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Jammu: Farooq Abdullah attacks people calling him ‘Pakistani’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a scathing attack on those calling him “anti-national and Pakistani”, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said if the BJP-PDP coalition government “is not anti-national” for advocating talks with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat, how can he be given the label for doing the same.Farooq sought “meaningful dialogue” for ending political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir. “PDP-BJP batted for talks with all. They entered into alliance. In their agenda of alliance it’s written they will talk to all– and also to Hurriyat,” Farooq told a public rally at Ragooda belt on Wednesday.Taking a dig at those calling him Pakistani, he said, “They (PDP-BJP) are not Pakistanis. They are not anti- nationals. When Farooq is calling for holding talks with all they allege Farooq is anti-national and Pakistani.” “We have given sacrifices for entire life and then I am being given a label,” he said.”Alongside opening channels of dialogue with Pakistan, the Centre must talk to all the stake-holders, including Hurriyat Conference,” Abdullah said.Referring to recent unrest, he blamed the coalition for bringing “unprecedented crisis” not only in the Valley but also in the Jammu region. He also referred to “harassment being caused” to weaker sections of society in Jammu by threatening eviction from the lands rehabilitated by their ancestors.”Aren t these people Dogras and integral part of the Jammu society, who are at the receiving end of the whims and fancies of the coalition dispensation,” Abdullah said.”We inherit the legacy of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Anybody attempting to trample upon these ethos will get befitting reply from the people,” he said and “advised the Chief Minister not to lose sense of proportion by colluding in inflicting miseries on the people”.Holding PDP responsible for “political instability” and unrest across the Valley, he said “betrayal of mandate” by aligning with the BJP engulfed Jammu and Kashmir into “unprecedented crisis”. He described the PDP-BJP alliance as one of the major causes of igniting Kashmir unrest.

When PDP came to power last year, development process had to be started afresh: Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday the political process and governance in the state have to be carried out simultaneously and asked her party workers to play their role in creating a congenial atmosphere for that. “It has been the biggest success of our party to convince the stakeholders that the political process and governance in Jammu and Kashmir have to be carried out together.”When the party was voted to power in 2002, it not only carried forward its development agenda, but the political process in the state took off, resulting in initiation of dialogue and many major state-specific confidence building measures,” she told a gathering of PDP workers in Srinagar. The chief minister expressed regret that the state had to undergo a “political drought” after the PDP demitted office in 2005 and the whole process had to be “restarted from zero” in 2015 when her father and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over the reins again.”This was the biggest reason for the party to form the government in the state (with the BJP) so as to get the people out of the uncertainty which loomed large over them due to the political drought. “In fact, much of the reason for the recent turmoil in the Valley lies in the fact that political engagement was discontinued after 2005 and no more state-specific confidence building measures took place afterwards,” said Mehbooba.The PDP president said when the party took over last year, “everything had to be started afresh”. “Development and dialogue were made prominent components of the Agenda of Alliance (PDP’s common minimum programme with the BJP) and the government had just started to roll out its agenda.”However, certain elements inimical to peace and development in the state worked to derail the process. The whole process got stuck due to the turmoil of the last five months during which not only the government, but every section of the society in Kashmir got affected and bruised,” she said.Mehbooba said though the delay in carrying forward the development process would be compensated, the lives lost and the setback the state’s political process received were “irreparable”. She asked the party workers to make people aware of the “nefarious designs” of these “vested elements” who were only interested in “death and destruction in the state”.The chief minister asked the people to help her maintain peace in the state so that besides development, dialogue with all the stakeholders, opening of routes, more relief to the people and other state-specific measures could be undertaken.

BJP has surrendered to PDP on the issue of West Pakistan refugees: Ex-minister Pawan Gupta

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former minister and Udhampur ​Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Pawan Gupta on Saturday accused Bharatiya Janata Party​ (BJP) of surrendering before Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (​PDP) on the issue of West Pakistan refugees to stay in power.”BJP’s lust of power led it to surrender before PDP to promote the agenda of separatists, while denying the citizenship rights to West Pakistan refugees despite their domicile in Jammu and Kashmir for the last seven decades,” Gupta claimed.Gupta, who was a minister in the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed- led coalition was dropped from the Cabinet when Mehbooba Mufti took over the reins of the state, alleged BJP has betrayed the people of Jammu region.Gupta also accused BJP of aligning with the separatists and PDP to scuttle the establishment of Kashmiri Pandits’ and Sainik colonies in Kashmir. Gupta said the fundamental right of the West Pakistan refugees has been infringed even after they were promised domicile certificates.”Now BJP has taken a U-turn despite its announcement of issuing domicile certificates to the refugees and ridiculously reducing the same to merely issuance of I-cards, thus depriving them any chance of livelihood,” he said.

Kashmir unrest: With key elections around corner, PDP and NC cash in on people’s emotions

While Kashmir is yet to come out of the trauma and despondency after months of violent protests, strict curfews and shutdowns that took an immense economic and human toll, the two major political parties from the Valley — the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — are back to what they know best: Playing politics.

With the elections to the two key Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar and Anantnag set to be held early next year, the political leadership of the National Conference and PDP is leaving no stone unturned to appeal to the emotions of people who have been traumatised by the ongoing agitation in the Valley. It all began with the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah‘s criticism of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the PDP-BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti for failing to handle the unrest in the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

The National Conference’s working president, who himself faced a similar situation in 2010 during which at least 125 persons, mostly youths, were killed in retaliatory action against protesters, didn’t stop there. He even said that it would be a “grave mistake” to blame Pakistan for flaring up the situation.

“Simply blaming Pakistan for the present situation, then, it would mean that we don’t have to do anything to prevent the unrest, which I think would be a grave mistake. We need to have talked internally, we need to solve this political crisis and until we are conscious of this reality, I don’t think we can take any concrete action,” Omar told reporters in Srinagar.

Going a step ahead, on the 111th birth anniversary of his father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Dr Farooq Abdullah asked the Hurriyat to unite under a single banner and extended his party to the separatists “at this hour”. Addressing party workers at the mausoleum of Sheikh in Srinagar, Farooq said, “I ask these Hurriyat leaders to unite. We are standing by your side at this hour. Don’t think of us as your adversaries. We are not your adversaries.”

As if not to be left behind, Mehbooba admitted that security forces had used excessive force in the past five months of civilian uprising in Kashmir, and urged the Jammu and Kashmir Police to “change its line of action so that wounds inflicted on people are healed”. She also directed security forces to differentiate between militants and their families and not to see everybody as a suspect.

“Over the past five months, a lot of damage with regard to life and property took place here. Civilians, policemen and other security forces personnel sustained injuries. I will not shy away from speaking the truth. We were left with no option other than to take tough measures to protect life and property,” the chief minister said, while addressing the passing-out parade of a batch of new police recruits at Commandos Training Centre (CTC) Lethpora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

So, why are all the political parties shifting their moral goalposts on the prevailing crisis in the Valley which has left at least 96 civilians and two security personnel dead, over 16,000 injured while more than 10,000 have been arrested during the past five months?

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

While many experts have argued that the political posturing, especially by the National Conference, shows that there are no dividing lines between mainstream and separatist politics in Kashmir, that would be denigrating their contributions to the process of establishing democracy in Jammu and Kashmir that has been hit by turmoil over the last three decades.

The upcoming parliamentary elections to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha constituencies, which fell vacant after the resignation of PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra and election of Mehbooba to the post of chief minister respectively, has forced the regional parties to take a populist view on the prevailing crisis so as to brighten their electoral prospects.

Farooq is at the fag-end of his political career and it is obvious he is trying to stage a comeback by giving it a last shot before retiring, whatever it costs. Mehbooba, on the other hand, is facing severe criticism for ‘mishandling’ the prevailing crisis in the Valley. Her party has lost the ground it gained during the 2014 state Assembly elections.

In such a situation, both parties would like to appeal to the passions of the people in order to restore their electoral credibility. Calling them ‘separatist backers’ or ‘Hurriyat sympathisers’ would be distorting what lies at the heart of the issue. These days, separatism sells like hot cakes and the political compulsions brought about by the prevailing crisis has forced the two parties to toe the populist sentiment.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:45 IST

Farooq Abdullah’s pro-Hurriyat line shows once again that dividing lines in Kashmir are only on paper

Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s public endorsement of the Hurriyat Conference is one more indication of the fact that there is no real dividing line between the so-called ‘mainstream’ and so-called ‘secessionist’ politics.

I was sitting with a couple of ranking Hurriyat Conference leaders the evening after Abdullah’s statement. One of them remarked with a cynical smile that Abdullah was preparing the ground to contest a Lok Sabha by-election in spring. By-polls are due for the Srinagar and Anantnag seats – the latter vacated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Both the major mainstream parties have at various times played with people’s emotions. Not only do they destabilise each other’s governments by funding `pelters,’ they promote secessionist sentiment through the education system, bureaucrats, police, media, and various institutions when they are in government.

If indeed Dr Abdullah has an eye on the by-elections, it would not be the first time this sort of thing has occurred. During the 1977 elections, 29 months after the Indira-Sheikh `accord,’ both Mirza Afzal Beg for the National Conference and Mirwaiz Farooq for the Janata Party obliquely or directly promoted secession and Islamist sentiment in their respective campaigns.

After the Centre pulled the rug under his feet in 1984, showing contempt for his House majority, Abdullah and his party learnt a hard lesson: he would keep on the right side of whoever was in power at the Centre. Since the Centre has given him and his party short shrift of late, he seems to have opted for populism in the run-up to the by-elections.

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Reuters

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Reuters

A veteran of Kashmir’s backroom politics observed that, if the Congress and the National Conference pooled forces, the Congress could win the Anantnag seat, and Abdullah the Srinagar seat. In fact, Abdullah could win even without pooling forces.

Despite this week’s googly, Abdullah should be complemented for having avoided such populism since his father’s death in 1982 brought him to the forefront. The PDP, on the other hand, has walked a delicate tightrope ever since it was formed in 1999 – beginning from its choice of a green flag and the same election symbol which the secessionist Muslim United Front had adopted in 1987.

The Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami has covertly backed the currently ruling PDP in the 2002, 2008, and 2014 elections. As politics in other places have shown, such alliances can prove costly. A case in point: activists of the Jamaat have been at the forefront of organising this year’s uprising.

To a large extent, the constituent units collectively known as `Hurriyat’ are only the front for a vast and variegated range of forces and interests. This year, the buttons of remote control have been operated from Pakistan.

