By Mudassir Kuloo
SRINAGAR: Hitting out at Pakistan and separatists for trying to “destabilise” Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, on Thursday said New Delhi won’t allow any obstacle” to come in the way of its mission to ensure lasting peace in the state.
Addressing a press conference at SKICC here after arrived on his two-day visit to the state, Singh said “Government has a lot of love for the state and the Centre has decided to withdraw cases against those misled into stone pelting.”
He said that youth picking up the guns and stones was a “cause of concern” for the government.
“I would like to repeat that no matter how many obstacles come in our way, we will not be deterred in our aim to bring lasting peace to Kashmir,” he said.
He appealed to the youth not to tread the path of “destruction” and said the Centre and the state government had initiated several schemes to help them secure their future.
Speaking on the Centre’s decision to withdraw cases against the youth of the state who had indulged in stone pelting, the Union Home Minister said this decision was taken keeping in mind the welfare of “innocent youth who were misguided into indulging in acts of stone pelting”.
The Union home ministry late last year had ordered to withdraw cases against youths involved in stone pelting.
He was flanked by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Deputy Chief Minister Kavindar Gupta, MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh and Union Home Secretary.
“There is extreme love in the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Jammu and Kashmir. It is our responsibility to provide a secure future to the youth of the state and it can be done with the power of education and miracle of sports,” he said in his address at Indoor Stadium Srinagar.
Referring to separatists, he said that peace in Kashmir Valley is being disrupted by elements misleading and provoking the youth. “They (separatists) can play any kind of politics, but they should not play with the future of children. These children are not only the children of Kashmir, but also of India, they are an asset,” he said.
“Giving your children the best of education and handing out stones to the children of others? What is this? I always felt there is a lot of talent in the youth here, IAS, IIM etc results are a proof. Youth are being misguided by certain forces,” he said.
He said the central government intended to open a dialogue in Kashmir and therefore appointed its Special Representative Dineshwar Sharma who visited the state 11 times since he was given the assignment in October last year.
“He doesn’t come here on tourist trips. He meets the people of the state to find solutions to their problems. I am sticking to what I said on my first visit to Kashmir (as Home Minister) that we want talks with every section of the society to resolve their problems.”
Saying that the government is open for talks, he said, “We are open to dialogue with all, you don’t need to be like-minded to talk, but you do need to be right-minded.”
He claimed that in spite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ceasefire announcement, Pakistan “continues to violate the ceasefire”.
Praising the armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police, he said, “I have no hesitation in saying that our security forces, including the army and police, have worked with utmost restraint.”
He claimed that some forces wanted to destabilize the Indian, which has world’s fastest economy.
He said that all important religions exist in India. “In no Islamic country you will found all 72 sects unlike in India.”
He recalled former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s approach of insaniyat (humanity), jumhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (eclectic culture) said, “Those who pick up guns cannot be said to be believers of democracy.”
“Kashmiriyat includes both Hazratbal (the Srinagar Muslim shrine that houses the relic of Prophet) and Amarnath (the Hindu hill shrine in south Kashmir). (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi said from the Red Fort that the problem of Kashmir can be solved by embracing Kashmiris and not by abusing them.”
The Home Minister said the issue of extending or calling off the ceasefire would be discussed with the Chief Minister before taking a final call. “Nothing can be ruled out,” he said.
He also said that government was strengthening the police force in JK.
Lauding the state government for carrying out works for improving the sports infrastructure, the Home Minister said funds will not be a problem for promoting sports in Jammu and Kashmir. “Funds will be provided for promotion of water sports at Mansar and Pahalgam. Funds will be arranged for development of sports infrastructure,” he said. “With the help of the Jammu and Kashmir government, we will change the face and destiny of the state,” Singh added.
LS Polls 2019:Exit polls predict comfortable win for Modi-led NDA
New Delhi, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance government is likely to return to power after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed.
NDTV’s poll of polls said the NDA would get 302 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 127 seats and other parties (Others) 114 seats.
The Republic TV exit poll gave the NDA 305 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 124 and others 120. Times Now exit poll gave the BJP alliance 306 seats, the UPA 132 seats and Others 104.
News Nation gave the NDA between 282 to 290 seats, the UPA between 118 and 126 seats and Others 130 to 138 seats. Sudarshan News gave the NDA 313 seats, UPA 121 seats and Others 109+.
Analysts see the election as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch in trying to win votes by projecting a tough stance against Pakistan, especially after a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir.
He has also spoken about a Rs 75,000-crore income support scheme for farmers, toilets built as part of the national cleanliness campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, rural electrification scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and cooking gas scheme for the poor Ujjwala Yojana.
