News Notes

Sheltering ORPHANS

baitulhilal-j&K-yateem-foundation-srinagarJAMMU and Kashmir Yateem Foundation (JKYF) last week dedicated an orphanage, Bait-ul-Hilal to the people of South Kashmir at Chawalgam village in Kulgam. The orphanage is the first phase of Al Hilal Residential Educational Institute Bait-ul-Hilal, which is expected to cover 20 kanals of land.

The construction of the four storey building was started in 2007 and was completed in 2012. Bait-ul-Hilal has been designed in a way to accommodate modern features of a residential building.

The first three storeys of an orphanage are meant to house orphans and the fourth storey has been dedicated for conducting public meetings. Each storey has six big halls, two dormitories that will house orphans and separate lavatory blocks. The office and the catering hall are located on the ground floor, while dormitories are kept upstairs.

The building has a capacity of 200 students, but presently, 40 orphans are residing there. The catering hall has the capacity of over 100 students. Besides, the lawn of the orphanage is well-maintained and eco-friendly.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 1.07 crore, which Yateem Foundation raised through individual donations, the building has all the modern facilities for orphans. “The work on the building was completely done under the supervision of JKYF,” Er Syed Abdul Hamid, Patron JKYF, said.

Significantly, JKYF is working across Jammu and Kashmir to help orphans, widows and destitute people to rebuild their lives and become self dependent.

It organizes various awareness programmes in schools, colleges, universities about the state of orphans in Kashmir. Such programmes help JKYF raise funds which they then distribute among widows under various self-help modules.

At the inaugural function of Bait-ul Hilal (Orphanage), speakers called for reservations for orphans in educational, technical & professional institutions on the pattern of SCs/STs and other backward classes so that they could avail the opportunities for better future.

It is better if different orphanages operating in Kashmir come under a single umbrella and work together for a common cause, said one of the speakers.

JKYF claims that these orphanages are not private properties so everything is done in a transparent manner.

‘Shady’ ACT!

Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani

THE recent visit of D Subbarao, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to Kashmir ran in rough weather over the possibility of implementation of SARFAESI Act (Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where Article 370 is in vogue.

Subbarao mentioned the Act in a special committee meeting of all the banks working in Jammu and Kashmir organised by central bank. “Bankers said enough credit avenues are not available to them in the state and that the SARFAESI Act is not applicable in the state,” he was quoted saying.

The SARFAESI Act empowers banks to dispose off assets of defaulting borrowers to recover loans from them without having to go through the time-consuming process of invoking such securities through a court of law.

“As far as the SARFAESI Act is concerned, the chief minister Omar Abdullah has said it will be enacted shortly in the state either in the assembly or through an ordinance,” said Subbarao.

He reiterated during the bankers meet that no collateral security by way of mortgage should be taken by the banks up to loans of Rs 10 lakh. “Banks have been asked to cover all the 5,800 villages with population less than 2,000 in the state through financial inclusion by the end of this fiscal,” he said.

Meanwhile, sensing scandal, the separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani lashed-out at local administration for their “deceptive and selfish approach” and rejected the proposal for implementation of SARFAESI Act as suggested by the RBI.

“The Act is aimed at to provide one more unconstitutional entry for those outsiders who intend to occupy the estates through illegal means,” Geelani said, adding, “this ordinance would pave way for the authorities to seize the properties of borrowers, bank defaulters and will go into the hands of outsiders through the proposed auction.”

The separatist leader said that though the article 370 guarantees the special status for state and the article says that no property or land shall go to the people residing outside state through sale deed and auction but the said proposal of RBI will pave way for the transfer of property and land.

“It would have disastrous impact over the political status of state,” Geelani warned, while lamenting the role played by the local political parties. “They (government) have always acted against the wishes of people for their vested interests,” said Geelani.

Noorani’s OUTPOURINGS

AG-NooraniIT was the day when the largest circulated newspaper of Kashmir, Greater Kashmir was celebrating its silver jubilee. Much to the surprise of high profile audience present at the function, especially incumbent state cabinet ministers, noted author and legal luminary, A G Noorani alleged that 2008 Assembly elections were rigged by security agencies in Srinagar.

“Security played a role in Srinagar constituencies,” Noorani told audience, adding, “Kashmiris should have right to demand what they want. Under the Indian Constitution, future of Kashmir is yet to be determined. There is a provision in Article 253 which says that no decision should be taken regarding disposition of Kashmir without the consent of State Assembly.”

Noorani claimed that Kashmir issue would have been settled had Muhammad Ali Jinnah accepted the proposal of Lord Mountbatten on November 1, 1947.

“On that day, at Government House Lahore, Mountbatten gave a written proposal that called for plebiscite in Hyderabad, Junagarh and J&K,” Noorani said. “The three states had become a bone of contention between India and Pakistan and Mountbatten was then the Governor General of Dominion of India.”

He went on to say: “Indian Army had already landed in Kashmir. Mountbatten’s proposal was that wherever ruler’s religion differed from that of the majority of people, plebiscite should be held. But Jinnah urged for excluding Hyderabad from the plan.”

