Jammu:Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday had a go at the state Government andaccused the Mehbooba Mufti-led collation government of “failure on all fronts”. Omar also cornered the Chief Minister over the issue of educated youth taking up arms and pointed out that while he was accused of creating Burhan Wani, the slain Hizb Commander during his tenure but the current Government too had made many educated youth to take up arms.
Omar was speaking in the legislative assembly a day after Governor N N Vohra in a not so veiled attack on Mehbooba led Government pointed out to what many believe is governance deficit in the state. ”I have to call the chief minister every now and then to sound her on expeditious implementation of key developmental projects and other issues concerning the state”, Vohra had said during his speech at the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Memorial Lecture held in Jammu on Monday.
Speaking in the Assembly, the opposition National Conference leader demanded that the government give a clarification on Sharma’s mandate.
“What is the mission of the special representative? If he works like a super chief minister, as we hear, by meeting delegations to look into the problems with regard to power, water, non-availability of doctors at hospital, unemployment issues. (But) It is your job,” Omar said during the motion of thanks on governor’s address.
“You (Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Sharma) are treading on parallel tracks…. It is your responsibility and not Sharma’s to set right electricity transformers, to improve water supply or giving job orders to unemployed youth.
“If he is a special representative, as was mentioned by the governor in his speech, his responsibility should be different,” the former chief minister said.
Apparently referring to separatist leaders, Omar said Sharma should meet “such people, who will facilitate resolution of the big issues. The minor issues could be solved by you as well”.
He said the appointment of Sharma by the Centre came several months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech from Red Fort, said that bullets or abuses will not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it can be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri.
“After the prime minister’s speech, we were hopeful of a new beginning and we waited and waited. Then, suddenly, an announcement was made about the nomination of Sharma but soon after confusion took over,” he said,
Omar asked the government to clarify if Sharma was an interlocutor or a special representative or a spokesperson as different voices were coming from the governments at the centre and in the state on the issue.
“First we don t know what is the real status of Sharma.
You said he is a special representative, and in speeches and interviews he was given the status of interlocutor, but MoS in PMO (Jitendra Singh) said he is not an interlocutor but a spokesman,” Omar said.
The former chief minister asked what was Sharma’s “mandate and what do you want to achieve from his appointment”.
Whether there is a time frame for his mission or it will go on indefinitely. “He has the mandate to talk to who all, MoS PMO says that the talks will be held within the frame work of Constitution while MoS Home says the talks won t be held with separatists.
“You are saying he will talk with everyone who is ready for talks but the home minister says Sharma himself will decide with whom to talk,” he said.
Sharma is not here on his own will, the NC leader said and wondered “how he would say he will talk to separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq or Yaseen Malik”.
Omar said there should be clarity on his mandate.
The NC working president also asked the Centre to clarify whether Sharma is preparing a report and if it will be submitted to Parliament.
Omar cautioned th government that if the “past mistakes” are repeated, “the people won’t have much faith” in the exercise.
“Some are our mistakes, some we inherited. If you are not setting right the past mistakes or adding another chapter, then what is the fun,” he said.
“Whenever I used to be with Mufti sahab, he would, in the middle of the conversation, suddenly pick up the phone and call the chief secretary, the director general of police, some commissioner-secretary or a deputy commissioner to seek feedback on the instructions he would have passed on about any particular developmental project or work in a particular area of the state,” Vohra added.
Omar on Tuesday used the Governor’s speech to corner the Mehbooba led Government and h said the “open criticism of the coalition government by the Governor was proof of its failure on all fronts”.Abdullah said the Governor’s statement was an “indictment” against the PDP-BJP collation government, proving its failure on all fronts.
He said the situation in the state had drastically deteriorated since the PDP-BJP government assumed power. He said the government’s promise of development was nowhere to be seen.
Omar also questioned the decision of conduct of panchayat polls in the state.Referring to the prevailing situation in Kashmir, Omar claimed that even ruling party MLA’s were not ready for panchayat polls.He was speaking in the state assembly while taking part in the thanks on governor’s address.
Kashmir receives fresh snowfall, aerial traffic affected
By Tabish Shafi
Srinagar, Jan 17: Kashmir on Wednesday received fresh snowfall affecting the aerial traffic and bringing life to halt.
The fresh snowfall in this morning across the Valley disrupted the normal life in Kashmir with surface traffic remaining suspended for a day while as the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained open despite the snowfall.
Authorities in Srinagar Airport said that the flights to and from Srinagar were suspended in view of the prevailing weather conditions as well as the poor visibility.
Officials said that flights will be operational once the weather conditions and visibility will improve.”Due to bad weather/ heavy snowfall, all flights have been cancelled”.
Meanwhile, the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was open for one-way traffic as there was little or no snowfall in south Kashmir parts on Wednesday.
“Road Status: #Srinagar-Jammu highway open, Traffic plying from Srinagar to #Jammu; Srinagar-Kargil road Closed; Anantnag-Kishtwar road Closed; Mughal Road closed; Bandipora-Gurez road closed; Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Keran, Kupwara-Machail roads closed. @JmuKmrPolice,” Police tweeted.
