Srinagar, Jan 14: Flagging concern about security during panchayat elections next month in Jammu and Kashmir, political parties have said the atmosphere is “worrisome” and “not conducive” for holding the polls at the moment.
The state government had recently announced that the panchayat polls would be conducted from February 15 and preparations for elections have been set in motion.
However, aspiring contestants and political parties including National Conference (NC), Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) are wary of the announcement, citing the law and order situation in the state, especially in Kashmir valley.
The apprehensions about a smooth conduct of the elections have been accentuated by the separatists’ call for boycott of the polls and the threats issued by militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).
Earlier this month, an audio clip of a purported conversation between two HM militants went viral on social media, in which a commander of the outfit asked the cadres to pour acid into the eyes of those who stand for the upcoming panchayat elections.
Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo in the audio clip told another militant of the outfit, Sameer Tiger, that they should not threaten or kill anyone standing for elections but instead pour “strong acid — Sulphuric acid or Hydrochloric acid” into the eyes of these candidates.
Shafiq Mir, a former panchayat member and chairman of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC), told PTI that though he wants the elections to be conducted, “the reports of security situation are worrisome”.
“Our role is to contest elections and we are ready for that, but the government has to see the security situation. The government has to see how it will create a secure atmosphere for people,” Shafiq said.
Asked about the Hizbul threats and poll boycott call by the separatists, the AJKPC chairman said panchayats have nothing to do with any kind of politics of Jammu and Kashmir and should not be linked to the Kashmir issue.
“Our institution is not a political one but a community institution. We want to tell those who are issuing threats that we have nothing to do with any kind of politics of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“We are not associated with any politics. We are just going to be elected as a local governing body – an executive body for local issues, local development,” Shafiq said.
He said 16 panchayat members were killed and 20 others injured in recent years since elections were held last in 2011.
The state’s main opposition party NC said the law and order situation in the state was “very worrisome” and “disconcerting”, and conducting the polls “should not be one more blunder” which in turn could affect tourism, industry and the state’s economy this year.
“Our point is simple, that the obtaining law and order situation in the state is very worrisome, it is disconcerting and unless they (the government) address that first, unless they address the threats issued to the probable panchayat candidates first, till then no other statement or rhetoric will make sense,” NC state spokesperson, Junaid Azim Mattu, told PTI.
President of JKPCC, G A Mir, said the announcement of the panchayat polls was only an image-building exercise and the ground situation was not conducive for conducting an election in Jammu and Kashmir this time.
A senior police official said the security agencies were fully aware of the threat issued by the militants and a strategy will be formulated to counter that.
“We will discuss it and formulate a strategy to counter the threat,” the official said.
He said that a high-level meeting, to be chaired by the chief minister, would discuss the issue after January 26 in the state’s winter capital Jammu.
3 militants killed in Anantnag gunfight
SRINAGAR: Three militants were killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district, officials said.
The encounter broke out at Pazalpora area in Anantnag on a specific intelligence provided by the district police.
Governor chairs Ist meeting of Jammu Cluster University Council
SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 15: Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chancellor of the Cluster University of Jammu, today chaired the first meeting of the University Council here at the Raj Bhavan.
Advisor to Governor, Khurshid A. Ganai, Pro-Chancellor was also present in the meeting.
While taking overview of the activities of the Cluster University, the Chancellor and Advisor called for creation of University’s own campus with the establishment of schools of excellence. At the outset, the Chancellor stressed that the Cluster Universities are created with the vision to have a strong commitment to nurturing collegiality and leading collaboratively with unremitting dedication to improve transparency and efficiency. He further said that the Cluster University inherits an academic mission whose goals are lofty, yet firmly grounded in an ethos of dynamism and academic responsibility and the mission is to create a community of lifelong learners that fosters Research, Development, Quality, Innovation, experimental learning, community engagements, academic leadership and administrative support.
The Members made several tangible suggestions to make the Cluster University Jammu a real hub of educational activities. They said that Cluster University is a new concept in Jammu and Kashmir and it needs to be empowered so that it becomes choice of students over other Universities in Jammu and Kashmir.
Prof Anju Bhasin, Vice-Chancellor, Cluster University of Jammu made a detailed presentation on the activities and various initiatives taken by the University. The presentation focused on the functioning of the administrative, academic, financial, examination, evaluation and other sectors. She also reported the status of student enrolment in the University, and measures for the development of students and faculty.
Listing some achievements by the University, the VC apprised that 12 new 5 year integrated courses, Honours programme in each of the colleges at UG level and new self-financing innovative, cross disciplinary skill based courses have been introduced. She further highlighted the important reforms introduced by the University which includes Academic Calendar defined for year-1, year-2 and year 3, flexibility to students to choose elective courses, admissions through centralized process, holding of examination in time-bound manner etc.
Financial Commissioner Finance (Financial Advisor Universities), Dr. A.K. Mehta, Financial Commissioner to Governor, Umang Narula, VC, Cluster University of Srinagar, Prof. Sheikh Javid Ahmed, VC, Jammu University, Prof. Manoj Kumar Dhar, Secretary Higher Education, Talat Parvez Rohella, Dean Faculty of Education, Prof. M.A. Lone, Dean Academic Affairs, Prof. Poonam Dhawan, Dr. Jatinder Khajuria, Registrar Member-Secretary, Prof. Anil Gupta, Principal S.P.M.R College of Commerce, Jammu, Prof. Sangeeta Nagri, Principal, College of Education, Jammu, Prof. Koushal Smotra, Principal, GGM Science College, Jammu and Prof. Ravinder Tickoo, Principal, GCW, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu attended the meeting.
Centre mulling political initiative in Kashmir
Srinagar, Oct 15: After restoring mobile phone connectivity in the Valley on Monday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is now working on a mechanism to initiate political engagement which is likely to involve mainstream political parties.
The move is expected to lead to the release of more political leaders from detention though a decision releasing former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti is not on the table yet, Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
Quoting sources, the report said the Centre was keen on beginning political dialogue within the Valley to bridge the trust deficit between the state administration and Kashmiris following the August 5 decision to scrap the state’s special status and bifurcate J&K into Union Territories.
The political mechanism currently under discussion is likely to involve second-rung leaders from regional parties in the Valley to form a political council that can initiate dialogue with people and assuage their fears in the wake of the August 5 decisions, report said.
Part of this council’s mandate is alleviating the sense of alienation and anger in the Valley. Also on the table are certain special provisions that will protect local jobs and the settlement of outsiders in the Valley in order to protect its demographic character and culture.
“Delhi is keen on initiating political engagement. The contours of it are still under discussion. Among the ideas is involvement of the existing political class which as of now does not include the Muftis and the Abdullahs,” the report quoted a senior official privy to the developments.
“Gradual release of significant political actors will be taken in the weeks to come. The Home Minister has already said that statehood will be returned. A decision on who these political actors will be is yet to be taken,” the report added.