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LS, Assembly elections: ‘Mehbooba’s south Kashmir visits part of poll campaign, gaining lost ground’

Other parties to begin rallying next week; PM to visit Jammu on Jan 15

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 4: With parliamentary and assembly elections round the corner, the political parties in J&K are set to initiate the election campaigning from the next week.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, however, it seems, has already begun campaigning for her party by visiting the families of some militants in south Kashmir in an attempt to gain the lost political ground.

Last Sunday, Mehbooba visited Pulwama’s Patipora village, where a militant’s family was allegedly tortured by government forces.

 

Unlike her days in power, Mehbooba highlighted the harassment the family had gone through on her official Twitter handle.

She even urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to “initiate action and prevent such incidents in future”.

“Won’t allow bloodshed in Kashmir or turning southern Kashmir into a battleground,” she said.

On Thursday, Mehbooba again visited a slain militant’s family in Shopian, whose other son is in detention.

“I am hopeful that police does not want to harass anyone but it seems from somewhere it is being directed,” she said after visiting the family in Safanagri area of the district.

“In my tenure I had directed forces not to harass brothers or sisters of militants. I hope that governor gives such directions to forces too,” she said.

Interestingly, Mehbooba’s political career begun by visiting families of the militants and victims, making south Kashmir PDP’s stronghold – allowing it to win and ally with BJP in 2014, only to break-off but not before a summer of uprising unsettled the entire Kashmir.

PDP chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, refused to confirm whether or not Mehbooba’s visits were a part of the election campaign.

He, however, said the party would officially start the campaigning from January 7.

“We will observe the death anniversary of Mufti Mohammad Saeed on January 7, after which the election campaigning will start. We have recently discussed how to go about it,” Mir said.

He said that campaigning would also depend on the security scenario in the region.

Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that the top PDP leadership, in a key meeting headed by Abdul Rehman Veeri last week, have decided that the ongoing human rights’ situation in south Kashmir will be the basis of the party’s campaign program for the upcoming polls.

As of other political parties, they too have framed their strategies and are set to begin the election campaigning from the next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Jammu on January 15, where he is scheduled to address a gathering.

“We have already started election campaigning in Jammu. From the next week, the election campaigning will be at a larger scale,” a BJP leader said.

“In Kashmir, our leaders will mostly restrict to door-to-door campaigning especially in south Kashmir,” he added.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar said his party has begun the political activities for the polls.

“We are waiting for the Election Commission of India to confirm whether or not both the polls will be held together,” he said.

Senior Congress leader G N Monga said that they will start election campaigning from Jammu after January 15.

“We have already begun the political activities,” Monga said.

The Election Commission of India is likely to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which may be conducted in April.

The district election officers have submitted a proposal of appointment of returning and assistant returning officers to the poll body for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

A police official said that political parties have been advised to hold the rallies at the designated places only.

“The political rallies will be allowed at secured places. We have to make adequate security arrangement before any election rally is held,” the official said.

The state assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21 citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and the “fragile security scenario in the state”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term. Malik dissolved the assembly shortly after People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and the Congress.

 

‘Operation all out’ architect using militant families to get votes: Omar

Srinagar, Jan 3: National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the PDP president saying she was trying to “rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation”.
“The architect of ‘Operation All-out’ & the overseer of the operations that killed hundreds of militants since 2015 is now going from one militant home to the next trying to rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?” the former CM added.
BJP, the former ally of PDP, was quick to dismiss Mehbooba’s visits as a “political gimmick” and sought to remind her of the remarks she made as chief minister during a press conference at the peak of 2016 agitation following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and his two associates.
“It was Mehbooba who earlier made a statement like were they (youth who were killed in 2016 agitation) out to buy toffee or milk. Her visits now to the families of slain militants is a political gimmick,” BJP leader Ashok Koul said.
Several social media users have also dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief’s outreach campaign as political opportunism with an eye on coming elections.
A Facebook user posted the video clips of Mehbooba’s press conference in 2016 as well as the latest comments on harassment of militant families with the title “a very good example of a chameleon”.


