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Kathua murder has shocked women in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Jan 24: The murder of 8-year-old Asifa from Hiranagar tehsil in Kathua has raised question about the safety of girls in the state.
The minor, belonging to the Bakerwal or Gujjar community, was abducted on January 10, and after eight days on January 17, her body was left in bushes over a kilometre from her home close to a police station.
The Kashmir Monitor spoke with a cross section of the women, all of whom seemed concerned about the safety of girls’ in the state.
Essar Batool, a social activist, said, “We cannot say it is increasing, but it is becoming a serious concern now. Women in Jammu and Kashmir need to come to the front to fight sexual violence, especially girl child abuse.”
She said Kathua incident could be a conspiracy or the culprit may be from another community.
“That is why police is protecting his identity,” she said.
She said there should be a proper investigation into the incident and the culprit should be punished.
“It is very sad to see how the state government is handling the incident. Why did they need to arrest the lawyer who was fighting for the minor’s justice?” she asked, adding that it probably points towards larger problems that are better known to the government.
Parveena Ahangar, Founder and Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), said the parents of the minor need to be heard.
“This matter needs to be investigated without any bias. We cannot afford to tolerate the brutal killings of our minors. This has to be stopped,” she said.
Dr Gazalla Noor Amin, Secretary General, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries, said there should be a change in the mindset of people across the state.
“A lot of women issues are related to cultural differences. It is not only about the women, it is about the attitude of the society towards the marginalised people. Lower castes and other religious minorities are being targeted everywhere and are unsafe,” she said.
She said there are so many incidents of minors getting raped within the family.
“It is the responsibility of the parents to encourage their girl children to speak up against sexual abuse,” she said.
A women journalist, Insha Latief, said that it was shocking to see minors on the list of sexual violence victims.
She said it was equally sad to see nobody in Kashmir protesting against the incident.
“It is a very shameful act and needs to be condemned. Such cases need proper investigative reportage. I don’t understand why media here is silent over it,” she said.
However, Taufiq Rashid, a senior journalist, said, “Jammu and Kashmir is safe for women. There are less sexual violence cases in the state compared to other states of the country.  The recent incident was very unfortunate and needs to be investigated.”
Tauseef Rasheed, a working woman, said the Kathua incident gave her goose bumps.
“Tomorrow, I will have my own kids and I am worried about their safety. Jammu and Kashmir has become unsafe for the women. It hurts,” she said.
Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, Chairperson Jammu and Kashmir State Commission, said, “We were the first to reach the minor’s home in Kathua. We have taken up the matter with the authorities. We will not let any stone unturned unless the justice is prevailed.”


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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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