While welcoming talks between leaders of certain separatist groups of Kashmir and Islamabad, chief minister, Omar Abdullah emphasized similar dialogue between them and New Delhi adding that lopsided dialogue process would not yield any result.
“After returning from Pakistan they should also talk to Indian leadership. No one has put any condition for talks for them”, he said adding that separatists should put their agenda before the people and accordingly initiate dialogue with government of India unconditionally to work out solution to J&K centric political issues acceptable to all stakeholders.
Referring to the separatist group who boycott the recent talks, chief minister said it is a universal truth that militancy has achieved nothing and dialogue is only way forward to settle problems, the other separatist group should also get involved in talks to address complex issues for the good of general public and peace and prosperity in the state.
The chief minister was speaking at a function after inaugurating 76 metres long old heritage Zainakadal timber bridge on Thursday. The bridge was restored and made workable for pedestrian and light vehicles. The bridge came up at a cost of Rs 2.50 crores and later he also laid foundation of new bridge, new double lane bridge with 86 meters span, downstream Jhelum in Zainakadal area which will come up at an estimated cost of Rs. 8.92 crores for which Rs. 1.78 crores have been released to initiate the work.
Omar Abdullah said that peace is imperative for development and help generate wide-ranging economic activities and employment opportunities for people in general and youth in particular.
Describing Srinagar heart of Kashmir and Shahr-e-Khas (Old City) heart of Srinagar, Omar Abdullah said that the state has witnessed disturbance and militancy during the period of over 20 years marring avenues of economic prosperity, education, health, trade and day to day activities of life process. “Shahr-e-Khas has bore the severe brunt of this situation and its economy and development received heavy jolt”, he said adding that in order to pull this area out of the economic distress and open vistas of progress for all sections of the society in the area, his government has initiated various programs.
“We want to showcase the heritage, handicrafts and art and artisans of this area at international tourist map and rope in visitors from all over the country and aboard here”, he said adding that over 12 lakh visitors visited the Valley this year galvanizing the economy of a huge chunk of population dependent on tourism activities. “Rest Houses and Hoteliers in Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar and Upper Town have relished the economic benefits by the tourist flow”, he said and maintained that his government wants development of infrastructure and facilities in Shahr-e-Khas to attract direct flow of tourists to this place so that economic benefits of tourist industry are shared by the people of this area equally. He said Zainakadal, Maharaj Gunj and other areas in Shahr-e-Khas are known for heritage characteristic and there are shrines of renowned religious scholars and saints in this area which could be properly showcased for heritage and pilgrim tourism.
The Chief Minister said that while attention is being paid to improve, upgrade and widen roads in Srinagar equal focus is on rehabilitation of shopkeepers and others who are affected by infrastructural development. He said he has given categorical instructions to the development departments to take due care of paying compensation to the affected and ensure their rehabilitation.