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Metropolitan Project: Over 94 lakh kanals identified in JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jul 18: Over 94 lakh kanals of land has been identified across Jammu and Kashmir for developing the state under the ambitious Metropolitan Region Development Authorities (MRDA) project.

Under the project, two Metropolitan Region Development Authorities will reduce the deficit on infrastructure – water supply, roads, sewage, drainage, light rails, e-buses and other amenities.

“The authorities will also develop satellite townships in Greater Jammu and Greater Srinagar. Million square feet IT parks will also be developed in these townships,” the document reads.

 

Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration recently announced creation of Jammu Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authority — to provide an integrative framework for the purpose of planned development of these regions.

As per the details, the government has identified 94,22,465 kanals of land in 2559 villages of 14 districts in the state.

In Kashmir, 1452 villages comprising of 4989304 kanals of land would be covered under MRDA.

In Srinagar district, 124 villages comprising 514116 kanals of land would be covered. In Pulwama, 922715 kanals of land in 240 villages have been identified for implementation of project under MRDA.

Similarly, 331799, 1049195, 451400, 142461 kanals of land would be covered in Kulgam, Baramulla, Shopian, and Bandipora districts respectively.

Around 44,33,161 kanals of land would be covered in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur under MRDA.

The MRDAs, as per the document, have been selected on the principles of regional planning and development.

An official of Housing and Urban Development Department said a process has begun for acquisition of land for the project.

“All types of land are being covered under MRDAs. Besides government land, we have also identified private land which ought to be acquired. But some land owners are not willing to provide land saying that government is not paying them commensurate to market value,” the official said.

He said the land owners want promulgation of an ordinance to replace old law “which will enable them fair compensation during acquisition”.

Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Dheeraj Gupta said that all types of land were being covered under MRDAs. “We will acquire private land wherever needed,” Gupta added.

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India to Pak: Release, repatriate Jadhav immediately

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jul 18: Describing the detention of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan as “illegal” and under “fabricated” charges, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Thursday urged Islamabad to release and repatriate him immediately.

Making a statement in Rajya Sabha, he said the verdict of the International Court of Justice is not only a vindication for Jadhav but also for all those who believe in the rule of law.

The International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence for Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism”.

 

Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017.

A bench led by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”.

The bench also ruled by 15 votes to 1 that Pakistan had violated India’s rights to consular visits after Jadhav’s arrest.

Pakistan “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”, the judges had said.

Pakistan was under the obligation to inform India about the arrest and detention of Jadhav under the Vienna Convention, Judge Yusuf had ruled.

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Jadhav guilty of crimes against people: Imran

Agencies

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Islamabad, Jul 18: Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan Thursday said that he appreciated the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision to “not to acquit, release & return” Kulbhushan Jadhav, day after the world court in The Hague directed Pakistan to review the death penalty given to the former Indian Navy commander.

Holding Jadhav responsible for “crime against” Pakistani people, Khan said Pakistan will proceed per law.

“Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release & return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Imran tweeted.

 

On Wednesday, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to make an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and death sentence of Jadhav.

The world court also rejected all objections raised by Pakistan, granting consular access to Jadhav “without further delay”, in a verdict that was hailed in India as a “big victory” for the country. It agreed with India’s stand that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention by denying access.

In a reprieve for Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017, a 16-member bench by a 15:1 vote continued the stay on the execution.

A Chinese judge was part of the majority verdict while the ad hoc judge from Pakistan on the bench headed by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia gave a dissenting opinion.

Rejecting Pakistan’s objection to admissibility of the Indian application in the case, the court in its 42-page order held that “a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review” of the sentence of Jadhav that had strained relations between the two neighbouring countries.

The bench, however, rejected some remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court’s decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the verdict, saying “truth and justice” have prevailed while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj described it as a “big victory” for India.

Despite the order backing India, Pakistan claimed victory. The country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted: “Jadhav shall remain in Pakistan. He shall be treated in accordance with the laws of Pakistan.” Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan on 3 March, 2016, by Pakistani security agencies and was convicted of being a spy. In April 2017, Pakistan had announced that Jadhav was given death sentence by a military court.

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