New Delhi, May 02: The Government of India has agreed in principle to accord National Highway status to Mughal Road connecting Jammu and Kashmir provinces through Pir Panchal region. The Centre has also decided to put the construction of Vailoo-Singhpora and Chenani-Sudhmahadev tunnels on the fast track mode to expedite the start of work.
These decisions were taken in a marathon meeting of officers held in New Delhi on Wednesday with Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti jointly in chair.
Minister for Public Works & Culture, Naeem Akhtar was also present in the meeting.
The meeting was informed that the process for formulation of project reports for these projects has already been started and the consultancy report has been received by the Union Government and with the melting of snow on these roads further action would be initiated.
Terming connectivity critical in bridging the mental divide between the people of Kashmir and rest of the country, the Chief Minister stressed on taking these tunnel projects in mission mode as a national priority.
The Chief Minister also raised the fast tracking of Baramulla-Gulmarg-Loran road which was founded in 2015. The road would provide alternatate connectivity to Gulmarg via Poonch thus ensuring more inter regional connectivity and giving the tourist inflow a push as well.
The Union Minister directed the concerned agencies to use latest technologies and soil stabilising methods to get ahead on the construction so that the project is completed at the earliest.
Mehbooba Mufti also took up the issue of 80 kilometre long Doda-Dessa-Kapran road connecting Doda district with Anantnag. The Union Minister directed completion of all formalities on the project including forest clearances for its quick consideration.
The Chief Minister also raised the issue of widening of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and the bottlenecks coming in the way on the Ramban-Banihal stretch. She stressed on attaching national importance to the project as it is the only Highway connecting Kashmir Valley with rest of the country.
The Union Minister assured the Chief Minister that he would himself review the status of all these connectivity projects soon with all the concerned agencies. He also directed constitution of an expert team which would visit the Jawahar tunnel and inspect the repairs to be done as suggested by the Chief Minister.
In a significant decision involving local youth, Mr. Gadkari on the persistent demand of Mehbooba Mufti, directed training of 3000-4000 local youth in tunneling, highway construction, earth cutting and stabilisation works etc. by concerned project executing agencies so that subsequently they are engaged in similar projects.
On the suggestion of the Chief Minister, the Union Minister also directed the project executing agencies to associate local youth in the material supplies and other ancilliary works so that the socio economic development of the catchment areas is also taken care of.
It may be recalled here that projects worth Rs. 60, 000 crore in infrastructure including highways, tunnels and roads are under execution in the State currently.
The Chief Minister also sought construction of grade separators and flyovers on the National Highway where it touches major towns like Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Awantipore, Bijbehara and Srinagar to check the frequent traffic jams besides construction of a Bye Pass at Anantnag on the Donipawa-Ashajipora road stretch.
The meeting was also informed of complete and satisfactory utilisation of Rs 332 crore under Central Road Fund by the State Government.
The meeting was also informed that the inception report of the water transport in the Jhelum river has been completed and the Detailed Project Report in this regard would come in next month. The Chief Minister, it may be mentioned here, had sought revival of water transport across the Jhelum river to provide an alternate transportantion mode and enhance the tourist attraction of the place.
Secretary, MoRTH, Udhveer Singh; Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, V P Singh; Principal Resident Commissioner, R K Gupta; Commissioner, Indus Commission, P K Saxena; Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Rohit Kansal; Secretary, PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Sanjeev Verma and other senior officers from J&K Government and Central Government were present on the occasion.
Mirwaiz replies to second NIA summon: Can’t travel to Delhi due to hostile environment
Srinagar, Mar 18: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has replied to another notice issued by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in which he was asked to present himself before the probe agency in Delhi on March 18.
“Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has sent a reply to the NIA summon dated 14th March received on 15th March 2019 to come to New Delhi on 18th of March through his counsel,” said a Hurriyat (M) spokesman.
He said the Mirwaiz has reiterated that he was willing to cooperate in the matter. “… but has asked for the venue for examination to be shifted from Delhi to Srinagar as the concerns and apprehensions regarding travel to Delhi, expressed by him through his counsel in the earlier response dated 10.3.2019 continue to remain so.”
The counsel further mentioned in the reply that his client has informed him that on several occasions earlier many persons have been examined by the agency at Humhama Budgam while conducting the investigation.
“He sees no reason why his client cannot be examined in similar manner,” said the counsel in his reply.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in his Friday sermon had said that New Delhi cannot intimidate Kashmiri by issuing summons. Mirwaiz was referring to the summon of the NIA which was issued to him asking him to present himself before the agency in New Delhi.
The chief cleric of Kashmir also added that Kashmiri will continue to seek peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute.
“Is seeking peaceful resolution of Kashmir terrorism,” Mirwaiz asked.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had been summoned by the National Investigation Agency recently. However, Mirwaiz added that he won’t go to New Delhi but give a written reply to the NIA .
In his written reply according to his legal counsel ‘it was unwise for his client to travel to Delhi under the prevailing conditions of hostility wherein there is a threat to the personal safety of my client.’
Earlier, Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani said that if NIA wants to question anyone, they can do it in the valley itself.
Enough evidence against Mirwaiz, others: NIA
New Delhi, Mar 18: National Investigation Agency (NIA) claims it has enough evident to book top separatist leaders, including Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in its ongoing probe in the 2017 funding case.
