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Pandemonium in JK Assembly: Opposition protests, raises slogans over civilian killings

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Jammu, Jan 03: Proceedings in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Legislative Council were stalled today as opposition leaders demanded a discussion on human rights violations and the killing of innocents in the Valley.
A combined opposition walked out of the Assembly after pleading for nearly an hour for a discussion on human rights violations and power crisis in the Valley.
The Legislative Council was also adjourned briefly as the Congress and NC staged a walkout seeking a discussion on the killing of innocents in Kashmir.
In the Assembly, Speaker Kavinder Gupta turned down the adjournment motions moved by the opposition members but agreed to a one-hour discussion after question hour. However, leaders of the NC, Congress, CPI(M) as well as Independent legislators walked out of the House.
As noisy protests and anti-government slogans disrupted proceedings, Sukhnandan Choudhary of the ruling BJP went to the well twice, seeking a reply from the government on issues related to farmers. He also left in a huff.
When the House assembled for the day, members of the NC and Congress as well as Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed asked for adjournment of question hour for a discussion on the security situation in the state, including alleged human rights violations and the power crisis, especially in the Valley.
The speaker did not allow it, prompting them to troop into the well of the house.
Amid slogans like “Dismiss this murderer government” and “Stop human rights violations”, the speaker said a one-hour discussion would be held after question hour.
Almost the entire opposition gathered in the well thrice. They left soon after Minister for Parliamentary Affairs A R Veeri accused the opposition of having “no issues” to raise and deliberately disrupting the house.
“We moved two adjournment motions, one on human rights violations and another on the crisis the people of Kashmir are facing because of inadequate supply of electricity in this harsh winter,” CPI(M) legislator M Y Tarigami told reporters outside the House.
“The very nature of the issues, in our opinion, warranted a discussion and adjournment of business but the speaker did not allow it and that is why we staged a walkout,” he added.
He said the speaker called for a one-hour discussion only after the members entered the well. Even then, he continued to vacillate, adding to the chaos, Tarigami said.
He said the opposition was not disrupting the House and had moved adjournment motions in accordance with procedure. It would continue with its demand for a thorough discussion on issues.
“The house met after a gap of one year. It is imperative to discuss the prevailing situation in the state,” added National Conference MLA Devender Rana.
“This government is inefficient as a result of which even ruling party MLAs are walking out,” he said, referring to BJP legislator Choudhary.
The government, he said, was aware that its failures would get highlighted if there was a discussion and was trying to suppress the opposition’s voice.
Independent MLA Rasheed said he wanted to raise the issue of the gag on the use of social media by government employees but “the house had turned into a fish market”.
He also accused the NC and Congress of enacting a “drama” on the human rights situation.
Clarifying his stance, BJP’s Choudhary said he walked out due to the failure of the government to address his concerns with regard to farmers.
“The government plans to construct ring roads in the twin capitals. The farmers are not happy with the land acquisition policy,” he said.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “revolutionary steps” for farmers, he said his fight was not against his party. He only wanted to ensure that farmer rights were safeguarded, the former minister said.
The chaos in the Assembly found some echo in the Legislative Council where, too, NC and Congress members submitted adjournment motions to Chairman Haji Anayat Ali, asking for a discussion on civilian killings.
The chairman rejected the adjournment motion, prompting slogans and protests by the opposition.
BJP MLC Ajat Shatru Singh also walked out in support of his demand for granting a holiday on the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh.


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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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