The poor end up dead

The tragedy is that the children of the poor get killed in the sordid blood games of those with interests in that vast array of forces, which benefit from unrest and instability. The children of those within those interest groups never come to harm. Their studies – often abroad or at least in different parts of the country – have generally not been affected this summer.

A few hours after Dr Abdullah’s statement on Monday, I sat with some of this year’s leading `stone-pelters’ in Pulwama. They were intent on `azadi’ (which one of them described as the removal of armed forces), but agreed that it is always the poor that end up dead in Kashmir’s repeated unrests.

They had little idea of the ideology, programme or borders of an independent Kashmir – much like the various so-called `Hurriyat’ `leaders’. When I asked about Ladakh, saying the people there want a closer relationship with India, they decided after a four second discussion to grant Ladakh what the people there want.

Their emotions are ever-so-often pushed to fever pitch by the speeches and positions taken by a range of `leaders’ who want power but have no vision – or commitment to any position, or political agenda.

The boys agreed that stone-pelting has become something of an obsessive game for their generation. They even said that they had attended practice sessions at Srinagar’s Idgah, under the gaze of security men, where organisers had taught them that over-arm lobs did not leave the elbow aching the way straight throws did.

They said that, when they were children in the previous decade (they were all born between 1994 and 1998), they used to play with army men, and share their food. It was during the agitations of 2008 that they learnt a different narrative, and began to hate the army, and India.

Since 2008, a carefully orchestrated `narrative’ about `occupation,’ `colonization’ and repression, peppered with talk of `mass graves,’ `mass rapes’ and so on, has shaped a new generation’s sentiments, a new movement, and a new militancy. Universities, literary festivals and the media have been vehicles for this.

Those two Hurriyat men with whom I sat the next evening in Srinagar spoke of their despair at the extent to which this generation, mainly teenagers, are influenced by radical ideas about Islamism. Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Omar had expressed similar views more than a year ago (please hyperlink my interview-based article of last November). The powers that be still apparently thought the situation was `under control’ at that time – as perhaps they have convinced themselves once more.

The fact is that, in the cesspool of Kashmir’s politics, so-called `secessionist’ leaders sometimes shows more maturity and responsibility than so-called `mainstream’ ones. All too often, much depends on who has been fed how much, and the stakes they see for gaining power or money.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 18:39 IST

Kashmir unrest: Omar Abdullah lets Pakistan off, says ‘historic blunders’ by India to blame

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said the unrest in Kashmir cannot be blamed on Pakistan, but was a result of “mistakes” made by the Indian government of not engaging with the people of the state. “Do not be under this false impression that the fire you see in Kashmir has been ignited by Pakistan. It is a result of our mistakes,” Omar said, addressing a function of his National Conference in Baramulla.

Omar Abdullah. PTIOmar Abdullah. PTI

Omar Abdullah. PTI

“To blame Pakistan alone for the political situation or the current unrest in the Valley is a distortion of the truth. The people of J&K have espoused a political sentiment, even when there was no external interference and this political sentiment forms the basis of the state’s special status that has since been eroded by extra-constitutional machinations,” Omar said.

He said the political issue in Kashmir is a result of “historic blunders and broken promises by successive dispensations” in New Delhi. “The situation today stands compounded because of the present central government’s refusal to even acknowledge that
a problem exists in Kashmir,” Omar said.

The National Conference’s working president alleged the ruling PDP’s charade of seeking confidence building measures and political initiatives could not conceal the party’s brazen abandonment of its own ideology and vision document in a bargain to attain power.

There is a stark difference between the Mehbooba Mufti of the opposition and the Mehbooba Mufti of the ruling PDP-BJP
government. It has now become evident that the Mehbooba of opposition was just an elaborate facade to pave way for Mehbooba Mufti’s ascent to the Chief Minister’s chair.

“Her theatrical performances as an opposition leader might have served her well but when people compare her present avatar to her previous posturing she stands exposed. Every single promise made by the PDP to seek votes in the previous elections has been broken with utter contempt shown towards the people of the state,” he added.

Omar alleged that the PDP-BJP alliance has “wreaked havoc” with the state. “The government has ceased to exist on the ground and its mere presence is exhibited solely through indiscriminate arrests and imposition of Public Safety Acts against the youth. The loss of nearly a hundred innocent young lives in the current unrest and the unimaginable and indiscriminate repression of our youth has been the most noticeable hallmark of the PDP-BJP alliance and Mehbooba Mufti s refusal to acknowledge her failure has only compounded the misery of the people,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 20:36 IST

Kashmir unrest was an attempt to topple PDP-BJP government: Ram Madhav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an exclusive interview with DNA – WION, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said that the recent agitation in Kashmir was an attempt to topple the democratically elected government of PDP-BJP in the valley. “The agitation was funded from abroad and Pakistan and the separatists wanted to topple our government. The behaviour of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was exemplary. She didn’t cave into any pressure,” said Ram Madhav.The recent unrest in Kashmir continued for more than three months and consumed many lives. BJP leaders tried to reach out a number of times, which included two trips by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the valley to meet a number of stakeholders. Ram Madhav said that the time has come for the civil society leadership to take responsibility and stand against terrorists. “We understand that terrorists and their supporters have created fear in the valley but civilian leadership needs to rise to the challenge,” he said. Ram Madhav was responding to the question that in the early days of the agitation, houses of senior PDP leaders came under fire of local protesters and terrorists.He was categorical that the Indian state will not bow under any pressure tactics accruing from violence by the agitators. Madhav admitted that the unrest was intensely present in rural areas, though many urban areas remained calm. He also said that civil society must come out in support of normalcy in the state and asked the local leadership to participate in the healing process. “The religious leadership which includes maulvis and preachers, must come forward and participate in the healing process,” said Ram Madhav.When asked about eroded legitimacy of the PDP in the valley, he said, “What was National Conference doing? If legitimacy is the case then NC, PDP and INC have legitimacy collectively.” He further added that the two flag issue, campus flag row and resettlement issue had nothing to do with the agitation. “These issues were created by the NC and certain mainstream parties. NC also made resettlement an issue,” said Ram Madhav. He insisted that the habit of picking non issues has become a nemesis in Kashmir. However, he added that the BJP remains committed to the return of Pandits to the valley and there would be no compromise on the issue. Speaking on insurgency, Ram Madhav said, “What local issues can be resolved by attacking a CRPF camp? Protests have to be in the spirit of democracy.”After three months of violence and lockdown, the Kashmir valley seems to be liming back to normalcy. However, Ram Madhav said that Pakistan needs to create normalcy on the border and that the onus lies with them. “We have no appetite for violence. India reserves the right to respond and that’s what the government is doing,” he said. He reiterated that the mutilation of Indian soldiers is unacceptable and such actions would not go unpunished.

Farooq Abdullah bats for ‘autonomy to both sides of Kashmir’

Bhaderwah: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said autonomy to both sides of Jammu and Kashmir was the only viable solution to the nearly seven-decade old problem.

“Borders cannot be changed but these can be made irrelevant and soft for people to people exchange and opening new vistas of trade and commerce for overall economic prosperity of the region.”

“We bat for autonomy to both sides of Kashmir and converting LoC-IB as soft border,” the National Conference President said while addressing a public meeting in Bhaderwah.

Farooq Abdullah. AFP

Farooq Abdullah. AFP

Abdullah said that issues between India and Pakistan cannot be resolved by guns or cannons, which have even been proven by four wars, but these can definitely be deliberated upon for amicable solution through a sustained process of dialogue.

He said the reality of LoC and International Border between the two nations cannot be challenged at the strength of military power and therefore the two parts of the state should be granted maximum autonomy.

In the context of Indo-Pak dialogue, he referred to the speech of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Tanghdar, emphasising that friends can be changed but not the neighbours.

He said the intermittent skirmishes on borders have only aggravated the problems of the two sides of Jammu and Kashmir.

The NC President cautioned New Delhi against delaying the resolution of political issue of Kashmir, saying restoration of the commitments made in the Instrument of Accession is the only way forward in wriggling out the state from prevailing crisis.

He said the state of Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communication, which has been re-emphasised by the former Sadr-e-Riyasat, Karan Singh in Parliament recently. He said the genesis of discontent among people in Kashmir was due to breaking of promises and said that mistrust among youth is deep-rooted.

“The alienation is growing among youth, who cannot be won over by brute force or the notes of Rs 500 or Rs 1000,” he said, adding that a meaningful engagement with all the stakeholders had assumed immense significance.

Warning RSS against furthering divisive agenda across the country in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular, Abdullah said that the state had not acceded to Hindu India but a secular nation, a proud abode for all faiths and communities.

“Nobody has right to undermine the sacrifices of Muslims in independence struggle of India,” he said and asked the BJP to refrain from practicing the British legacy of ‘divide and rule’.

Speaking on the occasion, former Chief Minister and National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah said that the state is facing grave challenge from divisive forces that were working overtime to generate hatred among religious communities and drift between the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

“There are political forces that are engaged in furthering communal and caste politics, which is against the essence of pluralistic state like Jammu and Kashmir”, he said and urged the party cadre to stand against them for safeguarding the single entity and secular foundations of the state.

He said the existence of National Conference is due to its secular credentials and the cherished slogan of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah “Hindu Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian Unity” will always remain guiding force for the party.

Omar referred to the polarising politics of the PDP and BJP saying while the former contested 2014 elections in Kashmir by instilling fear among people about the Sangh Parivar and later based its electoral plank on getting rid of Abdullah and Mufti dynasties’.

Narendra Modi vowed during electioneering in the state to free J&K from Abdullahs and Muftis but took no time in allying with PDP after the poll results came out”, he said and decried the opportunistic politics of the two parties.

The former Chief Minister expressed anguish over large scale devastation and destruction in Kashmir Valley during over past four months and claimed 90 youngsters got killed, hundreds were blinded and thousands injured.

“And the irony is that some people in the Centre are under the delusion of youngsters getting killed for Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes”, he added.

He questioned the claims of normalcy dawning after demonetisation, saying the people of Kashmir would not sacrifice their sons for Rs 500 or Rs 1000 notes.

“There has been a widespread discontent among the people, which needs to be addressed by solving the political issues of Kashmir”, he maintained.

Omar Abdullah, who is on a three day tour of Chinab Valley along with his father, Farooq Abdullah and several other senior leaders of the party was addressing a public rally at Dak Bungalow Bhaderwah.

