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Tourism is magical medicine for the Valley: Mehbooba Mufti

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Srinagar, Apr 4: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today described tourism as a “magical medicine” that can provide a healing touch to the wounds of the people and said the Valley was safe for all visitors.

A day after reports of tourists being pelted with stones in the Valley, Mehbooba asked people not to fall prey to rumours and said the trouble was the handiwork of “some vested interests”.

“There have been some isolated incidents of tourists getting injured during clashes. However, projecting them as a deliberate design with malafide intention by a section of the media is regretted and should be condemned. The Valley is safe,” Mehbooba told PTI in an interview here.

 

The chief minister, who has been camping here since Monday, said she had personally taken stock of the situation and directed all law enforcement agencies to ensure that places frequented by tourists in the Valley are guarded properly.

“During the process of movement of tourists, there were unfortunate incidents of some tourists caught in a stone-pelting mob situation. There were injuries to our guests. This has been criticised by one and all. Since yesterday, various tourism related organisations have approached me.?

Tourism, she said, was the ?mainstay? of Kashmirs economy.

“The state has gone through an enormous phase of violence. The tourism industry is one magical medicine that can provide a healing touch to the wounds of people. This can benefit an ordinary shikarawala, roadside hawker, small eatery…,” Mehbooba said.

“You see, after many stressful years, we have an opportunity for our common Kashmiri brothers and sisters to earn. No Kashmiri will push away an opportunity to earn his or her livelihood,? she said.

The trouble, she added, was the handiwork of some vested interests who wanted people in the Valley to continue to suffer.

Expressing regret that some tourists were hurt in last few days, Mehbooba said, “I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to my guests. Saying this, I maintain that there was no malafide intention.”

According to the chief minister, only a few people had cut short their holidays. “See the crowd at Pahalgham and Gulmarg. I only pray to Almighty that the queues increase and people do not fall prey to rumours.”

The chief minister referred to the recent convention of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), held in Kashmir after a gap of three decades and said she had appealed to the members to clear negative perceptions about Jammu and Kashmir in their respective markets.

She also appealed to tourism bodies across the country to partner with the state governments initiative to help provide a healing touch to the people of the state.

The chief minister said people here had suffered a lot but their hospitality and warmth remains unmatched even in these trying times.

Remembering her late father, former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she said he always said tourists visiting Kashmir were an investment in peace.

“My father would always say when a tourist visits us, it is an investment in peace and also addresses the alienation being suffered by the people of the state,” she said.


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Inquiry ordered: Rhetoric of decades

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 20: As a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, many families whose members have been killed by government forces find such exercises futile.
29-year-old Rizwan Assad Pandith, a school teacher from Awantipora was killed in police custody on Tuesday, following which the District Magistrate Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary ordered an inquiry.
Mohammad Iqbal Bhat, a local from Kupwara never received justice after his son was killed in 2017.
His son Asif, a driver by profession, was killed by government forces in December 2017, which triggered massive protests and clashes in the district.
The family claims that Asif was killed by army while he was on his way to pick up a passenger from the nearby highway in Kupwara.
The then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jehangir had ordered a magisterial probe into the killing and sought the report within three weeks.
More than a year later, the report is yet to reach the family.
“I was once produced before the judge in a local court in March last year where I gave my statement. The police ensured me that action will be taken against army, which has not happened so far,” said Bhat, who works as a forest guard.
He added the family wasn’t informed about the findings of the probe yet.
“When nothing happened in last one year, I left visiting the police station. They often told me that the file was in some other department. I don’t know whether some action was taken against the army or not,” Bhat said.
The family of Javed Ahmad Bhat, a Shopian resident who was killed by government forces in January 2018, too has stopped following the case, in which a probe was ordered by the then Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Aijaz Asad.
“We deliberately didn’t follow the case as we had the experience of their investigation when my younger cousin Aqib Ahmad Bhat was killed by the same army camp in 2008. My uncle had to visit Srinagar every week and still no justice was delivered to us,” Waseem Ahmad Bhat brother of slain Javed told The Kashmir Monitor.
Javed was shot dead along with two other youth in Ganowpora, Shopian by Army after locals resisted army’s move to remove the banners of the slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Waseem said the families of two other youth killed in the incident too have given up hopes of justice.
“It was useless to wait for the government report which was expected to come within 20 days. Neither anyone approached us nor did we seek any investigation,” he said.
Similarly, in case of Handwara killing of 2016, when two youth and a 57-year woman were killed by army is under trial at a local court in Handwara.
“A Special Investigation Team of Police was also constituted to probe the case. The case is currently under trail in Sub District Court Handwara and no action has been taken against the guilty yet,” the family of slain youth Nayeem Qadir said.