The NIA investigators, as per a report by IANS, have scrutinized letterheads of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hizbul Mujahideen and other militant organisations, it claims, were recovered in a raid the agency conducted at seven locations in Srinagar last month.
An NIA officer, privy to the investigation, told that Farooq, the Chairman Awami Action Committee, and more than six top separatist leaders “may soon face the heat” in the “terror” funding case the agency registered in May 2017.
The officer, however, did not clarify whether an FIR will be registered against these separatist leaders or they will be arrested. He only confirmed that “something big would happen soon before June”.
Asked about the names of those separatist leaders, the officer, on condition of anonymity, said Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, and Naseem Geelani, son of Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani, are on the NIA list. The agency on March 9 issued summons to them to appear before its headquarters here for questioning.
Geelani has been questioned on more than three occasions in the case.
Other separatist leaders on NIA radar are Mohammad Ashraf Khan, Chairman Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Masarat Alam, General Secretary, All Party Hurriyat Conference, and Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement.
“Scrutiny of a high-tech internet communication setup and documents relating to recommendations for visa for admission in a few Pakistan educational institutions are other evidence which are crucial in linking relations of Farooq and other suspected separatist leaders to Pakistan-based outfits,” IANS quoted the official saying.
According to the official, some property papers, financial transactions receipts, bank account details and electronic devices including laptops, e-tablets, mobile phones, pen drives, communication system and digital video recorders are also the part of these evidence that are “enough to prove how these separatist leaders have been indulged in anti-national operations on directions of the heads of militant groups”.
The evidence are part of February 26 raid the NIA conducted at the residential premises of these suspected separatist leaders including Shabir Shah, President of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party.
The NIA in January 18 last year filed chargesheet against 12 including Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, seven Kashmiri separatist leaders and others.
The separatist leaders arrested in the case on July 24, 2017 are Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah.
Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali was also arrested in the case on August 17, 2017, and was on September 12 granted bail by the Delhi High Court.(IANS)
Bureaucrats scuttled early polls, alleges Omar
Says banning Jamaat a ‘fixed match’ between PDP, BJP
Srinagar, Mar 18: Former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday alleged that bureaucrats and officers of Jammu and Kashmir, who favoured early assembly polls in the state, were being threatened for expressing their opinion.
In a series of tweets, Omar hit out at top bureaucrats in the state alleging that they were scuttling democracy in Jammu and Kashmir adding that “officers who are in favour of early state polls are being browbeaten and threatened.”
“One day we will talk about the cabal of officers in J&K who for their own selfish reasons have taken it upon themselves to scuttle democracy in the state,” Omar tweeted.
“Some have no stakes in the state & some are looking at post retirement postings in cushy appointments. Whatever their reasons they have chosen to put their personal interest ahead of the greater good,” read one of his tweet.
“I’m shocked to hear how officers who have supported early assembly elections are being browbeaten & threatened using their performance appraisals against them to get them to toe the line,” Omar said in another tweet.
“No honest officer should fear these threats. We must put the greater good ahead of our personal preferences & benefits. Those people making the threats will not remain in the state for very long,” he added.
The Election Commission while announcing the polling schedule for general elections and Assembly elections in some states had announced that only Lok Sabha polls will be held in the state.
The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) targeted the Centre over the decision and Omar at the time had said that the move shows how the BJP-PDP government mishandled the state.
Sources said in their interaction with the ECI, some of the deputy commissioners and the SSP’s had informed the ECI that the situation is not conducive for the Assembly election. They said some officers from Kupwara and Anantnag districts of Kashmir were, however, in favour of the holding Assembly elections simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections.
According to agency reports one of the advisors of the governor speaking on the condition of anonymity said that each officer presented his view according to his own assessment of the situation. “There was not any unanimous view about the elections. In fact, some of the officers asked for more security forces companies,” he said.
Meanwhile, addressing a public gathering at Damhal Hanji Pura, in south Kashmir’s Kulgam District, Omar said that all through his stint as chief minister, he never felt the need to ban Jamaat-e-Islami.
“In 2010 when the situation was tumultuous, we brought the situation to normalcy, but we didn’t ban JeI. Their schools and other institutions kept running.”
Flaying the ‘new-fanged gimmickry’ of Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said, “Now a days she is saying that she too might be arrested. What will she be arrested for? This assertion hints towards some tacit match fixing between BJP and PDP. We in Kashmir have been hearing a lot about match fixing.”
“I feel that the ban on JeI is thought-out match fixing between BJP and PDP to help BJP save its face value in rest of the country and also help PDP milk the situation here in Kashmir. Nobody is going to be arrested. People are now privy to such election gimmicks and political tears as are only seen in their eyes at the time of elections,” he added.
“We didn’t see them in tears in 2016. At that time she mocked the miseries of people with her ‘milk and toffee comments’. It is the same Mehbooba who refused to recompense the person who was used as human shield, given the fact that state human rights commission had recommended a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim. Where was her sympathy then? Case against Mirwaiz was registered in 2017; it didn’t happen in my tenure as chief minister, neither during my father’s. It was she who unleashed plethora of miseries on people in the shape of decreasing the quota of ration, implementation of GST, use of pellet guns, and what not,” he said.