“Our accession with Indian state was conditional and was limited only to currency, defense and foreign affairs but gradually they started draining it.

Then they came with the false promises, be it Narsimha Rao’s ‘Sky is the limit’, or Vajpaye’s confession from Lal Qilla on 15 August and now Narinder Modi’s promises,” said Omar Abdullah.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 08:49 IST

To promote education, J&K government waives off school fee of girls

Tue, 22 Nov 2016-04:48pm , Jammu , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an aim to provide free education to all girls, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday ordered waiving off their school fees in the state-run educational institutions up to higher-secondary level.”In order to encourage enrolment of the girl students in the schools and to further incentivise their education, sanction is hereby accorded to waive off school fee charged from the girl students in the state-run educational institutions up to higher secondary level with immediate effect,” an order issued by Commissioner Secretary of Education Department, Shaleen Kabra said in Jammu. The step comes as a fulfilment of the announcement in the budget of PDP-BJP government this year.

Srinagar MP Tariq Hameed Karra’s resignation accepted by LS Speaker

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has accepted the resignation of Srinagar MP Tariq Hameed Karra, who put in his papers protesting against the “failure” of Parliament to make “any tangible moves” to end violence in Kashmir.Mahajan announced in the House on Thursday that she has accepted the resignation of Karra with effect from October 17.Karra, a founder member of PDP had sent his resignation letter to Speaker on September 23. He had also quit from his party.In the wake of unrest in the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, 61-year-old Karra had announced his resignation on September 16, blaming the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir for the turmoil, saying “the seeds of deceit, disillusionment and disenchantment were sown in the minds and hearts of people the day the PDP tied an alliance with the BJP …it was an unnatural alliance.”Karra had said he was forced to take the extreme step to register his “strong protest” against the “unabated killings, grievous injuries and repression and suppression let loose” on the people of Kashmir and the “failure of Parliament”, Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government “to find a way out of this painful situation”.A one time close confidant of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Karra, who had defeated National Conference President Farooq Abdullah in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 40,000 votes, had also accused the PDP of “working on the RSS-agenda”.

J&K: PDP Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri’s house attacked by terrorist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri’s residence in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district was attacked by terrorist forces on Monday. According to media reports, two or three terrorists opened fire at the police guarding Veeri’s house in Bijbehara, Anantnag. When the policemen retaliated, the terrorists fled from there.No casualties were reported.Though, PDP minister was not present at his place, security arrangements were beefed up and search operations were launched to track the terrorists. This came weeks after militants attacked the residence of a ruling PDP MLA in Shopian town of Kashmir by lobbing a grenade at it. However, there was no damage done due to the explosion that took place on October 5. In September, some unidentified militants snatched weapons from police personnel guarding the residence of ruling People’s Democratic Party’s district President from Anantnag.Six to eight militants attacked the guard post at the residence of Advocate Jawed Ahmed Sheikh, district President of PDP at Dayalgam and snatched four AK rifles from the security personnel, a police official said.Further details awaited.With agency inputs

No formal proposal from J&K govt to withdraw Afspa, reveals an RTI reply

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has not submitted any formal proposal for the withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (Afspa) from the state, according to an RTI reply.

“There is no formal proposal from the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for revocation of Afspa,” Ministry of Home Affairs said in reply to an RTI query.

Human rights activist MM Shuja had filed an RTI to the Union Home Ministry seeking information about the state government’s demand for revocation of Afspa from the state.

A file image of protest on Afspa. Reuters

A file image of protest on Afspa. Reuters

The home ministry also said that the revocation of the Afspa has been reviewed from time to time.

“It has been decided that time is not appropriate for withdrawal of Afspa from Jammu and Kashmir.

“Revocation of Afspa has been on the agenda of both ruling PDP and opposition National Conference, which ruled the state in coalition with Congress from 2008 to 2014,” it said.

PDP has been in power in the state since 2014 after forming a coalition government with the BJP.

The RTI reply said the issue of revocation of Afspa from Jammu and Kashmir has been raised by various sections of the society and individuals in Kashmir valley from time to time.

Omar Abdullah (then chief minister of J&K) also raised this issue in meeting with then Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) on 14 November, 2011 and during Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security on 5 June, 2013,” it added.

In July, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that in order to improve the situation in the state Afspa should be revoked from some areas, beginning with 25 to 50 police stations, as an experiment.

In reply to an earlier RTI query in June, the Home Ministry had said that no written request regarding revocation of the Afspa has been received from the government of Jammu and Kashmir state in the last two years.

“The situation is reviewed in the Ministry from time to time. However, no formal meeting (has been) held regarding revocation of Afspa in J&K during last two years,” the ministry had said in response to the earlier RTI application.

Grant state citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in J-K: Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday batted for grant of state citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in Jammu and Kashmir and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to leave the Valley due to militancy. He said the state government should work with the Centre to pursue one policy and move in one direction, noting that the nationalist forces should be strengthened and “undesirable” activities be rooted out. The situation in the state is a matter of concern, he said. “Many issues continue to hang fire. During the partition and subsequently many Hindu refugees were displaced from Pak-occupied Kashmir and arrived there. Sheikh Abdullah assured them that they will be given their rights. Their third generation is living there. They don’t have state citizenship rights. They don’t have ration cards and jobs. How long will they wait?” asked Bhagwat. “For decades, Kashmiri Pandits have been living outside. They should live where they used to and be sure of their protection as patriots and Hindus. Such circumstances should be created and they be given justice,” he said in his Dussehra address. Their dreams will have to be fulfilled, he said, adding that only then people will believe that they are being taken care of in the same way other states are working for their citizens. The issue of grant of citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in the state has been a controversial one there with parties like National Conference and PDP expressing reservation over it. The state government, which is headed by PDP in alliance with BJP, should see to it that a transparent and clean administration is there, Bhagwat said.Despite lot of money being pumped into the state, development work is not happening and people wonder where all the money is going, he said. Those creating trouble should be dealt firmly, he said, claiming that there is no trouble in entire regions of Jammu and Ladakh, besides a large part of Kashmir.

Srinagar: 12-year-old succumbs to pellet injuries, sparks fresh clashes; curfew imposed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A minor boy succumbed to pellet injuries in Srinagar, sparking fresh clashes between protesters and security forces at various places in Kashmir on Saturday even as curfew continued in seven police station areas of Srinagar. Ruling PDP demanded a time-bound probe into the death of the boy.Junaid Akhoon, who was hit by pellets in the head and chest at Saidapora in Safakadal police station area in Srinagar on Friday, succumbed to injuries at SKIMS hospital at Soura late on Friday night, taking the death toll in the three-month-long unrest in Kashmir to 84, a police official said.While police said the boy was injured during clashes between protesters and security forces, the local residents alleged that the deceased was not involved in any protest.Police said the boy was aged 12.Use of force was unprovoked and excessive which called for a probe and action as a follow up, the PDP quoting a deputation of respectable people from Eidgah locality of downtown area of the city said, and demanded a time-bound probe into the incident.”PDP has demanded immediate, time bound probe into Junaid Ahmad Akhoon’s death and desires action against those found guilty,” a party spokesman said in a statement. The spokesman said the party is anguished over reports of use of “unwarranted force”.As the body of the deceased was handed over to his family for last rites this morning, people in large numbers defied curfew and gathered at his house and later took out a funeral procession towards Eidgah. However, the funeral procession was stopped by police near the Eidgah grounds, resulting in intense clashes.The clashes spread to different localities in the city and continued intermittently throughout the day, resulting in injuries to 12 persons, officials said. A police official said curfew remained in force in seven police station areas of the city as a precautionary measure for maintaining law and order.”Curfew has been imposed as a precautionary measure in seven police station areas of Srinagar city,” the official said here. He said the police station areas where curfew has been imposed are Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, Maharaj Gunj, Maisuma and Batamaloo.”Restrictions on assembly of people are in force in rest of the Kashmir Valley while security forces have been deployed in strength to maintain law and order,” the official said. Normal life remained affected for the 92nd consecutive day in Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives including two cops and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protesters and security forces, yesterday entered fourth month as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed, while public transport continued to be off the roads.The roads across Srinagar city on Saturday wore a deserted look with security forces checking the handful of private vehicles seen on the roads. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Kashmir should not be seen through security prism alone: CM Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday the Kashmir issue should not be seen through the security prism alone and called upon the political leadership of the country to invest in peace in the state and own the pain and suffering of the people. Addressing party workers from Ganderbal district in Srinagar, she said people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be given to feel that their dignity is being undermined.”The Kashmir issue should not be seen through the security prism alone and the country’s political leadership needs to invest in J&K’s peace and own and acknowledge the pain and sufferings of its people,” she said. Maintaining that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have huge stakes in peace and stability in the region, she said her PDP would continue its efforts to seek larger political consensus for the peaceful resolution of the issues facing the state.”There has to be a larger political consensus on how to meet the challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir and make this a turning point in the state’s turbulent history so that our future generations do not have to suffer the miseries of violence and bloodshed,” Mehbooba said.”PDP strongly believes that the fast-changing equations in the region offer the country’s leadership, not just a challenge, but also a great opportunity to take a giant step towards making India more at peace not only with its neighbours, but also with itself,” she said.Mehbooba asked Pakistan to take concrete confidence building measures towards reviving the peace and reconciliation process in the region to end the miseries of the people. Maintaining that there is no alternative to reconciliation, Mehbooba said the people in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir have to suffer enormous human tragedies and economic losses because of the hostility in the region.While people living along the borders in Jammu region suffer and live under the constant threat of cross-border shelling, the people in Kashmir valley are suffering because of the continued internal strife and recurrent violence, the Chief Minister said.She said concrete measures shall have to be taken to address the causes of alienation and cynicism and at the same time revive the process of intra-state and inter-state reconciliation and confidence building. “We shall have to ponder over the emerging situation in the state and go deep into the reasons for mounting alienation especially among the educated youth,” Mehbooba added.The Chief Minister said despite passing through the “darkest era” of its history, the state’s main source of confidence is the substantial potential of building upon its young and enterprising human resource. “It is heartening to note that even after having gone through the most difficult times, our young boys and girls are doing us proud in whatever field they take a plunge,” she said.

Kashmir should not be seen through security prism alone: CM Mehbooba Mufti

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said the Kashmir issue should not be seen through the security prism alone and called upon the political leadership of the country to invest in peace in the state and own the pain and suffering of the people.

