New Delhi, Apr 13: Denouncing his own party for “non-fulfilling of commitments”, Jammu and Kashmir tourism minister and brother of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Tasaduq Mufti has said “we (PDP) have ended up being partners in a crime (with BJP) that an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood”.
In a freewheeling interview with The Indian Express, Tasaduq has said: “I am not going to be quiet and act as if I am unmoved by the tragedy that is unfolding at ground level, just because I am part of the government. All lives matter. Lives of the people on both sides of ideological divide. And this is a government for the people and I see nothing wrong in standing with the people to find a solution to the ongoing crisis’’.
“Today the threat is that while we are in control, we are no longer trusted. We were supposed to be partners in rebuilding of this place but, sad to admit this, due to the non-fulfilling of commitments, we have ended up being partners in a crime that an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood,” report quoted Tasaduq as having said.
Tasaduq, who was a cinematographer before joining politics and holds tourism portfolio, as per report said: “I do not wish to talk about tourism at a time when a mood of bereavement has filled the Kashmir valley…Tourism in Kashmir has suffered a huge setback whenever there is violence because it is an industry for which peace is imperative. No one can risk his life and visit a place where he doesn’t get a sense of joy.’’
“I do not want that the number of passenger planes landing at Srinagar airport is used as a counter-argument to the number of coffins that are interned elsewhere. I don’t want that we have to hide our tears from our guests and hide our guests from the mourners on the streets. I am not for importing crowds of people to camouflage the immense outpouring of grief that has become a part of our daily life. Instead, I am for a tourism that is seen as a sincere developmental exercise by our people and not as a military operation. My tourism is for the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh first and then for everyone else,” Tasaduq was quoted in the report as having said.
In his stern message to the Center to hold talks to end the current imbroglio in Kashmir, Tasaduq as per report said: “…give up its obduracy and recognise the problem at hand, de-escalate tension, resume the political process”.
On Kathua minor rape and murder, Tasaduq said: “The brutal murder-rape of a tribal child and the subsequent communal politics over it has pushed the state to a new low and brought shame to all of us…If coalition politics is about living with a series of failures and ignominies, then I am sorry I don’t know how to hide my awkwardness and discomfort with it”.
Tasaduq in his interview also expressed concern over the use of pellets on protestors in Kashmir.
“No war can be won against the people and this is something we must not lose sight of. The government can’t wait to see who blinks first. Immediate political reach out is needed. The onus is on the Centre to find ways and means to engage people. Talking to Pakistan is important and political hawkishness might apepar to give us temporary gains but in the long term it can damage us severely,” Tasaduq was quoted as having said.
“We find ourselves today at the cross roads of despair and abandonment. We are seen as a government which has a lot of money to build latrines, to install transformers and to repair potholes but has no word of sympathy to offer to a hurt, alienated population. The only Centrally sponsored scheme that could have worked in Kashmir was a credible political initiative backed by the Centre that would be a departure from similar engagements of the past…but that most important element of compassion is still missing. Those in the Centre who believe that money can buy everything must remind themselves that Kashmiris have perfected the art of seeing through the silk-sheets of Shylockian politics,’’report quoted Tasaduq as having said.
“What great expectations should we have when our only answer to our people’s cries of anguish and anger, is the bullet?…How does one look away from our mothers who have lost their young sons? How does one look away from the pain? This anger and disillusionment is sure to spread its tentacles far and wide. I am disturbed by this reality and it constantly weighs on my mind. But to keep silent when every other day is a day of mourning, when young shoulders are carrying the burden of our collective inadequacies, when the repeated rape and murder of an eight-year-old child finds advocacy in the name of religion, would be a sin. This is not my voice alone but the overriding sentiment of our party,” report quoted Tasaduq as having said.
Saying that daily loss of lives in Kashmir has brought alienation and provoking youngsyers to take up “violence”, Tasaduq as per report said: Escalation in violence and the day to day loss of lives has brought Kashmir to the brink of a disaster. If there is an irritant that is provoking youngsters to take up to violence, that irritant must go immediately. We can’t burn all bridges and expect that masses can be made to yield by sheer might of the state. It doesn’t work that way. The alienation has reached to a level now where it can lead to bloodshed of a scale that doesn’t find a precedent in history”.
Tasaduq has also expressed his concern over qualified youth taking up arms and urged for resolution of Kashmir issue. “The outpouring from student class is a huge alert sign. Highly qualified youngsters leaving homes to take up arms is something that can’t be blamed on radicalisation alone…We can’t get into war of narratives. At the cost of sounding politically incorrect, I am reaffirming that Kashmir issue needs to be resolved immediately if we wish to see lasting peace in the subcontinent”, Tasaduq was quoted as having stated.
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.