Srinagar, Apr 13: The BJP on Friday asked the leaders of ruling parties to refrain from issuing statements that which could “deteriorate” the situation in the state.
The party was reacting to Tourism Minister Tassaduq Mufti’s statement given to national daily that: “PDP and BJP have ended up being partners in a crime (for which) an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood. Today the threat is that while we are in control, we are no longer trusted”.
BJP’s Chief Spokesperson, Sunil Sethi, while disagreeing with Tassduq, said the leaders in the coalition should not make controversial statements.
“We don’t agree with what Tassaduq has said. PDP and BJP are doing justice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Sethi told The Kashmir Monitor.
“Issues should not be dealt with emotionally. Ruling parties’ leaders shall not give statements that deteriorate the situation in the state. It is the duty of the PDP and BJP to control the situation. We are accountable to the people from all three regions.”
The PDP and BJP have come to be divided over the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua.
The BJP has been demanding transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of India, while it opposed the probe conducted by the Crime Branch of the state police.
However, following the outcry the brutality meted out to child has sparked within and outside India, the BJP seems to have softened its stand on the incident.
“Investigation has been done and matter has gone to the court. I request Jammu Bar Association and civil society members to not flare up the issue. If they think that there is anything wrong in the investigation, they should take the legal recourse instead of fighting on roads,” the BJP Spokesperson said.
On demand over sacking of two BJP ministers, who participated in pro-rapist Hindi Ekta Manch rally, he said, “Lal Singh and Chandra Prakash did not say anything against the victim. They only said that they would raise the demand for the transfer of the case to the CBI.”
Spokesperson of the PDP, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said that Tassaduq statement was in the “larger context of Kashmir issue”.
“Kashmir problem is 70 years old. But there are issues that the alliance partners could not fulfill the Agenda of Alliance. We could not implement it as situation was also not conducive. We too did not pursue the matter the way it should have been taken,” Mir said.
Senior PDP leader and Roads and Buildings Minister, Naeem Akhtar said, “This is an expression of pain and anguish. When the PDP aligned with the BJP, it was a historic decision to change the destiny of the state.”
“So far, nothing has happened for which we can feel proud. Tassaduq Mufti’ s interview has to be read in that context.”
Meanwhile, Opposition National Conference leader and former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said that Tassaduq, who is the brother of the Chief Minister, “was new in politics”.
“It has not been much time since he joined politics and has been minister for the last few months only. I salute his honesty what he said. There are only very few chances when a politician accepts the reality,” Abdullah said.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.