Noorani said that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was concerned about happenings in Kashmir. “He suffered as he wasn’t in favour of accession to India. He sent two emissaries to Pakistan- Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad and GM Sadiq. But nobody met them,” he said.

Noorani said, “When the tribal raid occurred, Sheikh was in a fix. But within weeks (of acceding to India), Sheikh Sahib had second thoughts. Even Pakistan has given it up. I don’t agree with plebiscite. People should try and unite for four-point formula. They should not rely on British or Americans as these countries will always side with India, but Kashmiris should present their case before the world,” he said.

However, his outpourings came under sharp criticism. The separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani blamed Noorani, for his “deliberate attempt to tarnish factual events” with respect to history and Kashmir dispute.

Bunkers REMOVED

newsnotes-Bunker-removedTHE state government this week informed that 54 static bunkers have been removed from Srinagar city during the last one year in view of nearly 36 per cent decline in violence in the state in 2012 as compared to previous year.

This information was given out at a consultative committee meeting of the departments headed by chief minister Omar Abdullah. “There has been decline in terrorist-related violence by 36 per cent during the year 2012 as compared to the year 2011,” the spokesman said.

He said 54 static bunkers have been removed from public places in Srinagar. Besides various government and private buildings which were under CRPF or Army occupation, were vacated and restored for their original purposes.

Under the amnesty scheme, devised for youth involved in stone-pelting, the orders to the withdrawal of 196 cases involving 1,432 people have been issued by the government.

“Nearly 86 per cent of the 1,84,330 cases received during last three years for issuance of passports have been cleared till March 14, 2013,” he said.

However, the removal of bunkers in Srinagar dated back to December 2010. The step was then seen as Omar Abdullah’s efforts to reduce the footprints of the government forces in summer capital Srinagar. In March 2011, Abdullah-led Jammu and Kashmir government removed 12 more paramilitary bunkers from the city.

“It is a continuing process and more paramilitary bunkers would be removed in the days to come depending upon the improvement in the overall law and order situation here,” a senior police official was quoted saying.

Illegal ERECTIONS!

IT appears Kashmir is in firm grip of illegal constructions, much to the mockery of the Master Plan. Recently, Governor NN Vohra chided the state government for its failure to check mushrooming of unplanned and illegal constructions.

Vohra said state government should initiate immediate measures to check the menace of illegal constructions to save the Valley from further destruction.

“During my recent visit to Sonamarg, I was shocked to see number of concrete structures coming up near water bodies and rivers. If the authorities don’t act immediately to check the menace of illegal constructions, Kashmir will soon turn into a concrete jungle,” Vohra said.

He said the illegal constructions are not only detrimental for planned growth, but also prove disastrous for the environment. “Such constructions create problems regarding waste disposal and will further add to the pollution of water bodies,” he said.

He suggested to Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Minister for Tourism, to authorize expansion of tourism infrastructure only after finalizing Master Plans for various tourist destinations so that the natural beauty of the scenic spots is preserved and the environmental concerns also get appropriately addressed.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal dismissed an appeal against a demolition order of an illegal commercial complex at Karan Nagar here. The tribunal passed strictures against Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for allowing gross violation of the Master Plan in its vicinity.

Directing that action should be initiated against the officials, who have overlooked this major construction in the area, the tribunal said the five storey building has come up in violation of the norms in the Karan Nagar locality, a few hundred yards from SMC office.

Tourism GALA

newsnotes-kashmiri-haatAMIDST tourist rush in valley, Tourism department of J&K inaugurated fifteen day long ‘Kashmir Tourism Festival 2013’ at Srinagar’s Kashmir Haat and thus set the ball rolling!

The Festival was simultaneously thrown open at Zabarwan Park, Nehru Park, Sonamarg, Pahalgam and other tourism hotspots of Kashmir valley.

The inaugural function saw 38 Kashmiri participants present various cultural items. School children were also invited to attend the function.

“The main aim of the event is to hook the interest of the incoming tourists to the valley and boost the economy of the local artisans,” Shabir Ahmed, Program Director, said.

To make this festival vibrant, tourism department organized a Qawali programme where Aslam Sabri of Sabri Brothers fame entertained the guests at SKICC. The Governor of the state NN Vohra was the chief guest on the occassion.

Earlier, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, tourism minister, said that the government in collaboration with tour and travel stockholders would provide various sops to the tourists visiting Kashmir during Kashmir Tourism Festival.

Tourism minister, Mir, promised tourists two weeks of festivity and fun in Kashmir which he said is part of the festival. “Air India would provide 20 percent air fare concession to those tourists who visit Valley during festive days. The hoteliers of the Valley have also announced 20 percent concession on lodging and boarding of the tourists during this fortnight,” said Mir.

In order to promote less known tourist destinations, tourism department is planning to take tour and travel operators and media men to different tourist spots in Kashmir.

Tourism department is desperate to present Kashmir as a must visit destination in World. The illumination of Jhelum river cruise, river ghats and Peerzoo Island, besides Shikara track from Peerzoo Island to Chattabal Veer would be undertaken during the festival.

The minister said that the festival would also showcase culture of Jammu & Kashmir through performances by the cultural troupes of the state.

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