The Congress and other Opposition parties are challenging the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over unemployment and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has also accused Modi of corruption in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France.
Voter turnout in the first six rounds was approximately 66 per cent, according to the Election Commission, compared with 66.40 per cent in the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
Voting has largely been peaceful but for sporadic violence in West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to wrest seats from Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee’s All India Trinamool Congress.
In a drastic and unprecedented action, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning by a day in West Bengal on Thursday, after days of clashes in the final stretch of the election.
Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in the 543-seat Parliament. The BJP, which won a majority of 282 seats in 2014, may need some regional parties as allies to stay in power.
The BJP will need to do well in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the most in a state. The party had won 71 of them in 2014, but this time it has been challenged by a coalition between the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The voting on Sunday covers 59 seats in eight states and Union Territories. It also includes Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, where he had won in 2014.
Votes cast in the seven phases of elections will be counted on May 23.
New dispensation in Delhi has to address Kashmir issue: Mirwaiz
Srinagar, May 19: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday said that Hurriyat leadership was ready to support talks between India and Pakistan provided India accepted Kashmir as a dispute.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Hurriyat Conference here, he said, “We are not against either the people of India or development. If India and Pakistan initiate a dialogue, we are ready to support it, but India must first accept the basic reality that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute”.
He said the Hurriyat Conference was against India’s policies which were presently being implemented in Kashmir.
“It is unfortunate that New Delhi has choked all means of peaceful protest in the Valley. Even pro-freedom leaders are not allowed to meet the people. How can ideas come up if all spaces are choked,” he asked.
Mirwaiz further said that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had realised that the only possible solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found through a dialogue process.
He also demanded that the Indian government should withdraw the bans imposed on different organisations in Kashmir.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the present prevailing situation in Kashmir as sensitive and painful stating that there is no letup in the policies of repression and intimidations as killings, harassment and CASOs continue unabated even in this holy month of Ramadhan.
He said there were apprehensions whether the authorities would allow the seminar as last year, the then government had barred it and caged entire Hurriyat leadership. Mirwaiz said that the repressive measures are being taken to suppress the genuine voices of people of Kashmir.
Mirwaiz said that he was feeling the pain whenever any youth is martyred in government forces action or in encounters stating that that it was beyond doubt that the gun-wielding local boys were the products of the ongoing oppression and they are getting consumed in the ongoing unresolved conflict. He said emotions and repressions is driving the educated youth of Kashmir towards armed means of resistance as every scope for raising voices peacefully stand chocked.
Touted as game-changer, ambitious e-governance SWAN project yet to take off even after 13 years
Srinagar, May 19: Thirteen years on, the ambitious State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project is yet to see the light of the day in Jammu and Kashmir.
The 2005 Government of India project was aimed to synchronize all official departments of a given state through a dedicated internet connection in a closed used group. Thirteen years after the approval, the project is yet to be completed.
The government has now appointed a four member committee to conduct a thorough probe into the irregularities and lack of progress in implementation of SWAN project. Headed by Principal Secretary Transport Department, the four member committee includes Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Department, and Secretary Higher Education. The fact finding panel have been asked to submit the report by June 6.
Project Manager, Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency, Irfan Ahmad and Public Information Officer, Imran-ul-Sofi pleaded ignorance about the status of the project. Instead of divulging details, both officers asked to contact Financial Commissioner, Information Technology, Suresh Kumar.
Kumar however could not be contacted for the comments. Additional Secretary Information Technology Vaibhav Kohli passed the buck to project managers. “You ask project managers about the same,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) functions under the Information Technology. As per the details available on its website, the SWAN project is a major core infrastructure project under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).
The project, if implemented, was expected to provide connectivity to the two state headquarters (SHQ), 20 District Headquarters (DHQ), and 152 block headquarters (BHQ) with a minimum internet speed of 2 megabytes per second.
Further, the network would have connected all state and designated government offices located within a 15 kms radius of the SHQ, all state and other designated offices located within 10 kms of each DHQ), and all state and other designated offices located within five kms of each BHQ.
In 2009, the then government had prepared a Draft Proposal Report (DPR) for Rs 106.57 crores for implementing SWAN in the state and forwarded the same to Ministry of Information Technology Government of India. The tenders were floated four different times until March 2014 but all of them were cancelled since bids received for creating SWAN were apparently high.
SWAN would have substantially reduced the overall time taken in completing administrative tasks by providing converged communications services (voice, data and video) accessible to all government departments. “It would have reduced unnecessary movement of vehicles, employees and documents”, said an official.