Addressing party workers from Ganderbal district in Srinagar, she said people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be given to feel that their dignity is being undermined.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFPJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“The Kashmir issue should not be seen through the security prism alone and the country’s political leadership needs to invest in J&K’s peace and own and acknowledge the pain and sufferings of its people,” she said.

Maintaining that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have huge stakes in peace and stability in the region, she said her PDP would continue its efforts to seek larger political consensus for the peaceful resolution of the issues facing the state.

“There has to be a larger political consensus on how to meet the challenges confronting Jammu and Kashmir and make this a turning point in the state’s turbulent history so that our future generations do not have to suffer the miseries of violence and bloodshed,” Mehbooba said.

“PDP strongly believes that the fast-changing equations in the region offer the country’s leadership, not just a challenge, but also a great opportunity to take a giant step towards making India more at peace not only with its neighbors, but also with itself,” she said.

Mehbooba asked Pakistan to take concrete confidence building measures towards reviving the peace and reconciliation process in the region to end the miseries of the people.

Maintaining that there is no alternative to reconciliation, Mehbooba said the people in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir have to suffer enormous human tragedies and economic losses because of the hostility in the region.

While people living along the borders in Jammu region suffer and live under the constant threat of cross-border shelling, the people in Kashmir valley are suffering because of the continued internal strife and recurrent violence, the Chief Minister said.

She said concrete measures shall have to be taken to address the causes of alienation and cynicism and at the same time revive the process of intra-state and inter-state reconciliation and confidence building.

“We shall have to ponder over the emerging situation in the state and go deep into the reasons for mounting alienation especially among the educated youth,” Mehbooba added.

The Chief Minister said despite passing through the “darkest era” of its history, the state’s main source of confidence is the substantial potential of building upon its young and enterprising human resource.

“It is heartening to note that even after having gone through the most difficult times, our young boys and girls are doing us proud in whatever field they take a plunge,” she said.

Mayawati calls surgical strike a right but late move, cautions BJP against taking electoral advantage

Lucknow: Congratulating the Army for carrying out a successful anti-terror operation across LoC, BSP supremo Mayawati on Friday said the government should have given a go-ahead for it soon after the Pathankot attack. She also cautioned BJP against trying to go overboard in celebration or taking “electoral advantage” on the issue, saying the situation has also led to new security challenges for the country.

“By demolishing terror camps in LoC, the army has fulfilled the promise made by it to the people of the country after the Uri attack,” Mayawati said in a statement in Lucknow.

BSP chief Mayawati. ReutersBSP chief Mayawati. Reuters

BSP chief Mayawati. Reuters

“Giving a go-ahead for army action by the Modi government is a right but late move … it should have been done soon after the Pathankot attack in January this year … perhaps it could have saved the lives of 19 jawans in Uri,” she said. The BSP chief also cautioned the Modi government not to get carried away by this.

“This is not the time for the Modi government to either celebrate in over-excitement or make the wrong attempt to take political and electoral advantage on the issue as the present situation has also posed many challenges before the country… there is a need to remain vigilant for security of the country and its citizens,” she said.

“There is an immediate need to secure all international borders especially with Pakistan. This issue has been given very little importance in past two-and-half years resulting in continued terror activities causing loss of lives of civilians and jawans,” she stressed.

The four-time UP chief minister also called for shunning the inconsistent policy of the past in this regard and allowing the army to continue its good work in national interest.

Criticising BJP president Amit Shah’s claims of the present scenario as ‘the dawn of new age’, she said it was “politically motivated”.

“A lot needs to be done to secure the borders and lives of people … BJP should not start patting its own back over the developments,” she said. “Is it not the wrong thinking of the NDA-BJP led central government and PDP-BJP led state government that instead of effectively deploying the army on the borders to check infiltration it was used to keep a watch on its own people in
Kashmir,” she asked.

The BSP president called for equipping the army with all kind of modern equipment for securing international borders.

Rahul Gandhi lauds Narendra Modi, calls surgical strikes first action worthy of stature as PM

Bulandshahr: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday lauded Narendra Modi for the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across LoC, saying it was his “first action” befitting of a Prime Minister in two-and-a-half years.

Rahul, who is in Uttar Pradesh for his Kisan Yatra, said at a road show that he and his party stand by the Prime Minister’s decision. “When the Prime Minister acts as the prime minister of
the country then I too support him…I want to thank him that in the past two-and-a-half years, this is the first action which can be termed as befitting of the prime minister,” the Congress Vice President said.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. File photo. PTICongress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. File photo. PTI

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. File photo. PTI

Rahul, who has been criticising Modi during his ongoing Deoria to Delhi ‘kisan yatra’, was all praise for the prime minister a day after India carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK.

Rahul said, “He (Modi) has my full support and that of the Congress party…the entire nation is standing with him today.” He paid tributes to the jawans who were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice to safeguard the country.

In course of his ongoing kisan yatra, Rahul had alleged that Modi’s “short-sighted” political alliance with the PDP “opened the space” for terrorism in Kashmir. “I stand by our soldiers and I condemn what has been done to them by the Pakistanis. However, the space for that has been created by the politics that the NDA has carried out in Jammu and Kashmir,” he had said in Mati (Kanpur Dehat) on 20 September days after the Uri attack.

He had noted that the erstwhile UPA government had spent nine years fighting terrorism and curbing it. Rahul had accused Pakistan of being responsible for the attack while apportioning blame on the NDA government’s “politics” for it.

“The first responsibility is on Pakistan and the government’s politics,” he had told reporters. Alleging that the NDA had “no strategy” as regards Kashmir, Rahul had targeted the Prime Minister, saying he “goes from one event to another and this is no way of handling national security. National security cannot be handled like public meetings. This is a serious matter.”

He had also tweeted: “FYI Modiji: a Kashmir strategy cannot be developed using selfies and sound bites.”

Indus Waters Treaty not in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir: CM Mehbooba Mufti

Reacting to the reports that the Centre is in the process of reviewing the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that the treaty, while being beneficial to India and Pakistan, is not in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir.

“India and Pakistan can work together to revise the treaty and allow us to harness the rich water resources in the state. We can tell our country people that we should revise the IWT, but we can’t tell that to Pakistan. The two countries should work together for peace. If the two countries can share water, why not their other resources?” an emotional Mufti told a gathering in Srinagar.

File image of Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File image of Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Mufti said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Pakistan with the message of peace on behalf of people of Jammu and Kashmir, but the Pathankot attack shattered that process.

“Our party became the harbinger of peace when my father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, spoke of nursing the wounds of people, when the memory of Kargil war was still afresh,” she said.

“In times of war, Mufti saheb urged India and Pakistan to get involved in talks and start a process of reconciliation. In 2002, we formed the government with Congress when NDA was ruling at the Centre. Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) understood Mufti saheb’s point of view which had ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity in the state,” she added.

After the PDP-BJP government’s failure to contain the violence in the state, Mufti appealed to the gathering to give her government a chance to run and pitched for a stronger relation between India and Pakistan to fight the economic stagnation plaguing the region. She also underlined the need of a bilateral dialogue to resolve the political issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Give us a chance, there are four and half years (left for her government). You did not give us time (to run a smooth government). Tell your kids (stone-pelters) to go home. Give opportunity to me and my government, PDP and BJP,” Mufti said.

“I have 80 holes in my heart (referring to deaths of over 80 youths in security force firing). Those kids, who should be playing, were instigated to attack police stations, Army camps. What do you think the reaction from the forces will be?” she asked.

Kashmir had been witnessing violence and unrest since 8 July — the day Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed. The violence that followed has left around 90 people dead and thousands injured. The government has employed strong-arm measures to restore order, but has so far failed to enforce its writ.

Mufti said the People’s Democratic Party, of which she is the president, entered into an alliance with the BJP to take forward the mission of restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.  “The Assembly was in session. There was an encounter in which three militants were killed. What wrong have I done? What is my fault?”, she asked.

Hitting out at the Opposition for targeting the coalition government, the chief minister said the same parties, who want to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir, sold their mandate in the past to remain in power.

“Those speaking against us used to talk in the language of war when they were in power. Mufti saheb knew that Modi has the mandate of the entire country, which was why we shook hands with the BJP. We have lost widows and orphans. How long are we going to fight with each other?” she said.

“We endured your hatred (for stitching alliance with BJP) and Modi came to power by winning a majority. If anybody can find a solution to the Kashmir issue, it is this government,” she said.

“If Muslims are safe anywhere in the world, it is in our country,” Mufti said.

PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karra resigns, protests failure to end violence in Valley

Srinagar: Tariq Hameed Karra, founder member of PDP, on Friday formally resigned from the Lok Sabha protesting against the “failure” of Parliament to make “any tangible moves” to end violence in Kashmir.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A week after he announced his decision to quit the party and Lok Sabha, Karra sent his resignation to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday.

The PDP MP from Srinagar parliamentary constituency said he was forced to take the extreme step to register his “strong protest” against the unabated killings, grievous injuries and “repression and suppression” let loose on the people of Kashmir and the “failure of Parliament”, Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government “to find a way out of this painful situation”.

“The prevailing situation in Kashmir is not only alarming but tragic as well. Every single day… the number of injured is out numbering hospital capacities and the number of arrested is out numbering the lock ups,” he said.

“For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, people of Kashmir were forced not to offer Eid prayers,” he said in the letter in which he has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker to accept his resignation with effect from 15 September.

He said in the prevailing situations, “which is very critical”, there is an urgency of responding to it beyond party politics.

“The present situation can’t be allowed to dither any more as it could have dangerous consequences for the state and region,” he said, adding “it has already threatened the gains of the peace process which were so painstakingly made earlier.”

He said the need of hour is that the government must reinforce its resolve to work through peaceful means and through public participation towards restoration of peace.

“The views of the people of the state, cutting across the political divide, have to be respected and responded to for the permanent settlement of the issue instead of resorting to hegemonic mindset,” he said.

He said in the prevailing situation, he has decided to stand by his people instead of continuing as a member of a forum “which is yet to make any tangible moves” to end the violence in Kashmir.

61-year-old Karra had announced his resignation on 16 September, blaming the PDP-BJP alliance for the current turmoil saying “the seeds of deceit, disillusionment and disenchantment were sown in the minds and hearts of people the day the PDP tied an alliance with the BJP …it was an unnatural alliance.”

