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Upcoming elections: BJP banks on ‘some friends’ in JK

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Jan 20: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Sunday said while his party would most likely go it alone in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, it would form a “stable government with some friends” in the state after the polls.
He said his party would contest all seats in the state.
“There is the least possibility of a pre-poll alliance with any party for the assembly elections in the state. The BJP will emerge (as) the largest party after the elections and will give a stable government to the people with some friends,” Madhav told reporters here.
Due to the special circumstances in the state, “we have no hesitation in joining hands with others” to form the government, he said.
Talking about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) erstwhile ruling alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said, “After elections we formed an alliance, but today again the BJP is going it alone in the elections.”
The BJP leader said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick start the party’s campaign for upcoming parliamentary and assembly polls in the state during his visit on February 3.
“While the parliamentary elections are scheduled for April-May, the BJP is ready for the assembly polls in the state as well. It is up to the Election Commission to decide whether the two polls are held together or separately,” Madhav said.
The Election Commission had in November last said fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held within the next six months. The state is currently under President’s rule.
Madhav dismissed allegations that the BJP did not favour assembly polls in the state.
“There is no truth in the rumours being spread that the BJP is not in favour of early assembly polls in the state,” he said.
He claimed some other parties wanted the polls to be deferred as they feared losing.
Asked about the PDP expelling former minister Altaf Bukhari, Madhav said, “I don’t want to talk about internal matters of another political party, but I must underscore one point here that he is the same leader who was projected as the chief minister of the combined opposition when they (PDP, Congress and National Conference) were trying to form the government in the state just a couple of months ago.”
Speaking about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, Madhav said the BJP has prepared a roadmap for the community’s return and rehabilitation and it will be implemented only when the situation in the Valley turns conducive.
“We had identified land at five places in the Valley for pandit townships. But due to various reasons, it could not materialize, the biggest being the prevailing security situation in the Valley,” he said.
The BJP leader said the party was bound by its promise to Kashmiri Pandits and when the situation improves, it will take the community’s leadership into confidence and move forward.

PM to visit JK on Feb 3; BJP expects 2 lakh turnout in Jammu rally

Jammu, Jan 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 3 to lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate various projects in all three regions of the state, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Sunday.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate projects worth Rs 35,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, during his visit.
“The prime minister is visiting the state next month and will visit Leh, Jammu and Srinagar. He will address a mega rally in Jammu in which over two lakh people are expected to turn up,” Madhav told reporters here.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for AIIMS, IIM, IIT, Jammu-Akhnoor road, Shahpur-Kandi road, Sunderbani College, and IIMC in Jammu during his visit.
The prime minister will also inaugurate an engineering college in Kathua and the Jammu ropeway project, he added.
Responding to a question, the BJP general secretary said, “We tried to take forward many projects being part of the previous government, like AIIMS. It was due to our efforts that we brought one AIIMS for Jammu even when in rest of the country only one AIIMS was given to each state.”
Madhav alleged that several projects were delayed due to the Peoples Democratic Party — the BJP’s coalition partner in the erstwhile state government.
“We undertook many projects like this. However, the coalition partner used to slow down the process, otherwise it could have been done earlier,” he said.
He said the BJP will continue its efforts to ensure all-round development in the three regions of the state.
The party was also making efforts to ensure reservation for the Pahari speaking people and divisional status for the region of Ladakh, Madhav said.
“We are making a demand to the governor administration to grant reservation to the Pahari people, who are mostly residing in Jammu, and the divisional status to Ladakh before the prime minister’s visit to the state,” he said.
He asked party leaders and workers to work hard for to make Modi’s visit successful.

 
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Lethpora attack: UN urges India, Pak to defuse tensions

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Geneva, Feb 20: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and offered to mediate in the face of rising tensions following the attack at Lethpora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 49 CRPF troopers.

Guterres, through a spokesman, said that the UN is deeply concerned about the situation while offering to mediate if the two parties request it.

The head of the UN received on Wednesday the Pakistani ambassador, Maleeha Lodhi, whose government has asked the organization to intervene in the current crisis, Efe reported.

