The recent visit of Union Home Secretary R K Singh to Kashmir is being seen as a significant one as it comes before his scheduled two day visit to Islamabad on May 24.
He will be speaking to his Pakistani counterpart and discuss many things including Confidence Building Measures (CBMs and steps required to boost trade on two cross-LoC points in Jammu and Kashmir and Wagah International Border in Amritsar district of Punjab.
Before coming to Kashmir, Singh, also visited Wagah border to acquaint himself with the problems faced by the traders and steps needed to boost the trade between the two countries.
He met both Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Governor NN Vohra, separately in Srinagar. He discussed the internal security scenario and arrangements for Amarnath yatra, border management, partial revocation of Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA), recommendations of the Interlocutors and Rehabilitation policy for the militants.
Singh also had dinner with the Governor Vohra which lasted more than an hour at Raj Bhawan. The arrangements made for annual Amarnath Pilgrimage beginning on June 25 were also discussed. The union home ministry has agreed to provide 74 additional companies of paramilitary for deployment during the yatra.
The Chief Minster during his meeting with the Home Secretary raised the issues of partial revocation of AFSPA from Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Srinagar and Budgam districts. While the Governor gave his perception on the demand, Omar Abdullah stressed for revocation of the Act.
Sources said the Chief Minister also touched almost the similar issues like removal of some CRPF bunkers from Srinagar City, partial withdrawal of AFSPA and Rehabilitation Policy with the Home Secretary.
The home secretary also visited Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad, the two points were cross-LoC trade is allowed on fixed of the week. The traders associations at the two places met Singh and submitted a memorandum. They are demanding easing out restrictions and facilitating the barter trade so that the volumes can grow. Will Home Secretary Singh take up these suggestions with his Pakistani counterpart?
Defence Land SCAM
The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) last week conducted raids in Jammu, Ambala, Patna and New Delhi in connection with multi-crore Defence land scam near Srinagar Airport and seized documents pertaining to issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the then Defence Estates Office of the Ministry of Defence, Srinagar for sale of military land.
The CBI team headed by Dy SP Sandeep Choudhary, conducted raids at the residence of Vijay Kumar, SDO-I Rajouri, then posted in Defence Estate Office at Srinagar. The investigating agency is scrutinizing seized documents, bank accounts and pen drive of the official.
The CBI also raided residence of Ajay Chowdhary, a 1997 batch Defence Estate Official at Ambala in Haryana and seized documents. Residences of other officials, who were posted in Defence Estate Office at Srinagar at the time of issuance of NOC of military land measuring over 200 acres to property dealers and local people for raising constructions were also searched.
The CBI had conducted raids after registering FIR No. 7/2012 at its New Delhi branch. The FIR has been registered under Sections 120 and 420 RPC read with Section 5 (1) (D) further read with 5 (2) Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI claims to have found that more than 70 NOCs were issued by the Defence Estates Department in Srinagar. These NOCs were issued to private parties to buy more than 200 acres of land near high-security military installations in Srinagar.
Defense land scam near Srinagar International Airport might touch over Rs 800 crore as investigations revealed that NOC for raising constructions over military land had been issued by the then Defence Estates Office involving nearly 1600 kanals of prime land.
The well knit conspiracy appeared to have been hatched by the Defence Estate Officials, Revenue officials of the State Government, property dealers and some private persons to convert Defence land into commercial or private land and dispose it off. As the land was located at prime place near the Srinagar International Airport, money worth several crores was reported to have exchanged hands for issuance of NOCs for conversion of title of land from military to civil, sources said.
The agency had registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the matter last year during which it claimed to have found evidences that NOCs were granted to private persons for this prime and strategic piece of land arbitrarily. The PE has been converted into regular FIR.
It was an embarrassing movement for the Vice-Chancellor of the Kashmir university during a three-day international seminar on “Impact of Peace, Conflict and Disturbances on Economic Development Processes” when most of the students did not stand up when the national anthem was sung in the university auditorium.
Governor Narendra Nath Vohra, who is also the Chancellor of the university has raised concern as some students and, apparently, a section of officials too remained seated during the singing of national anthem.
It was all the more embarrassing for Governor Vohra, a former Union home secretary, as top academics from outside the state were part of the audience.
Sources in the university said Vohra took up the issue with vice-chancellor Talat Ahmad as this wasn’t the first time students had shown disrespect to the anthem.
Vice-chancellor Ahmad, too, expressed concern but said he could not use force to discipline students.
In October last year, students had hooted while the anthem was being played at the university during a seminar. Vohra was present then, too.
Later a meeting of the Head of the Departments was held and Vice Chancellor asked them to ensure that such disrespect did not occur in future. The HODs’ told the VC that they have no control over the students.
Earlier during his address Governor NN Vohra, said that sustained peace, normalcy and stability are vital pre-requisites for securing sustained human development and economic growth of the State.
The Governor, as Chief Guest, inaugurated the 3-day International Seminar that was organised by the Post-Graduate Department of Economics, University of Kashmir, in collaboration with the Indian Economic Association.
The Governor said that, fortunately, the situation has been improving and the State is moving towards sustained peace and normalcy, adding that youth have an extremely important role to play in strengthening the processes of peace.
Now medical care would be available inside the Dal Lake. The state government has started a floating healthcare unit for the people living in and around the Dal Lake.
Two Shikaras (boats) equipped with medicines and other diagnostic equipments will be pressed into service with three doctors and paramedics, which will cover the entire Dal area and provide medical services to the needy, says the state Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma.
The floating medical unit was launched at Nehru Park. Earlier the Dal lake had the distinction of having a floating post office which operates from a house boat anchored at the banks of the lake.
However, the medical unit will be different for its mobility. The medical unit will be providing facilities such as general OPD, lab tests, immunisation, dental care, ante-natal, post-natal, neo-natal checkups besides awareness about various communicable diseases and their preventive measures. The medical unit can provide healthcare services at the doorsteps.