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Talks possible when Hurriyat forgets Pakistan: Governor

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 25: Governor, Satya Pal Malik, on Thursday said talks with Hurriyat were possible only after they keep Pakistan out of the equation.

Talking to reporters on the side-lines of ‘Kashmir autumn FAM festival’ here, the governor said his prerogative was to create peaceful atmosphere in the valley to facilitate talks.

“Hurriyat tohbina Pakistan se puche toilet bhinahinjate (Hurriyat doesn’t even prefer going to toilet without seeking permission from Pakistan.) There will be no talk till they stop talking about Pakistan,” he said.

 

Malik said barring a few politicians, he couldn’t meet the other stakeholders yet.

“So far, I met Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami only.”

Asked about the civilian killings, he said the casualties at Kulgam were an outcome of “the carelessness” shown both by forces and the public.

“The Kulgam civilian killings were unfortunate. The area should have been sanitised before calling off the encounter,” the governor said.

“Forces have been directed to aware people about the presence of explosives under such circumstances. We directed them to spread the message through media to appeal people to stay away from the encounter sites. Politicians and people too have a role to avert such happening in future,” he said.

Governor said Kashmir has been “witnessing a decrease” in the level of violence and recruitment into militant outfits.

“It has been possible due to the attitude of the people,” he said.

Malik said boycott by the political parties and militants resulted in low voter turnout in the recently-held Urban Local Bodies elections.

“In Srinagar, 10,000 people came out to vote. But people will have to take part in Panchayat polls,” he said.

On scrapping of medical insurance for government employees, Malik claim that there was a scam in the file report.

“Even employees wanted the scheme cancelled,” he said.

On corruption at higher levels in administration, he hinted that many officers are likely to get booked under such cases.

“We have constituted an Anti- Corruption Bureau with distinctive laws to overlook such happenings. The KAS officers also have been asked to submit their property details within a month.  You all will see many will get trapped ahead,” he said.

New Delhi Kashmir’s friend

Calling New Delhi a friend of Kashmir, Malik said problems in the valley started due to the “wrongdoings” of erstwhile governments at the centre.

Addressing delegates and tourism players at the function organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, Malik said the people of Kashmir should not be held responsible for the problems in the region.

“There was a government in Delhi once, whose wrongdoings led to the emergence of separatism and the problem in Kashmir,” he said.

“New Delhi favours Kashmiris ruling the entire India. Talks alone can improve the situation in the valley.

“Being a representative of government, I can assure you that Delhi is Kashmiris friend. New Delhi doesn’t want to rule you people, but it wants Kashmiris to rule the entire country,” he said.

Calling the state “a safest place”, governor said the killings in Kashmir were comparatively lesser than in any other state.

“I know my statement will hurt the people of Bihar, but it is a truth that the entire Kashmir witnesses lesser killings than Patna records on a single day. Everybody is safe, no matter who is in the hit list,” he said.

He said no civilian was killed during the recent municipal polls in the state.

“The improvement in the situation can be gauged with the fact that not a single killing happened during the four phases of ULB polls, though last year during Parliamentary by-polls, nine civilians died on a single day,” he said.

Malik said the region has a scope to compete with the world’s known destination such as Switzerland.

“If peace returns, no state can compete with Kashmir. Tourists also should not get frightened from visiting Kashmir, as I myself walked two kilometers yesterday without security,” he said.

He said the hospitality shown by Kashmiris has been a unique selling point of the region.

“Kashmiri youth should get all the facilities like cinema, coffee shops and a distinctive IPL team to play cricket ahead,” he said.

Over recent episode of suspension order against Aligarh Muslim University students, who held a funeral in absentia for slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Manan Wani, Malik said the order was revoked after his intervention.

Governor said liaison officer will be deputed in each state for Kashmir students.

“The lesion officer will stay in the nearby police station, who will be overlooking for wellbeing and needs of these students,” he said.

On Bhagwat Geeta order

Expressing his displeasure over the recent order of introducing Urdu Bhagwat Geeta and Ramayana in the schools in the state, governor said the circular might have been issued by some “naïve person”.

“Koi nasamajhaddmithajisnebhejatha (some naïve person sent the order). But I immediately scrapped the circular,” he said.


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3 militants killed in Budgam encounter

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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)

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Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted

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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).

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Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects

Bisma Bhat

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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.

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