A one time close confidant of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Karra, who had defeated National Conference president Farooq Abdullah in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 40,000 votes, had also accused the PDP of “working on the RSS-agenda”.

Kashmir situation would not have worsened if Rahul Gandhi was PM: Congress

Vadodara: In the wake of Uri terror attack, GPCC president Bharat Solanki on Monday blamed the PDP-BJP led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir for the rise in “Pak-sponsored” terror attacks in that state.

A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir would not have worsened if Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country, he said.

Talking to PTI, the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief also blamed the PDP-BJP led coalition government in J&K responsible for the rise in the Pak-sponsored terror attacks in that state.

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to divide people on the basis of caste and religion, the Congress leader asked, “Why is PM Modi keeping silent despite the killing of 18 jawans in Uri yesterday?”

Solanki said that late PM Indira Gandhi had displayed “great courage” and got Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971 war.

“Our country needs leaders like late Mrs Gandhi,” he said while condemning the Uri attack.

Solanki was in the city to felicitate newly-elected office-bearers of the Maharaja Sayajirao University Students’ Union. ABVP candidates were defeated in the election and NSUI-backed candidates captured the two important posts of Vice President and General Secretary.

Talking about this election, he said, “This election indicates that young generation is turning towards Congress and also shows good prospects for the party in winning the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat.”

Kashmir: Terrorists attack PDP leader’s house, take away four rifles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorists reportedly attacked PDP leader Javaid Ahmad Sheikh’s house in Dialgam, Anantnag and took away four rifles from the police on guard duty, reported ANI. The incident happened on a day in which four terrorists attacked an army camp close to headquarters. At least 17 soldiers lost their lives and 19 others injured post the terror strike on an army camp close to the headquarters of the 12th Brigade at Uri in Baramulla district. All four terrorists have been killed in what has emerged as worse than the attack on the Pathankot air base earlier in January this year, in which seven army men were killed. With agency inputs

Blow to Mehbooba govt: Another PDP leader quits party over ‘bloodbath’ of Kashmiris

Blow to Mehbooba govt: Another PDP leader quits party over ‘bloodbath’ of Kashmiris

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Srinagar: In a set back to the ruling PDP, party leader Nisar Ahmad Mandoo on Sunday resigned from the party saying he cannot side with “bloodbath” of Kashmiris, the second prominent leader to resign in the wake of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir.

Mehbooba Mufti. PTIMehbooba Mufti. PTI

Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“I am resigning from the basic membership of the PDP as I cannot side with the bloodbath of Kashmiris,” Mandoo, who was senior vice president of the party’s Srinagar unit, told reporters in Srinagar.

Mandoo also cited “anti-people” policies of BJP-PDP coalition in the state as a reason for his resignation. “I have been associated with PDP for the past 16 years. The party was formed to protect the lives and political dignity of people but today the party has deviated from these principles,” he said.

Mandoo is the second prominent leader of the ruling party to resign in the wake of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir that has left 81 persons dead and thousands of others injured. Tariq Hameed Karra, founding member of the PDP and Lok Sabha member from Srinagar constituency, resigned from the party as well as the Parliament seat on 15 September over civilians’ killings.

PM Modi stresses on dialogue for a lasting solution to Kashmir unrest

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday stressed upon a dialogue to find a “lasting solution” to the problems in Jammu and Kashmir but “within the framework of the Constitution”.

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

At a meeting with a delegation of leaders of opposition parties from Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said the loss of lives in more than five weeks of unrest in Kashmir had distressed him.

“Those who lost their lives during recent disturbances are part of us, our nation. Whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us,” Modi said, according to an official statement issued after the meeting.

The Prime Minister expressed “deep concern and pain at the prevailing situation in the state”.

“There has to be a dialogue and we need to find a permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the Constitution.”

The statement said that Modi conveyed to the delegation, led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, that “his government and the nation stand with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and suggested that all political parties should reach out to the people and convey the same” to them.

He expressed his commitment to the development of the state and its people, and appealed for restoration of normalcy.

The Prime Minister “appreciated the constructive suggestions” the leaders of opposition parties made in the meeting.

The meeting comes as the Kashmir Valley remains under strict curfew for the 45th day in a row. The valley has been on the boil amid violent clashes between stone-throwing pro-freedom protestors and security forces since the 8 July killing of a rebel commander, Burhan Wani.

At least 68 people have been killed in firing by security forces in the weeks of unrest. Thousands have been injured, mostly by pellet firing.

Kashmir unrest: J&K leaders urge President to intervene

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A delegation of Opposition parties from Jammu and Kashmir met President Mukherjee on Saturday seeking his immediate intervention to impress upon the Central government to find a political solution to Kashmir crisis instead of tackling it administratively in a ham-handed manner and worsening the situation.”The root cause of the current agitation lies in politics and solution must be found politically and not through use of force. It will be counter productive,” said former chief minister Omar Abdullah of National Conference after meeting the President.Warning that the current unrest is now “showing signs of spreading beyond the valley to Pir Panjal, Chinab Valley and Kargil region of Ladakh”, Omar said, “The failure of the central government to acknowledge that the issue in Kashmir is largely of a political nature has worsened the already volatile situation. All attempts to crush the agitation by heaping more misery, by imposing further restrictions has driven more people put on the streets.”Omar blamed Pakistan for adding fuel to the fire to the unrest that unfolded after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s encounter death on July 8.Pointing out at BJP-PDP coalition government’s failure to tackle the Kashmir crisis, Abdullah said, “It is very sad that instead of political leadership it is the Army chief of Northern Command that has voiced his concern and spoken about the need of a dialogue with different stakeholders.”The delegation pointed out at non-implementation of recommendations of the Working Groups and blamed the government for not tabling the interlocutor’s report in the Parliament that was constituted to solve the longstanding Kashmir crisis.CPM leader Tarigami said, “The government should not shy away from political outreach and must meet the separatist leadership.”Omar warned that a “continued delay to engage with the people of the state through a comprehensive and sustained political initiative will further deepen the sense of alienation in the Valley and cast a shadow of uncertainty on its future generation”.He said the delegation also requested the President to use his “influence” on the state as well as the Centre “to stop the use of lethal force against civilians in the Valley”.Refuting Kashmiri leader Sajjad Lone’s claim that only 5% of Kashmiri population is part of the unrest, Omar said, “I challenge him to try visiting his home in constituency Handwara let alone carry out a meeting….The unrest has spread to all the rural areas…It is a matter of grave concern.”The delegation consisting of 22 senior leaders from Congress, CPM, Peoples’ Democratic Front (PDF) and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) met President Mukherjee for nearly one hour.Besides Abdullah, the delegation also included JK Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir, CPM leader M. Y. Tarigami, PDF leader Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, PDP (Nationalist) Ghulam Hassan Mir and several senior leaders from National Conference and Congress.Sense of alienation will deepen: OmarOmar warned that a “continued delay to engage with the people of the state through a comprehensive and sustained political initiative will further deepen the sense of alienation in the Valley and cast a shadow of uncertainty on its future generation”. The delegation will be meeting mainstream Opposition parties in New Delhi during next to couple of days to convey them about “grave situation” prevailing in J&K to build up more pressure on the central government.

BJP terms Opposition parties’ meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee as a political drama

Jammu: BJP on Saturday termed the meeting of the Opposition parties of Jammu and Kashmir with the president over the Kashmir unrest as “political drama” and attacked them for not extending cooperation to the PDP-BJP alliance in restoring peace and normalcy.

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah comes out after a delegation of all opposition parties from the state led by him called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah comes out after a delegation of all opposition parties from the state led by him met President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“The Opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir are not extending cooperation to the PDP-BJP alliance government efforts in restoration of peace and normalcy in the state, which is witnessing unrest for over a month now,” BJP Spokesperson Balbir Ram Rattan told reporters.

“Opposition parties’ meeting with the President is a political drama,” he said.

“Instead of coming forth and extending any fruitful cooperation, the Opposition parties are playing to gallery,” he said.

Rattan, claimed the leaders of Congress, NC and CPI were only in a rat race to stay in the news and would rather play a negative role and incite the people by their statements instead of helping the government to control the situation.

He said there had been number of occasions after trouble erupted in the Valley when All-Party meetings were called at different levels.

“In one of the meetings called by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, NC stayed away and in the other meeting called by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, it was the Congress which boycotted it,” Rattan said.

He said, “one fails to understand why these leaders held separate meeting and decided to meet President to submit Memorandum. It is merely a political drama.”

Kashmir unrest: Omar Abdullah meets Pranab Mukherjee, says Valley’s problem cannot be solved administratively

New Delhi: After leading a delegation of opposition MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the violence-hit state is faced with a political problem that can’t be handled administratively.

Omar Abdullah. PTI

Omar Abdullah. PTI

“Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem. It cannot be handled administratively,” Omar told reporters after the meeting with the President

The National Conference leader said the situation that went out of control after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was “due to our own mistakes”.

Earlier, Omar led the Jammu and Kashmir MLAs delegation to the President and apprised him of the situation prevailing in the Valley, where curfew has been imposed for the last 43 days. The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the President.

“Pakistan has been trying to destabilise peace in the Valley for the last 25 years. But if you ask me if the situation created after Wani’s killing was due to Pakistan, I will have to say ‘no’,” the NC leader said.

He said Pakistan undoubtedly tried to fuel the situation and succeeded too to some extant. “But the immediate turmoil was due to our own mistakes.”

Omar said it is for the first time that the initiatives that should have been taken by the government are being taken by the opposition.

