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Public Affairs
The Lone loser
Sajjad Lone may have considered the option of losing elections, but was unprepared for losing his face with his security deposit. Haroon Mirani looks at the ramifications of Lone’s loss on him and on the separatist camp.
A week after the results of parliament elections 2009 were out, separatist turned unionist, Sajjad Lone appears unable to come out of the shock – of his defeat. The media savvy politician with a flair for television chat shows is skipping media since.
Accused of fielding proxies in previous elections, some of whom won with his backing, Sajjad had to hide his face after losing his security deposit.
Last month when the reluctant separatist announced his foray into electoral politics, a confident Lone then had remarked that his defeat would be “only his own”.  He had justified what he called his “change of strategy” by the huge turnout of people in 2008 assembly elections.
Public Affairs
Leelakaran dumped
While election results in Kashmir were surprising, Jammu parliamentary constituency shocked one and all. But the underlying reasons are not hard to find. Majid Maqbool reports.
As Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) entered poll fray in 2008 assembly elections, the Amarnath land controversy had polarized voters in Jammu. The Hindutva card was the best this right wing party could have played. BJP played the card and grabbed 11 seats in J&K’s legislative assembly.
Leelekaran Sharma, who led the Amarnath Sanghrash Samiti during protests in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts of the state, entered Parliament election fray on a BJP ticket hoping to cash on the polarization once again. But the land controversy had already boiled down and Sharma was shooting his foot by joining politics.
Before the elections, Leelakaran had publicly announced that his mission was completely apolitical. By jumping into elections, he was actually making his intensions of a career in politics clear. This annoyed many voters who had earlier seen a selfless leader in Sharma.

Public Affairs
A fading trot
Hamidullah Dar

Once a popular mode of transport connecting cities and towns in the valley, the Tonga or horse-cart has lost its sheen over the years – mainly due to proliferation of automobiles and in part due to apathy of authorities
While in Srinagar the Tonga has bitten the dust, in suburbs and towns, the vintage mode is still available. A horse driving a cart with the whipping driver standing in front and at least five passengers on the seats is partly visible on the streets in suburbs.
Although government tried to remove the Tongas from roads in towns owing to their obstructive speed and unusual stoppage, instead deciding to compensate the Tonga drivers by providing them vehicle permits and monetary benefits, the drivers are hardly impressed.

Public Affairs
A long way to go
If occupancy is a criterion, Kashmir train service can be called a success, but limited runs by one train through stations poorly connected with main towns is more of an inconvenience than a facility. Hamidullah Dar reports.
Kashmir train service has proved economic for commuters when local transport fares are surging, but lack of facilities and proper connectivity to stations makes the travel long and cumbersome.
To 1500 passengers who use this train daily from Islamabad station to Srinagar and back, the journey gets upsetting once they step out of the train.
A ten rupee ticket for 50-kilometres seems a trifle but add five rupees from Islamabad station to main town and six rupees from Nowgam to Srinagar, it equals the bus fare for the journey. The buses, at least drop commuters in the city.

Public Affairs
A CBM Hijacked
Lured by waived custom duties, Delhi based traders are trying to infiltrate Cross LoC trade meant only for the two sides of Kashmir.  Hamidullah Dar reports.
 
The cross LoC trade in Jammu & Kashmir is experiencing a ‘hijack’ by traders from Delhi. That is at least what traders from Kashmir were contesting, forcing the custodian officer of Trade Facilitation Centre at Salamabad in Uri to send back 33 vehicles to Chakoti TFC on May 6.
The barter trade initiated between the two parts of Kashmir last year exempts traded goods from customs duty. Experts say that these tax concessions are luring the Delhi based traders to exploit the opportunity while keeping the locals at bay. 

Handicrafts
Recession is here

It was a blessing and a disgrace at the same time as the apparent insulation of J&K’s small economy from…

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