by Tahir Bhat
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday announced a grant of amnesty against youth involved in various cases during the unrest of 2016 even as she appealed all shades of opinion in the State and the country to come forward and help in the getting the State out of present uncertainties and bloodshed.
The spokesman said Chief Minister directed the withdrawal of cases against 4327 youth recently and even constituted a committee to review the cases against youth registered during the unrest of 2016. “I am happy that we have decided to grant amnesty to them also, roughly making it to around nine thousand youth”, she announced in the House amidst applause.
Mehbooba Mufti said she has asked the Police to ensure that the local boys who have joined militant ranks should be helped to come back to their families and friends. “It’s my endeavour to bring them back and ensure no harassment to them. Many have come back but I regret the glorification of violence by some people on social media”, she told the House.
Terming dialogue as the only way ahead, the Chief Minister said the appointment of Mr Dineshwar Sharma, with the rank of Cabinet Secretary, as interlocutor last year was a major decision to undertake sustained dialogue in the State. She hoped that people from different shades of opinion would join the consultation process initiated by Mr Sharma and it moves ahead with positivity.
Clarifying some points raised by some opposition members in this regard, Mehbooba Mufti said the mandate given to him is clear and categorical. “He has been appointed to carry forward the dialogue process in the State in a sustained manner”, she said adding that the need of the hour is to get the State out of the vicious cycle of violence. She appealed all shades of opinion in the State and the Country to come forward and play their role in getting Jammu & Kashmir out of uncertainties and bloodshed.
Welcoming the reports of a recent meeting of National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, Mehbooba Mufti said she wishes normalisation of relations between the two countries adding that she wants the State to become a bridge of faith and trust between the two countries. She said Jammu & Kashmir has a strategic location which should be exploited for positive and gainful results. “Why can’t we be a gateway to Central Asia. We should be part of the Silk Route. Let us explore the opportunities of Tashkent, Kashgar, Iran etc. which have been the historic routes through which Islam came to Kashmir”, she said. “It was this tolerant Islam which groomed us to think on rational and humanitarian lines while deciding our fate in 1947. Let us go back to our routes”, she said.
For their social inclusion and integration, the Chief Minister said the pellet victims whose vision got impaired were given financial assistance and even the jobs. “Unfortunate, it should not have happened. We tried to rehabilitate them. We are still on it. Pellet victim Insha was given Gas agency to stand up on her feet”, she informed the House adding that these persons would be given special training in collaboration with a local institution so that they don’t have to depend on anybody for rest of their life.
The Chief Minister said to empower people at grass root levels, her Government intends to hold elections to panchayats and urban local bodies and put in place a three-tier governance apparatus in the State.
Rebutting strongly the charge of the opposition, the Chief Minister said a lot was done during the last three years by the Government but could not be highlighted because political scenario always dominates the scene in the State and the country. She said regularising the services of 60 thousand daily wagers was the largest public welfare step taken by any Government in recent times. “I am happy that they won’t have to go from pillar to post now onwards for releasing their remunerations. We have given them an honourable position, dignity and security though they were engaged by previous regimes”, the Chief Minister said while terming their regularisation as the mother of all welfare measures.
Mehbooba Mufti said she was happy to see that Leader of opposition praised the good work done by her Party during its rule from 2002-2005.
On the novel initiative of her conducting public outreach programmes at district headquarters, the Chief Minister said the aim was to know the difficulties of people of far-flung areas on spot and fix the same instant. She clarified that the local legislators were part of these programmes and many of the decisions she took were in response to the demands put forth by them. “No discrimination was made on political lines”, she clarified.
Mehbooba Mufti said, equally, the aim of her public outreaches was to spread the developmental initiative too far-flung and difficult areas rather than concentrating them in cities. “If a villager of Bounjwa, Marmot or Paddar does not get his half a kilometre road constructed or a health centre improved, I don’t think we are doing justice to them”, she asserted.
The Chief Minister said during these outreach programmes, she has noticed that though many field officers have a ready knowledge of activities in the field some officers do not visit their areas so frequently as should be. “We, the political executives, come and go but you (the officers) remain in the system for long”, she said while asking the field officers, particularly the DCs, to regularly visit their areas and get direct feedback from the people.
Sensing the requirements of labour class, who don’t have any job or life security, Mehbooba Mufti said the Government conceived a welfare scheme for around 3 lakh workers in unorganised sector in terms of accidental deaths, injuries or normal deaths. Also, the scheme envisages scholarships and educational incentives to the wards of these workers, she added. Similarly, she said, the widow pension was enhanced and even the scooty scheme for college girls has so picked up that the demand is coming from all across the State.
The Chief Minister said J&K Police which is on the forefront of managing the situation in the State had issues pending for long. The cadre review of Kashmir Police Service was undertaken, ex gratia amount for the cops was increased by three times, the backlog of SRO-43 of around 1000 cases was cleared and quotas for promotions in constabulary were earmarked for their timely career progression, she informed the House.
In the education sector, Mehbooba Mufti said, around 400 schools are being upgraded and Government schools are performing better which, she said, got displayed yesterday in the results of the 10th class examination. Government schools not only got more of their students passed but also in good percentages, she added.
The Chief Minister said Government is taking steps to provide as many jobs as possible to youth. She said more than 10 thousand vacancies were filled last year by the PSC and SSRB, 3000 positions of Rehbar i Khel have been carved out, 500 Rehbar I Janglats are being recruited besides the routine recruitments in the police. The major takeaway, the Chief Minister said, has been the transparency in these selections. “There has been no interference in these selections. All I have been impressing upon the recruiting agencies is to speed up the process and conclude the selections in time”, she said.
During her 55 minute address, the Chief Minister enumerated several developmental initiatives taken by her Government. She said two AIIMS and two Smart cities are being developed in the State, 87 model hospitals are being constructed, work is apace on five medical colleges for which staff of around 3500 has already been sanctioned.
The Chief Minister also dwelt in detail the major initiatives taken by Government in the fields of Agriculture, Horticulture, Health, Public Works, water supply, health and other areas.
Earlier, 30 members participated in the discussion on Motion of Thanks which was returned after the reply of the Chief Minister.
Legislators who took part in the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Governor’s address included Omar Abdullah Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, Daleep Parihar, Choudhary Qamar Hussain, Sat Paul Sharma, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Shah Muhammad Tantray, Rajeev Jasrotia, Raja Manzoor Ahmad, Nawan Rigzin Jora, Dina Nath Bhagat, Mubarak Gul, Abdul Rahim Rather, Usman Abdul Majid, Jeevan Lal, Firdous Shamim, Abdul Majid Padder, Main Altaf Ahmad, Vikar Rasool Wani, M Y Tarigami, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, Shakti Raj Parihar, Javid Hassan Beigh, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Er Abdul Rasheed, Yawar Ahmad Mir, Ravinder Raina, Anjum Fazili and R S Pathania.
Later, the House passed the motion of Thanks to Governor’s Address.