The death toll in violence in the Kashmir Valley has risen to 67, triggered a day after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

‘This is a brazen murder of democracy’,National Conference accuses PDP on Land Transfer Bill

National Conference (NC) accused the ruling PDP of “sabotaging” the Land Transfer Bill on Thursday, which aims at preventing transfer of land to non-state subjects, in the Assembly by supporting the move of its ally BJP to transfer the bill to a select committee.”This is a brazen murder of democracy, ironically and tragically on the same day when (chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti took oath as a member of the Assembly. The bill was sent to the select committee despite the fact that BJP members were part of the cabinet decision on June 23 to introduce the bill in the House. This defies sanity and precedent and questions the very existence and writ of the chief minister,” NC spokesperson Junaid Mattu said in Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mattu said PDP’s “sellout was exposed” in the Assembly on Thursday when some PDP members rose in open revolt against the party. “Even some members of the ruling party were shocked at how a bill passed through the Cabinet to be tabled in the Assembly could be sabotaged in this manner. NC had announced that it would support the Bill and all such measures that are aimed at safeguarding J-K s special status.”Unfortunately, it is now pretty evident that for Mehbooba, J-K’s special status is negotiable and she can quite easily barter in lieu of BJP’s continued patronage and benevolence,” the NC spokesperson said.He said the transfer of the bill to the select committee was a matter of “shame” for the chief minister. “…PDP has obliged BJP in sabotaging the bill without any consideration for the absolutely damaging message this would send out. This emboldens those voices that have sought erosion of the State Subject Laws and abrogation of Article 370 and this could very well be the first covert step by the PDP-BJP alliance to erode J&K’s special status,” he said.He alleged that the entire “covert plan” is being enacted under the direct supervision of the chief minister. “Nothing could be more tragic,” he said.”Those members of PDP who rose in revolt against their own party at this shocking sellout should realise that their party is now at open loggerheads against the people of this state and their legal and political interests. “PDP’s continued investment in the politics of betrayal and U-turns is a matter of grave concern and the chief minister should know that her deeds will have proportionate and serious consequences,” the NC spokesperson said.

Anantnag counting begins: Mehbooba’s fate to be decided soon

Srinagar: Counting of votes began on Saturday morning for south Kashmir’s Anantnag assembly constituency where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is one of the eight contesting candidates.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFPJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“The strong room where the EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) had been kept in safe custody after the poll process on 22 June, was opened in the presence of the contesting candidates and their representatives in Anantnag,” an official told IANS.

“The counting process has started and the results should be known before midday.”

Eight candidates including Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress and Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of the National Conference are contesting.

The constituency has over 84,000 eligible voters and a total of nearly 28,500 voted on Wednesday despite poll boycott called by separatist politicians and militants.

The by-election in Anantnag was necessitated because of the death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who represented the constituency in the 87-member legislative house.

Sayeed passed away in New Delhi on 7 January after a brief illness.

Mehbooba Mufti assumed power after being sworn in as the Chief Minister of the PDP-BJP coalition government on 4 April.

It is mandatory for a Chief Minister or any other minister in the state to become a member of either house of state’s bicameral legislature within six months of being sworn in.

At present, Mehbooba Mufti represents the south Kashmir Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in parliament.

Jammu and Kashmir govt’s refusal to disband notorious state-run militia likely to spark protests

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday revealed that there were no plans to disband the Village Defense Committees (VDC), a state-run militia, which faces crisis over its constitutional validity with serious criminal charges registered against its members.

The government, in response to the questions raised by two legislators of Opposition, National Conference (NC) in State Assembly, said the VDCs were under review and efforts were being made on a regular basis to improve their working.

“Whenever any member of Village Defense Committees is found to be involved in misusing the weapons, he is immediately disengaged and appropriate action is taken against him,” the government said in its reply.

The state government said a total of 221 cases were registered against the VDC members in Jammu region, which included 23 murder cases, seven rape cases, 15 rioting cases and three cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. “So far, 205 cases have been challaned and the inquest proceedings were underway in four other cases.”

Army personnel train Village Defence Committee members. File photo. PTI

Army personnel train Village Defence Committee members. File photo. PTI

The government revealed that out of the 221 cases, only five accused have been convicted of their crimes, while 42 accused have been acquitted and 121 cases are still under trial.

The VDCs came into focus after its members killed three persons in Rajouri district of Jammu region in December last year, in two separate incidents. The slain included a woman Shamima Akhtar (36), her four-year-old son Tawheed Ahmad of Samote village and a youth leader of NC, Ishtiyaq Choudhary, in Kalakote village. The then government headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had to face severe criticism from all the quarters, including citizens, civil society groups, human rights organizations, Opposition parties and separatists as well.

In the past, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has largely remained silent over the issue of the disbanding of the VDCs, while in the power. But its coalition partner Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has outrightly rejected any such proposals before. After last year’s killings, the Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, a BJP leader, ruled out speculations of disbanding of VDCs. “VDCs have played a major role in combating militancy in remote areas,” he had said.

“If the member of a Force does something wrong, will the entire force be blamed for it?,” Singh told reporter in Jammu last year.

A senior PDP leader and Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, who belongs to the Rajouri district where the killing took place, said the government will not tolerate the use of state weapons to kill innocent people. “The government will disband VDCs as it cannot tolerate the use of state weapons to kill innocent civilians,” he said amid uproar over the three killings by VDCs last year.

What are VDCs?

The VDCs were formed in 1995 during the President’s Rule in the state to combat militancy in remote and far-flung areas. According to the media reports, the VDCs have a strength of 26,567 members in 10 districts of Jammu region and Leh district of Ladakh. VDCs personnel are provided basic training in local Army and police camps and are armed with .303 rifles.

Depending on the size of the village, each VDC consists of 5-12 members, including some Special Police Officers (SPO), who are paid a paltry sum of Rs 3,000 as stipend from the government. The VDCs operating in the villages are predominantly Muslim majority areas while the personnel recruited are from Hindu population which has created a sense of insecurity among the Muslims of these areas.

Human rights violations

The VDCs are accused of many human rights violations which include rape, murder, abduction, rioting, drug trade, etc. According to the newly released statistics by the government, a total of 221 cases stand registered against VDC members in the districts of Kishtwar, Doda, Jammu, Kathua, Poonch, Ramban, Udhmapur and Samba.

Hue and cry by the Opposition

The National Conference, which over the years maintained silence on VDCs, came out all guns blazing over the killing of their youth leader and called for “immediate disbanding” of Village Defense Committees. National Conference Chief Spokesperson, Aga Syed Ruhullah, had accused the PDP-BJP government of using VDCs to “create an atmosphere of insecurity in the state.”

“The coalition was using the Village Defense Committees as political militia to silence the dissent,” Ruhullah had said.

In 2013, when communal riots broke out in Kishtwar on the eve of Eid, the VDCs members were initially accused of instigating the clashes in which three persons were killed and eight injured. “Any decision with regard to the VDCs will be taken by the police,” Omar Abdullah, the then Chief Minister had said after the riots.

After the Kishtwar riots, the current Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti accused Farooq Abdullah of being the brainchild behind VDCs and called for the disbanding of this force.

The National Conference has maintained double standards on VDCs over the years. In 2011, when the Supreme Court of India declared Salwa Judum — a militia created to counter Maoists — unconstitutional, the then J&K government headed by Omar Abdullah had an opportunity to disband VDCs but it chose the other way. Instead, the Omar Abdullah-led government went on to introduce the draft VDC and Police Bill which could have regularized and given them legal cover. Eventually, the government failed to introduce the Bill following the widespread criticism to turn J&K into a police state. Even Omar’s father, Farooq Abdullah, has advocated for giving sophisticated weapons to VDCs in 2001.

Congress leader Aijaz Khan, in a statement, had said the “government was setting a dangerous trend” by allowing the misuse of government weapons. Most of the senior leaders, including Omar Abdullah, preferred to remain tight-lipped on VDC after they killed three persons last year.

Growing protests

Protests and a partial shutdown was observed in December in Kashmir region against the killing of mother-son duo and a youth leader of NC by VDC members in Rajouri district with some of the protests turning violent. Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani has termed the crimes of VDCs a “growing barbarism.”

Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has expressed similar views to disband the VDCs. “There are around 200 murder cases against VDC, still the government continues to patronise them. We demand their immediate disbanding in Jammu, Chenab and Pir Panjal regions,” Mirwaiz tweeted last December. Besides, various civil society groups have also appealed the government to disband the VDCs.

The revelations by the government in the state Assembly over the continuation of the VDC militia is likely to cause clamour from people particularly civil society groups, human rights organizations and separatists.

BJP warns officials against tarnishing Jammu and Kashmir govt’s image

The BJP on Wednesday warned the government officials who are allegedly colluding with the opposition parties and working to tarnish the image of the PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir. “No leniency will be tolerated towards the government officials who are in league with opposition parties and working with an objective to tarnish the image of the PDP-BJP alliance government,” BJP MP from Poonch Jugal Kishore Sharma said during a party meeting here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharma said the party was aware of the issues faced by the people of the Jammu region, which include supply of ration, water and electricity and every effort was being made to ensure that people do not suffer in scorching summers. “As the temperature goes up in summer months, the requirement of water and electricity increases and the BJP ministers have directed the senior officials of Public Health and Engineering (PHE) and Power Development Department (PDD) to remain vigilant round the clock to provide respite to the people,” Sharma said.Party Rajya Sabha Member Shamsher Singh Manhas rejected allegation by opposition that the party ministers were enjoying the weather of Kashmir while Jammu was reeling under heat.”Allegations by opposition that BJP ministers are enjoying in Srinagar are false because the ministers are attending the assembly session and are not there on picnic,” Manhas said. He said parties like NC, Congress and JKNPP have been misleading and provoking the people as they are unable to digest the smooth functioning of the coalition, which is providing corruption-free administration. “The people cannot be misled by these parties, as they have tested them for decades together. The reality is that majority of the leaders of opposition have fled Jammu but entire leadership of State BJP is in winter capital,” Manhas said.

Sikh delegation meets Mehbooba Mufti, demand minority status

A delegation of Sikh leaders today met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and demanded minority status for the Sikhs in the state for their socio-economic upliftment. “A delegation of Sikh leaders met the Chief Minister and expressed concern over the discrimination and negligence of various governments in resolving the issues faced by the community ever since the turmoil erupted in the state,” Chairman, All Parties Sikh Coordination Community (APSCC), Jagmohan Singh Raina, who led the delegation, said in a statement here. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the major demand of the delegation was to ask for minority status for the Sikh community for their socio-economic upliftment. Raina said the provision of National Commission of Minority Act is yet to be implemented in the state, much to the disappointment of the community members. “Sikhs being a microscopic community in Jammu and Kashmir have to fight for their minority status despite the fact that they are considered as a minority in India under the Minority Act of National Minority Commission of India 2C of 1992 along with other communities, including Muslims, Buddhists and Christians,” he said. The APSCC chairman said during the campaign for the 2014 assembly elections, PDP had promised to grant the minority status to Sikhs as per the guidelines of the National Commission for Minorities Act. “Granting of Minorities Act was itself part of the election manifesto of the PDP,” he said, adding they reminded the Chief Minister of the same. “After the elections, Sikhs were optimistic that their long pending problems would be solved but there has been only disappointment so far. However, Chief Minister s assurance today generated another hope,” he said. He said the Sikh community assured the chief minister for the maintenance of peaceful relations with the Muslims of the state. “Our stand is clear that we have and always will live in peace and harmony with the Muslim brothers in state,” he said. The delegation also raised other pending demands of Sikhs, including restoring of teaching-staff for Punjabi language in colleges and schools, issuing of the state subject certificate and other certificates through central authority or Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Office on the pattern of issuing of state subject certificates by Migrant Commissioner. The delegation comprised of prominent Sikh leaders, including Sahitya Academy awardee Paramjit Singh Bali (Kanwal Kashmiri), Joginder Singh Shan (PDP leader and President, Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee), Ajit Singh Mastana, Sant Singh, Gurdyal Singh among others.