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JK isn’t NC’s personal estate: Mehbooba

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Jammu, Mar 20: In a blistering attack at former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for dubbing emergence of new parties in Kashmir as a New Delhi ploy to divide Kashmiri mandate, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday (March 20) said, J&K is not a personal property of the National Conference.
Mehbooba’s attack followed Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone’s diatribe against Omar Abdullah that he needed ‘mental treatment” for opposing emergence of new parties.
“It is unfortunate that National conference considers Jammu and Kashmir as its own estate. When (former Chief Minister) Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed brought Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, they called them worms of dirty drain (as a Delhi’s party),” Mehbooba told reporters here.
“When the PDP was formed, they alleged the same thing. Today when Shah Faseal formed a new outfit, Omar Abdullah says the same thing,” said Mehbooba.
The PDP chief said Omar Abdullah feels any party formed in J&K will claim right on their estate of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is a democratic country and everyone has the right to form one’s own party and do politics. Jammu and Kashmir is not a personal property of the NC,” she added.
Omar’s remarks came on the day Shah Faesal, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who was reportedly slated to join the NC, launched his own party – ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement’.
Omar had reacted to the development dubbing it as a New Delhi ploy to divide the kashmiri mandate.
“Why is it that these political parties are launched only in Kashmir, why not in Jammu or Ladakh? Doesn’t it clearly indicate a ploy aimed at dividing us further?” Omar had asked, addressing his party workers’ convention in Anantnag Monday.
“It is a fact that conspiracies have been hatched for long to weaken our special status. While in Jammu and Ladakh, the (political) field is being left open for the Congress and the BJP, here (in Kashmir) there is always an attempt to divide the mandate,” Omar had said, indirectly blaming New Delhi behind the move.
Lone too had attacked Omar Abdullah Monday.
“Were we to give power to Omar Abdullah after Maharaja Hari Singh? He got Kashmiris killed in 2010. Before that his father got people killed and maimed from 1996 to 2002. Before that his father rigged the elections in 1987,” Lone had told reporters in Handwara.
Peoples Conference chief asked Omar Abdullah if there should be no other party except the NC.
“Do they have a copyright? Let me tell you Omar Abdullah is not a kid. He is throwing others’ lives in danger. New people have come on the political horizon. They are moving with few PSOs. Omar and his father and other family members are guarded by 600 to 700 security guards,” he said.
Lone said had Shah Faesal joined National Conference, then he would have been a “good man” for Omar.
“Now he has launched his own party, so he becomes a New Delhi

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Snow, rains in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Incessant rains lashed the plains while upper reaches received fresh snowfall in Kashmir valley on Wednesday.
Non-stop overnight rains in the valley have inundated roads at several places, including the Regal Chowk in commercial hub of Lal Chowk in Srinagar city. A government official said that that de-watering is going on at many places.
On Tuesday, a MeT Department spokesman had warned that there could be widespread light to moderate rain, snow or thundershowers over the Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours which could result in drop in the temperature.
He said that there could be light to moderate rain or snow or thundershowers and the maximum temperature will drop further and settled at 9 degree, six notches below normal in the summer capital during the next 24 hours.
However, the minimum temperature will be near normal, he had said.
The incessant rains triggered fresh landslides on Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link of the valley with the rest of the India. An official said the traffic movement was suspended due to the landslides.

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