Director of Meteorological department (MeT), Sonum Lotus said that the light rains as well as snowfall were predicted by the department earlier. “The reports of moderate snowfall were received from some places in Kashmir today,” he said.
He added that the weather would remain mostly cloudy in Kashmir from Jan 18-19, saying that from Jan 19 evening onwards; there is possibility of light rains and snowfall at isolate places.
Lotus further added that the MeT has predicted highly dynamic weather till Jan 23 in Kashmir. “From Jan 20-23, there is possibility of moderate rains and snowfall across the Valley,” he said, adding that the surface as well as the road traffic would also get affected due to the snow spell.
Meanwhile, the state administration claimed to have adequate measures to ensure basic facilities and road clearance during and in the aftermath of fresh snowfall.
The top officials held a series of meetings so far to finalize arrangements in this regard.
The respective district administrations have also asked the officials to gear up for the fresh snow spell as predicted by the Meteorological department
Meanwhile, the day temperatures across the Kashmir Valley nosedived amid fresh snowfall.
A meteorological department official told that Srinagar recorded a maximum of 1.0 degree Celsius, more than six degrees below normal for this time of the year. The capital city saw 5.4 mm of snow (when converted into rain) from 0830 to 1730 hours.
The famous hill resort of Pahalgam recorded a maximum of minus 1.6 degree Celsius and saw snowfall of 8.5mm.
Qazginund, the gateway town of Kashmir, saw a maximum of 2.2 degrees Celsius while Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded a maximum of 1.1 degrees Celsius. Both these places saw zero or traces of snowfall.
The MeT official said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a maximum of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius and it had a snowfall of 15.2 mm during the day.
Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a maximum of 0.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.
JK showcases tourism potential at Asia’s largest travel show
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16: Launching its aggressive marketing campaign, the Department of Tourism, participated in the 3-day South Asian Travel and Tourism Exhibition (SATTE) travel show which began here on Wednesday.
SATTE is one of the biggest travel shows in Asia providing platform for travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination management companies, tourism boards to sell their products and network to their potential clients from across the globe.
Besides, J&K Tourism Department, over hundred travel agents, hoteliers, other service providers and heads of the various travel and hotel associations from the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions are participating in the travel show to showcase the State’s tourism potential.
Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Samphel, Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani and Director Tourism Jammu Om Prakash Bhagat along with other senior officers from the Department participated in the travel show.
They had an interaction with the leading travel agents from within and outside the country and apprised them about the State’s tourism products.
“SATTE is one of the largest tourism shows in Asia where we can promote our tourism destinations. The department will provide all the information about the JK’s destinations, products, services to the visitors to attract them to the state,” the Secretary Tourism said.
Over 20000 visitors, including domestic and international sellers and buyers, State tourism officials, heads of international tourism boards, hoteliers, and aviation experts showcased their products and services to the global trade community.
The travel show also provides an opportunity for the state tourism department to conduct business sessions with the visitors during the travel show.
On the first day, the Tourism Department of at its pavilion screened short films on different destinations for the visitors who were mesmerized to see the stunning beauty. It also showcased State’s splendid art, craft and sumptuous traditional food.
A large number of visitors turned up at J&K pavilion to inquire about the State’s tourism products, new destinations and infrastructure development.
The Department informed them about the pilgrim, MICE, heritage, art and craft, food, known and lesser-known destinations of all the three regions of the state.
The Department also distributed comprehensive publicity material in the form of brochures and pamphlets, pen drives containing travel videos of different destinations to the visitors at its pavilion.
During the convention, Secretary Tourism, Director Tourism Kashmir, Director Tourism Jammu along with heads of local travel and hospitality sector will also hold separate meet with media to apprise them about the Kashmir being the safe tourist destination.
The Director Tourism Kashmir said the department has planned series of road shows and shall also participate in travel marts in the next two months.
“We will be visiting major cities in the country for road shows. We have also planned road shows in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh where from we have got a good response from the travellers,” he said.
All election formalities to be completed by Feb end: Sources
Srinagar, Jan 16 : All election formalities in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be completed by February end after which the Election Commission of India will take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously.
Top sources while disclosing this to Kashmir News Service (KNS) revealed that the Jammu and Kashmir government has fast paced the process of completing election formalities for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections by February end and the final electoral roles are likely to be published anytime after January 20.
As already reported the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar held video conference on finalization of electoral roles and other election related arrangements with all the district election officers (DEOs) of all the three regions of the state Tuesday this week.
Sources said the authorities in the election commission will work on the suitability of the location of polling booths across Jammu and Kashmir after January 20 and the process is likely to be completed by February 15.
The Election Commission of India, sources said, is likely to take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously earliest by February end and latest by March 15 and the polling in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held in the month of April only.
The polling, sources said, is likely to be held in eight phases adding that the polls in south Kashmir however may be held exclusively on the day when polls in no other part of the state will be held keeping in view the volatile situation in four districts of south Kashmir.