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TAAI convention: Tourism Minister says ‘environmental strategy’ below par

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By  Firdous Hassan

Srinagar, Mar 27: Minister for Tourism, Tasaduq Mufti, on Tuesday said the Valley’s “environmental strategy” was below par, as “73 per cent” of the waste finds way to the water bodies.
Mufti, speaking at the inaugural function of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) convention being held here after 30 years, said there was a need to redefine development in the Valley.
“As a department for tourism, we also need to define our wrong policies and a sense of sub-regional identities. We must accept that we lack a language of architecture for taking our culture forward,” he said.
Mufti informed that the Tourism Department was developing a policy to keep “the environmental concerns at the forefront”.
“Our policy will be driven by the protection of forest, water, and land. We are trying to create a workforce, driven by conservation,” he said.
Regarding promotion of the Valley as a tourist destination, Mufti said the “negative perception” about Kashmir needs to be changed, for which, he said, media and the civil society needs to play their roles.
“We start by creating opportunities and talking to the world outside. God willing this will be a very wonderful year, but things could go wrong as they often do, so I think we need to strategise and also make these partnerships more tangible,” he said.
Regarding TAAI convention, Mufti said he desired “enduring partnership with the association”.
“It is great to have TAAI conference here as in many ways it will be a historic event. We couldn’t hope a better starter of the year than this event. So, we are looking for enduring partnership with TAAI ahead,” he said.
“You need to be on a larger platform. This may not be the best place to address issues of peace but we have to discuss the matters of peace more comprehensively.”
Asked about the development of tourist spots along the borders, he said, “Tourism should prosper everywhere irrespective of the area.”
On the occasion, President TAAI, Sunil Kumar, hoped that the convention would promote Kashmir at large by luring tourists to here.
“Once the convention is over, the visibility of Kashmir as tourism destination will multiply many times. And the result will be that more tourists will visits to Kashmir which is our prime goal,” he said.
Describing Kashmir as a “wonderfully-carved” place, Kumar informed about the series of event to be held during the convention.
“The TAAI started with the opening of tulip garden of March 25 as a management committee meeting was held on the same day. We kick started TAAI golf tournament and from tomorrow onwards its business, networking, tourism interaction, knowledge session will follow,” he said.

 
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Principal’s ‘custodial killing’: Probe officer meets family, locals

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Pulwama Qazi Masood probing the “custodial killing” of a school principal Saturday met the victim’s family in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.
Rizwan Asad Pandit, the Principal of Sabir Abdullah Public School Tral, was picked up by the police from his home late on March 17 during a raid and was killed in police custody at the Cargo Building two days later, according to his family.
Although the police had initially admitted that Rizwan had “died” in custody and that the matter was being probed under “procedure laid down in Section 176 of CRPC,” it later filed an FIR against him for “escape or attempts to escape from custody”, lending a new twist to the case.
The magisterial inquiry that was ordered in Srinagar was also closed and a fresh probe ordered in Pulwama district and a report sought in “four weeks.”
“Government has appointed me as an inquiry officer, I assured the family that I will conduct the fair investigation into the case,” the inquiry officer Qazi Masood told GNS after meeting Rizwan’s family members and local residents.
Masood said he has sought a report from SP Awantipora on why and how Rizwan was detained and the circumstances that led to his death.
“I have also sought a postmortem report from the SP,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, reports said that soon after the inquiry officer arrived in the area and met the family members, locals held a protest demonstration demanding stern action against the guilty.

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Civil society, traders, Bar demand special inquiry commission

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Kashmir business community, civil society, and High Court Bar Association on Saturday asked Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Paul Malik to set-up an independent Special Commission of inquiry in the custodial killing of Awantipora school teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, they said that there have been countless instances of inquiries being ordered in killings without any results.
“To deter future violations, we appeal to the Governor for setting up of a time-bound Independent Special Commission of Inquiry,” they said.
The members said that till the time the commission submits its report, it would serve justice if the case is treated to be one of custodial killing and all persons associated with it are put behind bars and kept away from active duty.
“Such inquiries, suffering from institutional bias and state interference, have rarely served the interests of justice,” they said.
“We have a reason to believe that this killing would also suffer the same fate and the killers would again roam free to kill, more confident in the fact that their crimes will never be brought to account,” they said.
They said that the repeated perpetration of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law needs in-depth fact-finding and investigation.
On Tuesday, Rizwan Asad Pandit, a 29-year-old school teacher, died inside the Jammu and Kashmir’s CARGO camp in Srinagar.
He was picked up for questioning from his home in Awantipora on Sunday.
The family had said that his body bore evidence of being subjected to extreme physical violence.
The press conference was jointly held by KCC&I, High Court Bar Association, KTMF, KEA, KTMF (R), FCIK(A), FCIK(M), JKSECC, KCSDS, KHARA, CCIK, All Transport Welfare Association, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Dealers Association, Houseboat Owners Association, KHAROF, Pvt School Association, Kashmir Bakers Association, All Kashmir Chemist & Distributors Association, Hoteliers Club, All Traders & Transporters Coordination Committee, All J&K Taxi Owners Association, Association Of Kashmir Tour, Environmental Protection Group, Shehr E Khaas Coordination, Beopar Mandal S R Gunj, Rehabilitation Alliance, and Batamaloo Traders Association.

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ED imposes Rs 14.4 lakh penalty on Geelani

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Srinagar, Mar 22: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday imposed Rs 14.4 lakh penalty, on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally” possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000, news agency PTI reported.
After completion of the probe and adjudication proceeding, the ED an order on Wednesday under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), levying the penalty and confiscating forex of $10,000 that was allegedly recovered from Geelani, they said.
The ED will also impose a penalty on Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and confiscate foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik are in progress.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court also allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case.

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