Violence returns to south Kashmir days ahead of bypolls

Two consecutive deadly strikes by militants in south Kashmir’s Anantnag marked the return of pre-poll violence in this restive district. The lethal attacks attempted just weeks ahead of the by-elections in this militant hotbed has left at least five security personnel dead and at least eight others with serious injuries.

Two cops of Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed in the militant attack on late Saturday morning. Reports said the incident happened in the main town of Anantnag district near General Bus Stand located just meters away from the police post. The slain cops were identified as ASI Bashir Ahmad and Constable Reyaz Ahmad.

A photo taken by a bystander shows two young militants with guns and bag near the shootout site walking on the road after the attack.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The Anantnag assembly seat left vacant after the death of former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on 7 January, is going for polls on 22 June. Muftis daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, the current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has filed nomination papers from his late father’s constituency. The election has been already deferred twice.

A day earlier on Friday, three Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel were killed and seven other were wounded when militants attacked an army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Bijbehara town of Anantnag district. Hizbul Mujahideen claimed the responsibility of the attack. The same outfit has carried several other attacks in Bijbehara town.

Militants often resort to pre-poll violence to show their disapproval of the electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir. In run up to the 2014 Assembly polls, at least 10 Sarpanchs (village heads) were killed and three injured by militants. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) won majority of the seats in 2014 Assembly elections and formed a coalition government in the state. Dozens of village heads were forced to resign from their posts on facing life threats from various militant outfits.

Often such attacks are carried to cause fear psychosis among voters and they result in the low voter turnout during high-pressure elections with a poll-boycott calls already issued by the separatists.

Hardline separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, Friday appealed people of Anantnag to boycott the polls. Geelani on challenged CM Mehbooba to set him free for anti-election campaign in the district.

“To prove my point, I ask Mehbooba Mufti to release me from house detention and allow me to visit Anantnag constituency just for five days and let me freely meet the people of the area, then everybody will come to know the actual percentage of people’s participation in the military exercise,” Geelani said, in challenge to Mehbooba.

A couple of local residents who spoke to Firstpost expressed concerns about the safety of voters on the election day.

“These attacks will have a bearing on the election process. People fear for their lives after such attacks and are unwilling to come out of their homes on the election day,” Jabbar Malik, a local resident, told Firstpost.

“I will sit at home on the election day. Why put my life in danger for a single vote?” Ali Kamil, another resident of Anantnag, said.

A total number of nine nominations have been received for the Anantnag constituency by-elections. Firebrand legislator of Awami Itehad Party, Engineer Rasheed, who is currently MLA from north Kashmir’s Langate constituency, has also filed nomination papers from the Anantnag constituency against Mehbooba. Besides, opposition National Conference fielded Iftikhar Hussain Misgar while Hilal Ahmad Shah will contest on Congress ticket.

The twin attacks days ahead of the election has left the law and order machinery of the district in tizzy. A police official posted in the district told Firstpost that the security grid is worried but capable to prevent such attacks for a secure and fair election.

“Such attacks are a cause of worry but we have enough man power to assist Election Commission in conducting secure elections,” he said.

The coming days in run up to the election in this district, in which many areas are considered to be the bastions of militants, are crucial as far as the security on the election day is concerned.

Anantnag attack: Pictures of gun-wielding militants shared widely online

Striking for a second time in less than 24 hours in South Kashmir, militants on Saturday killed two police personnel in poll-bound Anantnag from where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is contesting.In a targeted action against security personnel, suspected militants opened fire at a police party in the main bus stand in Anantnag at 11.20 AM injuring Assistant Sub- Inspector Bashir Ahmad and Constable Reyaz Ahmad who were rushed to a hospital where they succumbed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The attack comes in less than 24 hours when militants of banned Hizbul Mujahideen ambushed a BSF convoy at neighbouring Goriwan area at Bijbehara killing three of its personnel. Today’s attack in Anantnag, 52 Kms from here, is seen as an attempt by the militants to scare the voters as Mehbooba is seeking her election to the state assembly from here.Meanwhile, pictures have surfaced online purportedly of the gun-wielding militants walking on a road after carrying out the attack that left two policemen dead. A police official said they were aware of the photographs and were trying to ascertain the identity of the militants involved.TwitterThe seat, where elections are now scheduled to be held on June 22, had fallen vacant after the death of former Chief Minister and her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on January 7. Mehbooba is among nine candidates in the fray.Police and CRPF have cordoned off the area and were carrying out searches at various places to nab the culprits. Opposition National Conference hit out at PDP-BJP government and said “instead of making tall claims of improved ground situation on papers, the state government should do something concrete on ground and ensure safety and security of people”.Party spokesperson Junaid Mattu said with elections round the corner in the assembly, ongoing tourist season and forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, “one expects that security should be at its best. But every now and then, loopholes within the security establishment stand exposed”.State Congress Chief G A Mir questioned the PDP-BJP government credentials in tackling the law and order situation saying “fear is being created in the mind of the voters and it does not augur well for a healthy democracy”. The attacks also come against the backdrop of a boycott call for elections given by hardline pro-Pakistan Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.Police and civil administration officials were among those who paid homage to the deceased in a wreath laying ceremony held at district police line Anantnag.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti files nomination for Anantanag by-poll

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday filed her nomination papers for by-poll to Anantnag assembly segment as she seeks to become a member of the state legislature within the mandatory period of six months from her swearing-in as CM.57-year-old Mehbooba, who is currently a Lok Sabha member from the south Kashmir constituency of Anantnag, is contesting from the seat where by-poll was necessitated due to death of her father and the then chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on January 7 this year. After filing her nomination papers before the returning officer for Anantnag assembly segment, the PDP chief voiced hope that the people will repose faith in her father and elect her so that she can complete the work started by him.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People showed their trust in Mufti sahab and gave him an opportunity to be the chief minister. I am hopeful that people will again repose their faith in him and give me an opportunity to complete the work left by Mufti sahab,” said Mehbooba who took over the reins of the PDP-BJP government on April 4 this year, three months after Sayeed’s demise.
ALSO READ Anantnag bypolls first popularity test for Mehbooba Mufti after joining hands with BJPCongress has fielded Hilal Ahmad Shah while National Conference has nominated Iftikhar Misger to take on the Chief Minister. Wednesday is the last date for filing nomination while scrutiny of papers will be conducted on Thursday. The candidates can withdraw their nomination till June 4. The voting will be held on June 19 and counting of votes on June 22.Mehbooba has been elected to the state assembly three times in the past 20 years with her first victory coming in 1996 elections from Bijbehara segment as a Congress candidate. She has never lost an Assembly election and her only electoral defeat so far was in 1999 Lok Sabha elections when she lost to arch rival and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.
ALSO READ Kashmiri Pandits row: BJP defends Mehbooba Mufti, asserts alliance under no pressureShe resigned from the Assembly in 1999 to float regional Peoples Democratic Party along with her father. She won the 2002 Assembly polls from Pahalgam segment in Anantnag district but resigned two years later after she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag. Her father won the by-poll to Pahalgam seat held that year. She won the 2008 assembly elections from Wachi assembly segment in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and completed first full six-year term in the House till 2014. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from south Kashmir in 2014 general elections and did not contest the Assembly elections held later that year.

Jammu and Kashmir: State govt committed to return, settlement of Kashmiri Pandits

Jammu and Kashmir governor N N Vohra on Wednesday said the PDP-BJP government was committed to the return and settlement of displaced persons, including Kashmiri Pandits. “The government is committed to the return and settlement of displaced persons, including the Kashmiri Pandits who are a part of the ethnic diversity and must be rehabilitated in a manner which fully addresses their sense of insecurity,” Vohra said in his joint address to the legislatures which marked the beginning of five-week budget session.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the issue of refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Vohra said assistance has been received from the Government of India for providing humanitarian relief to them. “The issue has been hanging fire for the past six decades. The modalities for the distribution of this relief are being finalised in consultation with the Government of India,” he said.In the case of West Pakistan refugees, which is another serious humanitarian issue, a committee is presently deliberating on the possible measures which can be provided to them for sustenance and livelihood support, the Governor said.

Why killing of three cops in Srinagar hurts Jammu and Kashmir tourism

Srinagar: Even as the Jammu and Kashmir government prepares to massively increase footprint of both local and foreign tourists this year, the daring attacks carried out by unidentified militants on the cops Tuesday could well trample its plans to have a bumper tourist season.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police K Rajindra Kumar paying tributes to the three policemen who were shot dead by militants in twin strikes in the summer capital Srinagar on Monday. PTIDirector General of Jammu and Kashmir police K Rajindra Kumar paying tributes to the three policemen who were shot dead by militants in twin strikes in the summer capital Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police K Rajindra Kumar paying tributes to the three policemen who were shot dead by militants in twin strikes in the summer capital Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Three personnel of Jammu and Kashmir Police, including an officer, were killed in two attacks in three hours in Zadibal locality and Tengpora area of Srinagar, rattling a lull prevailing over the city for some time now.

Early on Tuesday morning suspected militants struck at two different places in the heart of Srinagar city. The first attack took place in Zadibal locality, where two policemen were shot dead by suspected militants.

According to eye witnesses, two motorcycle borne youths stopped in front of a tea stall near a police post, where two policeman assistant sub-inspector Ghulam Mohammad and head constable Nazir Ahmad, were having tea, when the attackers shot them dead.

As the disturbing pictures of the killed policemen were being ferociously circulated on social networking sites, the news of the death of third policeman came in from Tengpora area of Srinagar, where the assailant even decamped with his service rifle.

