting was attended by Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Principal Secretary Transport Department, Transport Commissioner, Secretary Higher Education, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Inspector General Police of Traffic, J&K, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Director School Education Kashmir, Commissioner SMC, and representatives of Finance, Planning, Home, Housing and Urban Development Departments.

The meeting was also attended by all Deputy Commissioners besides other concerned officials via video conference.

 

The meeting was informed that Road Accident Victim Fund has been created for passengers and private vehicles with ex-gratia ranging from Rs 10000 to Rs 100000. It was also informed that the State Government approved an incentive of Rs 5 lakh per vehicle to replace 500 old buses of 15 years-of-age and above with new buses, besides 40 electric-buses in twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu and 36 new buses for Chenab Valley were procured by JKSRTC.

Principal Secretary Transport, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon presented a detailed overview of functioning of the Transport Department besides initiatives taken for the modernization of transport sector to cater to the changing needs. To arrest the trend of the frequent accidents, he said, that with the funding of the Central Government, work on various Inspection Certification Centres (ICC) is in progress.

It was given out that ICC and Institute of Driving and Training Research is coming up at Samba at a cost of Rs 14.40 crore and 17 crore respectively. Similarly, 50 kanals of land have been identified at Harwan in Srinagar for establishing ICC besides an IDTR would be established in Budgam at a cost of Rs 17.42 crore.

While reviewing road accidents data management system, the Advisors stressed on using the data for reducing accidents due to increasing policing and improving road construction management for reducing black spots.

The Principal Secretary informed the meeting that Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) provided funds for procurement of 136 ambulances. He told the meeting that 80 ambulances deployed are being used for Basic Life Support (BLS) both at Jammu and Kashmir division while 50 ambulances have kept for retrofitting and are being used for Advance Life Support (ALS) primarily designed to transport patients of critical care, trauma and accident victims.

It was also given out that 102/108 helpline service would be started very soon with 300 ordinary ambulances at disposal out of which 100 can be made critical care ambulances.

Regarding the establishing of Trauma centres, the Advisors were informed that Health and Medical Education Department has established 10 trauma centres out of which seven are functional while the rest would be made operational soon.

On Intelligent Transport System (ITS), the Advisors directed SMC and JMC to complete the process at the earliest. In Srinagar, out of 33 junctions, 20 junctions are working, while work on remaining junctions is in progress, the meeting was told.

On the occasion, Advisor Skandan directed the Deputy Commissioners to complete the district action plan within one month and asked for identification of accident prone areas in their district jurisdictions to reduce accidents.

Director School Education Kashmir informed the meeting that 855 Road Safety Clubs in higher secondary schools have been created with 280 in Kashmir division and 575 in Jammu division.

The Advisors directed the concerned officials to implement Ribbon Development Act at the earliest.

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