 

For now, Guterres calls on both sides to “exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps” to defuse the tension, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

The historic tensions between the two nuclear nations skyrocketed in recent days after New Delhi accused Islamabad of supporting the militant group that killed 49 CRPF troopers in a suicide bombing with a vehicle loaded with explosives on February 14, the deadliest attack in the region in 30 years.

In addition, nine people, including four army soldiers, a cop, and a civilian were killed in a gunfight again in Pulwama on February 18.

Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), said the UN was also saddened by the further loss of life reported from the gun battles in Pulwama on February 18.

“We hope escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours will not add further to the insecurity in the region” he said.

Colville said the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, is also concerned about reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities living in different parts of India.

“We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” he stressed.

Following the February 14 attack, India announced that it will take all possible diplomatic measures to isolate Pakistan from the international community.

UN asks additional escorts for military observers:

After one of its vehicles was stopped by a group of protesters in Jammu, the UN has asked the Indian government for additional escorts for its military observers in Kashmir.

“The observer group reported on February 16 that a UN vehicle in the city of Jammu was surrounded by a group of protesters who placed a Pakistan flag in front of the vehicle. The vehicle attempted to bypass the flag but was unable to do so,” Dujarric told the media on Tuesday.

He said the circumstances of the incident was “regrettable and unavoidable” and that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had informed the governments of both countries.

“The Mission also requested India to provide additional escorts and will be conducting an investigation,” he added.
The 44-member UNMOGIP, now led by Uruguayan Major General Jose Eladio Alcain, began operations in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir following up a Security Council resolution the previous year.

India maintains that UNMOGIP has become redundant because under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue with no role for third parties. (With IANS inputs)

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Govt downgrades, withdraws ‘security’ of 18 separatists, 155 others

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Jammu, Feb. 20: In a major step on Wednesday, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir downgraded and withdrew the security of 18 Hurriyat leaders in the state.

According to the spokesperson of Home Department, it was felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is “wastage of scarce state resources which could be better utilised elsewhere”.

“Among the leaders whose security has been downgraded and withdrawn are SAS Geelani, Aga Syed Mosvi, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Yaseen Malik, Saleem Geelani, Shahid ul Islam, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Aga Syed Abul Hussain, Abdul Gani Shah and Mohd Musadiq Bhat,” a government handout said.

 

This is in addition the 4 persons whose security was withdrawn on Sunday.

In addition, the handout said the security of 155 political persons and activists, who did not require the security provided to them based on their threat assessment and their activities, was also withdrawn. This includes Shah Faesal, who resigned from the IAS and PDP member Waheed Parra.

“Through this, over 1000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work,” the handout said.

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Reservation to EWS: Guv welcomes central law’s extension to JK

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Jammu, Feb 20: Governor Satya Pal Malik has welcomed the decision of the Union Cabinet regarding giving reservations in admission in educational institutions, for appointments and posts in favour of economically weaker sections of the citizens and giving benefit of promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

“The reservation to the economically weaker sections of the citizens will be in addition to existing reservation and subject to maximum of 10 percent of totals seats/posts,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.

It is pertinent to mention that the Constitution (Seventy Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 provides for giving benefit of promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 provides for giving reservations in admission in educational institutions and for appointments and posts in favour of economically weaker sections of the citizens.

 

“Both these amendments in the Constitution of India were not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir in the present form. The Union Cabinet’s approval to the extension of these amendments will enable providing of 10 % reservation in admission in educational institutions and for appointments and posts in favour of the economically weaker sections of the citizens,” the spokesperson said.

He added that the move will also give powers to the State for making provisions for reservation in the matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Governor, the spokesperson added, has described these decisions as having far reaching consequences in helping to ameliorate the lot of the weaker sections of society and in ensuring their economic progress and prosperity.

SAC to meet tomorrow

Srinagar, Feb 20: The J&K State Administrative Council (SAC) will meet under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan Jammu on 22 February.
This is likely going to be last SAC meeting before Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for General Elections-2019 comes into force.

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