SRINAGAR: Offering his condolences to the families who lost their members in Kulgam, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed youth to avoid spots where the security agencies are busy in operations. He was speaking to the media after having a series of meeting in which he reviewed the security situation and the developmental scenario of the state, now governed by the governor Satya Pal Malik.
Singh, who was on a day-long visit to Kashmir, complemented the state administration for holding “peaceful” and “transparent” elections for the municipal bodies across the state. While the participation was better in Jammu, Ladakh, and some Kashmir district, Singh said it would have been better had more people participated in Kashmir.
“I have met the political parties and asked them to participate in the Panchayat polls,” Singh said, insisting he hopes they will participate. “The government has taken landmark initiative in the devolution of powers to the Panchayat bodies as part of the empowerment which is historic,” Singh said. “Every Panchayat will have the capacity to spend Rs 60-70 lakh a year for basic issues and this all be done by the Sarpanch.” This, he said, will help the people solve some of the local problems at their own levels.
Democracy, Singh said is India’s identity and there it is an only weapon and a way-out to issues complex things. “I talked to the political parties and I told them they must participate in the Jashn-e-Jamhooriyat,” Singh said. “I hope they will participate.” He said the people who do not believe in a democracy actually do not care for the people.
Insisting that India has emerged as an economic giant in last four years, the home minister said, on the global index, it has reached the level of six from nine and the target is to get into the top five world economies. This is the reason, he said, some countries are uncomfortable with this and are creating obstacles by supporting terrorism.
However, Singh was very happy with the improvement in the overall situation. He said the incidents of stone pelting have gone down and the inputs suggest that even militant recruitments have gone down in the last few months. He said the situation will improve further in the coming few months.
Home Minister said the interlocutor Daneshwar Sharma shall continue his efforts till the talks take place. He said he will not reveal anything about the efforts being done.
“We are willing to talk to anybody who wants to talk,” Singh said. “We have no problems in talking. Prime Minister broke the protocol and visited the family of the Pakistan Prime Minister but he did not respond positively. Talks and terrorism cannot go together.”
Singh made three announcements during his press conference. Dal Lake, he said, has been given Rs 350 crore and will be restored to its pristine glory. “The day Dal changes, Kashmir will change,” he said.
Delegations that have been frequently meeting the minister have been complaining about large-scale corruption. “The government has done some exercise and they will be announcing some honest measures very soon,” Singh said. “They have a plan at hand.”
Insisting that Kashmir has not developed, Singh said the government will do everything possible to ensure it manages it development deficit. He said a major road will be laid that will connect the border areas. He mentioned the names of Kargil, Drass, Machil, Keran, and Tangdar and said he has directed the creation of a DPR. However, he did offer any idea whether this will be one or the many roads. “It will be a good road,” he said.
On Kulgam, Singh said he was sad over the unfortunate incident and the loss of some youth and is offering heartfelt condolences to the family. “We know no amount can replace the lives that we lost but order a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families,” Sigh said. “I appeal the youth to avoid going to the spots where the security forces would be busy in operations.” When a reporter asked him about the trend of youth attempting to break the cordon and search operation, Home Minister said he has no view on this.
The minister said it will not be good for him to assess the loss and gain of the BJPDP government that fell early this year. “The people of the state will be in a better position to say what were the gains and losses of the last government,” Singh said.
Since the governor Satya Pal Malik has ruled out the possibility of any government formation in the state when a reporter asked about the assembly elections, Singh said: “Assembly polls will happen, Kabi Na Kabi.”
The Minister said the central government has made no effort to intervene in the constitution. He was responding to a question about Article 35A.
Singh had separate meetings with Omar Abdullah, NC’s Vice President and PDP president Ms Mehbooba Mufti.
Mehbooba Meets Rajnath
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti personally me the visiting Home minister Rajnath Singh. She has sought immediate restoration of a dialogue with Pakistan.
In her meeting with Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh here today, Mehbooba Mufti said good relations with Pakistan have a positive impact on the ground situation in the State and it also encourages reconciliation among stakeholders within the State which automatically results into decline in alienation levels of people, a statement issued by the party said. She reminded the Union Home Minister that in the past when the two countries were in the best of relations, Jammu and Kashmir not only witnessed an era of minimal violence but also reconciliation and peoples’ active participation in democratic and developmental processes.
