Srinagar, Apr 10: A man required an approval from a magistrate to simply cross the road in Sangam, a settlement in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, on Wednesday, the second day of the two-day-a-week ban authorities last week imposed on civilian movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
The photo of the civilian’s right-hand palm carrying the stamp, signature and Wednesday’s date with a note ‘Allow to Sangam’ soon went viral on social media drawing huge criticism and ridicule.
A Naib Tehsildar, who was one among the 25 officers designated by the district administration last week to regulate traffic on several crossings on the highway during the banned days, told The Kashmir Monitor that he had to stamp the man on his hand since he (officer) had “run out of passes.”
The man, the officer said, was a local and needed the permission to cross the highway.
The viral photograph gathered a lot of social media attention.
“This is how permission is granted to people in J&K to use their highway. Their hands are being stamped & written on. I don’t know what to say! Should we be flippant & mock the attempt at saving paper? I’m just angry at the degrading, inhuman treatment being meted out to people,” tweeted Former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.
“There was a time when employment orders were issued on a pack of cigarettes and there is a time when Highway pass is issued in this way….#KashmirTragedy. Hope the stamp is not washed away before reaching the destination,” read a post by one Facebook user.
“A civilian granted permission to drive from home to office on the Kashmir highway. The highway magistrate stamp is only valid till next hand wash! It reminds me of a movie from Hitler’s era,” tweeted journalist Peerzada Ashiq.
The viral photograph was also picked by Conde Nast Traveller, an international travel magazine, which posted on their website and wrote about the recent Highway ban in Kashmir.
“Anyone who wants to get on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Sunday or Wednesday now needs a permission from the administration. And if that piece of official paper isn’t available, they may have to bear the proof of access on their body,” read the opening paragraph of the article by Conde Nast.
Last week, the J&K government notified two dedicated days in a week (Sundays and Wednesdays) exclusively for movement of government forces’ convoys on the highway while ordering a complete ban on civilian traffic during the days on the Highway. The order will remain in force till May 31.
Trump offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House where the two leaders discussed a host of issues.
India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.
“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.
Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask for it.
“I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be….we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can’t solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” Trump said.
“We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India… (it’s) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It’s something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both,” Trump told Khan.
Khan, who was sitting by Trump’s side in the Oval Office of the White House, said that he is ready and welcomed such a move by the US.
“Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir),” Khan told Trump.
Khan was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.
Corrupt praying elections to escape ACB: Guv Malik
Says militant remark ‘made in frustration’; calls Omar ‘political juvenile’
Srinagar, Jul 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik Monday said that the political parties in Kashmir want immediate elections to “save” themselves from the ongoing action against corruption.
“Political parties and their leaders want immediate assembly polls to escape from investigations. The ACB is close on their heels. These politicians are involved in misappropriation of funds in various schemes. There will be zero tolerance against corruption,” the Governor said while speaking to media on Monday.
He expressed regret over his remark that militants should stop killing innocent people and target the corrupt, saying it was made in a “fit of anger and frustration”.
On Sunday, Malik stoked controversy during his address at a function in Kargil.
“These boys who have picked up guns are killing their own people, they are killing PSOs (personal security officer) and SPOs (special police officers). Why are you killing them? Kill those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir. Have you killed any of them?” Malik had asked.
Day later, the Governor, however, said that he should not have made the comment as constitutional head of the state, but it did reflect his feelings and he will say the same thing when he is not governor.
“As Governor, I should not have made such a statement but my personal feeling is same what I said. Had I not been Governor, I would have no regret for giving such statement,” Malik told the media.
“What I said was my frustration and anger as I have seen huge corruption in Kashmir for the last one year. Otherwise, I know militants will be ultimately defeated,” the Governor added.
Reacting strongly to the Governor’s comments in Kargil, former chief minister, Omar Abdullah had tweeted: “Save this tweet – after today any mainstream politician or serving/retired bureaucrat killed in J&K has been murdered on the express orders of the Governor of J&K Satya Pal Malik.”
Omar said the governor should check out his own reputation in Delhi before sanctioning unlawful killings.
“This man, ostensibly a responsible man occupying a constitutional position, tells militants to kill politicians perceived to be corrupt. Perhaps the man should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings & kangaroo courts,” he said.
Reacting to Omar’s criticism, the Governor called him a “political juvenile”.
“He is tweeting on every issue and media carry them. But media does not carry the comments on his statement. 90 percent people abuse him for his statements,” the Governor said.
Malik said he was appointed Governor because of his reputation.
“I did nothing wrong in my 50 year career. People know whether I did anything wrong. Wherever Omar Abdullah is at present is because of his reputation. He is speaking on every issue in a childish way. I had regards for Omar,” he said.
The Governor said families that have ruled Kashmir have accumulated huge wealth.
“Their grandparents were teachers but they have properties across the world. Their three generations have accumulated huge wealth. They have one house in Srinagar, one in Delhi, Dubai, one in London and elsewhere. They are shareholders in big hotels.”
Asked whether two prominent political families, Abdullahs and Muftis were also involved in corruption, he replied: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating and whosoever is involved in corruption has to face the punishment. One of the former ministers has been grilled. Few more former ministers will also be investigated. We won’t spare anyone irrespective of how powerful they are.”
Power theft costs JK 4000 cr a year
Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir suffers a huge loss of around 4,000 crore every year due to power theft.
The department is unable to overcome the huge losses despite the fact that they have installed power meters to tackle pilferage.
An official in the Power Development Department (PDD) said that the deficit of Rs 275 crore in 2002-03 grew to Rs 2,976 crore during 2014-15 and to 4,000 crores in 2018.
The economic survey of 2017 blamed the revenue deficit on “high power thefts, illegal uses, unregistered consumers, uncontrolled and unaccounted consumption of power, lesser load agreements, low tariff rates, and poor collection efficiency.”
“We are losing Rs 4000 crore every year on power purchase bill. Last year we purchased power for 6200 crores and we collected only 2200 crores so the total lose we suffered is 4000 crore,” Hashmat Qazi, Chief Engineer PDD told The Kashmir Monitor.
The major reason for losses, he said, is the power theft.
“We lose maximum power due to the illegal usage by the people here. Despite installing meters, people find ways to breach them and use as much electricity as they can,” Qazi noted.
Qazi informed that to overcome the losses, there are many Government of India schemes including ‘Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform program’ (R-APDRP) which will upgrade the infrastructure including installation of Aerial Bunched Cable (ABC) which will restrict power theft by hooking.
“This is Rs 1660 crore plan which is being funded by the Government of India and comprises of 30 towns that have more than ten thousand population,” said Qazi.
“Another scheme is Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) which comprises of 81 small towns, having a population more than four thousand. Apart from these two schemes, there is another scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for distribution of electricity in rural areas,” he added.