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SUNDAY’S KILLINGS: Kashmir locks down in protest

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Srinagar, May 07: A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir Valley on Monday against the civilian and militant killings that took place in Srinagar and Shopian during the weekend.
After three militants and civilian were killed in Srinagar on Saturday, Sunday proved even bloodier as 10 people including five militants and five civilians were killed in an encounter in Shopian and clashes in several parts of south Kashmir.
Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, on Sunday, had extended the strike till Monday and asked the people to march to the Civil Secretariat here, which opened as part of the durbar move.
Authorities, however, imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar to thwart the Hurriyat call for protests and dharna against the killings.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was detained soon after he tried to carry out the proposed march towards the Civil Secretariat.
Talking to media outside his Nigeen residence before being detained, Mirwaiz said, “Kashmir is witnessing the height of repression as all limits of atrocities have been crossed. People are craving for justice but all doors of justice stand closed to us. Kashmiris especially our youth who are our future are being targeted in fact they are being hounded by the government forces who armed with unbridled powers like AFSPA, DAA bear no accountability for killing them.”
“Since Indian forces launched operation all out, it has been a declaration of war against people of Kashmir and south Kashmir is bearing the biggest brunt of it where almost each day youth are being brazenly killed and critically injured and there seems to be no end to it. In yesterday’s massacre at Shopian, all those killed and injured have been hit by live ammunition above waist in head throat and even eyes with the intention to kill,” he added.
Meanwhile, all business establishments and educational institutions remained shut across the Valley.
Mobile internet services remained barred in Srinagar on third consecutive day on Monday after it was snapped following Chattabal gunfight in the heart of city that left three militants including a Srinagar resident dead.
A complete shutdown was observed in Ganderbal, the native district of the Assistant Professor Dr Rafi, who was one among the five militants killed in Shopian on Sunday.
Large number of people thronged his house and expressed sympathies with bereaved family. Locals alleged that police arrested five youth, all residents of Kangan when they were returning home after offering funeral prayers of the slain militant Rafi Ahmed.
Stone-pelting incidents occurred at few places in Ganderbal district.
Clashes erupt in Newa Pulwama where agitated youth pelted stones on Para-military troopers. Witnesses said that youth took to roads and pelted stones on 182 Battalion camp of CRPF. The troopers retaliated with tear-smoke shells. The clashes continued for hours.
Clashes also erupted at Kakapora Pulwama when youth stoned police station Kakapora.
Reports from South Kashmir’s Shopian said that district wore a deserted look while massive security arrangements were put in place to maintain law and order. Thousands of people participated in the last rites of two slain militants Sadam Paddar and Bilal Molvi at Heff Shermal where youth carried out a pro-freedom march.
According to reports shutdown was observed in all 10 districts of Kashmir Valley including Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora.
Jammu’s Banihal town also observed shutdown against Kashmir killings.
Reports said that a complete shutdown was observed in Banihal town of Jammu’s Ramban district over ‘killing spree’ in Kashmir Valley.
Reports added all the shops, other business establishment and schools remain closed in solidarity with the people of Valley.


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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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