“Expressing concern over the prevailing situation in the State, the PDP President also impressed upon the Union Home Minister to ensure that civilian killings and collateral damage during security operations are avoided at all costs,” the statement said. “She told Ranjnath Singh that she believed every civilian killing not only adds to the alienation level of people here but also pushes the democratic and developmental process in the State to the back burner.”
She asked the Union Home Minister to direct all the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and follow strictly the SoPs as laid down while dealing with the security situations in the State to ensure that civilian lives and property are not put to any risk in these operations.
NC Delegation Meeting
A delegation of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference met Union Home Minister Rajnath Sigh here at SKICC today and submitted a memorandum on party’s behalf.
The delegation registered deep anguish over the mounting human right violations, killings, maiming, destruction of property and growing disenchantment in youth that has become an order of the day, a spokesman of the party said.
The visiting delegation registered their anguish and concern over the unending cycle of killings particularly the recent killing of seven youth in Kulgam and other human right violations in the state. They apprised the home minister about the sense of insecurity and disenchantment that looms large in wake of the aggressive approach adopted by the Government of India.
The delegation apprised the home mister about the duress that people are subjected due to the excessive use of force, CASO, mass arrests, intermittent media and internet curbs, and rampant curfews.
The visiting leaders acquainted home minister about the mounting alienation in the south Kashmir areas that has prompted highly educated youth to join militant ranks.
NC delegation maintained that the solution to Kashmir problem can only be achieved through a process of dialogue and that the policy of looking at Kashmir issue through the prism of security will bring more misery to people. Delegation implored upon the union home minister to initiate an inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders in the state with all sincerity.
The delegation led by party General Secretary Haji Ali Muhammad Sagar included Additional General Secretary Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani, senior leaders Muhammad Shafi Uri, Mubarak Gul, Chief Spokesperson Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, Advisor to Omar Abdullah Tanveer Sadiq, North Zone president Muhammad Akbar lone, state secretary Sakina itoo and Central Secretary Mir Saifullah.
The Memorandum Text
NC has released the memorandum address to the home minister and signed by Ali Mohammad Sagar. The text is reproduced here:
“Jammu & Kashmir National Conference wishes to register its deep anguish, grief and grave concern over the unending cycle of killings, maiming and misery of people. Loss of precious lives and destruction of property, day in and day out in the Valley and along LoC and border areas of the state is alarming and unacceptable. The growing unrest and sense of insecurity and uncertainty among people particularly youth of the state is a matter that should shake all of us into finding a solution.
It is abundantly clear that the situation in State is going from bad to worse. What happened in Kulgam has shaken us to the core and it will not be wrong to say that all the right-thinking people across the country have expressed concern and regret over the barbaric killing of 7 youth there. The way State government and Government of India are dealing with the present situation in the state is shocking and alarming. It seems that the government is at war with its own people. There is total failure and mismanagement by the state government in dealing with the situation that has resulted in uncertainty, insecurity and confusion throughout the state, particularly in the Valley.
For the last more than four years, people of the state are witnessing the most uncertain, painful and chaotic situation. Excessive use of force, operation All Out, CASO, night raids, mass arrests, use of pellet guns, curbs on media and internet, the imposition of curfews across the Valley particularly in Srinagar city and south Kashmir areas, has become the order of the day. What is more distressing is the increase in the number of educated, well-qualified youth joining militant ranks. Apart from civilian killings, the number of mysterious and political killings have increased.
The recently concluded ULB polls witnessed a record low polling percentage of 4.5 per cent in the valley. Out of 598 wards in Kashmir, 231 wards witnessed no contest with candidates getting elected unopposed whereas no nomination papers were filed in 181 wards.
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference is of the firm opinion and belief that the solution to Kashmir problem lies only through a process of dialogue. The policy of looking at Kashmir through the prism of security has failed in past and bound to fail in future if persisted with, will bring more misery to the State.
We hope and pray that a sincere and honest process of dialogue is started forthwith which will help to de-escalate the present situation on the ground. We reiterate, with even firmer belief, that the State needs dialogue, and empathetic approach, not an iron fist.”