The killings come at a time when police in Srinagar have been searching for some missing boys from different areas of Srinagar, sources in Kashmir Police, said.

The state government, according to officials, has been working hard these days to persuade tourists and filmmakers to return to Kashmir Valley, but these attacks are likely to have a bearing on the minds of both local and foreign tourists.

National Conference working president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah termed the killings as “worrying”.

Omar asked Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP government to reassure residents of Srinagar and visitors and allay their fears.

Militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen called a news agency to take responsibility of the attack. Its operational spokesperson Burhanuddin Wani told the news agency that the attack was carried out by a “special squad of the outfit. Besides, killing three policemen of Special Operation Group, the militants managed to decamp with a rifle of a slain policeman,” he said.

The last such attack took place in 2013 when two policemen were shot dead at Hari Singh High Street.

Owing to the promotional activities of the tourism department of state, 92,7815 tourists, including 28,954 foreigners, visited Kashmir in 2015, official data says.

To improve footfall of tourists this summer, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Monday sought cooperation from all tourism and business stakeholders. Seeking support in maintaining peace at all costs, the chief minister said the state’s tourism and business fraternity have to suffer the brunt when atmosphere of peace is disturbed in the Valley.

But MY Chapri, former chairman of Houseboat Owners Association, told Firstpost that it was surprising for him how at the beginning of every tourist season there is suddenly an attack in Kashmir, “which works well in favour of other tourist destinations” and decreases the number of tourists visiting the state.

“Today’s attack could well deter tourists like every attack does from coming to Kashmir. Outsiders have little idea that no tourist has ever been harmed in Kashmir, but still people get scared to come to Kashmir,” he said.

“I pray that at least this year we would witness an increase in the number of tourists coming to Kashmir. We are hoping for a revival of tourist industry in Kashmir after the devastating floods. The government is also trying to help,” he said.

Mufti who holds the tourism portfolio has been pushing for revival in both the infrastructure and “attitude” of players towards the tourists.

She told a delegation of industry players on Monday that they have to reach out to tourists with open arms, “so that they experience the rich hospitality for which we are famous all over the world.”

But no one knew that on the next day the militants would strike in the heart of city and imprint fear not just on just in the minds of locals but tourists too.

State government officials say the attacks were designed to scare away tourists in the peak travel season. However, the attacks happened far away from the tourist spots in the city.

“When the Handwara incident happened we had almost 50 percent booking cancelled. Outside media tends to exaggerate things as everyone is being killed on the streets of Srinagar. Naturally these shootouts also would have an impact on the industry,” Javed Burza, president, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF), told Firstpost.

“We are expecting a tourist season better than then last five years. Hope we there would be no more attacks,” he said.

Kashmir needs political dialogue, govt should reach out to the people of the Valley

A statement widely attributed to former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld is that ‘India will never give up its claim on Kashmir’. The Indian State will pump in more military and financial resources, if required, to keep the Tricolour flying in Srinagar. Similarly, it is given that Pakistan, come what way, will never give up its claim on Kashmir and will never stop providing assistance to Kashmir and foment trouble for the Indian military.

What is unknown is what the future holds for the people of Kashmir. And, this uncertainty that continued for nearly a decade under UPA government, in spite of the hopes raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on starting a political dialogue with the people of the state, and has unfortunately continued in the last two years since BJP came to power at the Centre.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government must start a conversation with the people. In a state with over 60 percent youth population, there is a need for them to be engaged and a dialogue initiated, and the people must be made to believe that Delhi is keen to listen to them. Any interest or initiative from the Government of India to talk to the people is however missing. Having decided to sideline and ignore leaders of Hurriyat Conference and separatists, the Modi government must make a connection with the people.

Srinagar district has over 98 percent urban population and this has been the centre of protests and demonstrations. Wonder why young Kashmiris are always on streets and seemingly protesting?

Over 3,50,000 Kashmiri youth are unemployed

According to 2015 figures of J&K Planning and Development Department, around three lakh fifty thousand (350,000) Kashmiris are unemployed. Of these, 30,000 are unemployed graduates. Over 2,30,000 Kashmiris have registered in employment exchanges (2014 September figure) and waiting for the elusive jobs.

Given the security situation, corporates stay away from the Valley. Government jobs, too, are difficult to get. Late Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed conceded that government recruitment process was very slow. There were 4,000 vacancies for which 1.75 lakh people took different recruitment exams and tests.

In a state where agriculture is the main occupation that has around 70 percent of population dependent for survival, this year the farm sector is expected to see negative growth. Economic Survey of 2014-15 by J&K State shows that agriculture to decelerate to negative 16 percent.

The PDP, after aligning with the BJP has been unsuccessful it addressing the problem of compensation to flood-affected people even two years later. In last three months, when the state was under President’s Rule, Governor NN Vohra actively sought administrative help to provide relief and also to expedite dredging of Jhelum River to clear accumulated silt.

What are the Government of India and the state government doing? Kashmir is not UP, Gujarat, Haryana or Tamil Nadu. It is a region which has faced turmoil for decades and where Pakistani Army is involved in keeping militancy alive. And, the people of Kashmir Valley are not particularly fond of India. In fact, as recent months protests have shown, the youth have become active opponents of the Indian State and many of them are not aligned to any separatist faction or militant group. Problems need to be addressed and not ignored. How can flood relief not be distributed for months? How can Centre be slow in releasing money for compensation?

In 1993 as a young journalist with The Economic Times, I was in western Uttar Pradesh covering a crucial Assembly election, months after the demolition of Babri Masjid which had led the Narasimha Rao government to dismiss governments led by BJP in the states of UP, MP and Himachal Pradesh. It was then that the militants in Jammu & Kashmir burnt the much revered Charar-e-Sharif shrine leading to serious law and order problem.

I was asked to digress from covering UP politics for a day and instead get a sense from the Muslims of western UP as to their reaction to events in Kashmir. What I discovered was an interesting facet about how Hindus and in particular, Muslims outside the state perceive Kashmir and its people. Most people I spoke to, across a couple of districts with sizable Muslim population, showed little interest or concern for the people of Kashmir. A common response was, “They are different. We have no connection with them”.

Absence of any kind of “connection” between people living in rest of India with Kashmiris is largely responsible for the lack of empathy, sympathy or interest in events of the Valley which are mostly confined to the inside pages of newspapers, where protests, killings and clashes with police and army are seen as routine.

So are the events of last one week where young men have died in police firing leading to shut down in Kupwara and Handwara. Different versions of events and its varied interpretation will continue for days to come and again it will be forgotten. Until the next big clash or killings grab headlines.

NIT developments have also now receded in the background as the PDP-BJP governments tries to take hold of the situation. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, once seen as a political leader willing to take up cudgels on behalf of the majority, has now ended up like other political leaders, into issuing “strongly worded” statements that express regret at “unprovoked firing on protestors”.

In this background, author Chetan Bhagat’s piece in The Times of India calling on Kashmiris to embrace India has touched a raw nerve among mainland Indians who believe that Kashmiri people need to accept India as their country. Frankly, it is India that also needs to accept Kashmir as part of their country where people are not agents of Pakistan, but are deeply unhappy and angry with the way India’s political elite and governments treat them.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has lost her credibility among many in Kashmir due to the manner in which she delayed and then succumbed to taking over as CM after three months of dilly-dallying

Protest for jobs by villagers affected by Kishen Ganga Project

A protest that has been on for months, but has not caught the attention of Delhi media is related to compensation and jobs for people whose land was acquired by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in 2009 for building the Kishen Ganga Hydro Electric Project in Bandipora district of North Kashmir.

Last week, residents of Kralpora village entered inside the powerhouse and other operative units and forcibly stopped the work. Local news media reports state that “as per agreement, which was approved by the then DC Bandipora, Mohammad Maqsood Zargar, 163 persons of affected families were to be employed in the corporation, but only 38 were employed,” said Ghulam Mohi-ud-din.

He said that those 38 persons employed in the corporation were later disengaged from their duties and the corporation engages non-locals in their place. He said locals have been either appointed as helpers or labourers in the company, while the non-locals have been appointed for prime positions.”

They have appealed to the chief minister for help but she is too busy trying to settle down in her new job. Kishen Ganga protest is small compared to bigger protests in Srinagar district but it needs to be addressed and a mutually acceptable solution found. Else, it won’t be long before these people also join the disenchanted in other parts of Kashmir.

Government of India needs to engage the people of Kashmir in a political dialogue. It cannot leave the task to PDP-BJP government. When Prime Minister Modi visits Jammu later in the week, he might want to use the opportunity to reach out to the people of the Valley.

To fight separatists, BJP entered into coalition with PDP: Arun Jaitley

Days after PDP and BJP formed the government here afresh, Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said his party had entered into the coalition despite “totally different” ideologies of the two parties to fight separatist forces and serve Jammu and Kashmir. He said BJP has “emotional and ideological” relationship with Jammu and Kashmir and would never compromise with any type of separatism.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have a political ideology that we will never compromise with any type of separatism. We will oppose it,” said Jaitley, Minister for Finance and Information and Broadcasting, while attending a party programme. “Today it is a political reality that the mainstream political parties and the people of Kashmir region come together in our fight against separatism and we have to use this coalition in that direction,” he said as he urged all political forces in the state to come together and fight the forces of separatism.Jaitley said it is “known to everybody and our friends in the PDP also know that our ideologies are totally different but in such a political scenario to serve the country and the state, BJP got the opportunity to serve the state.” His comments on coalition came less than a week after PDP and BJP formed afresh the government headed by Mehbooba Mufti after nearly three months of uncertainty.The two parties ran a coalition government headed by PDP leader Mufti Sayeed for 10 months before his sudden death on January 7. Thereafter, there was wrangling between the two parties, leading to uncertainty for sometime.Responding to questions, Jaitley said, “I will not comment about the country but will comment on Jammu and Kashmir. BJP not only has a political relationship but an emotional and ideological relationship with Jammu and Kashmir.” He recalled that when Jan Sangh, the parent party of BJP, was formed, the first issue it raised was about Jammu and Kashmir and the leaders made sacrifices.”The nationalistic path that we are following, its foundation was laid by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Prem Nath Dogra,” the Union Minister said.”Today, it is a unique situation and in which the people of the state gave a verdict during elections in which the maximum seats in Jammu were won by us. In Kashmir, PDP got most number of seats and if we do arithmetic of all four major parties, the arithmetic decided which government would be formed so it was dictated by the arithmetic,” he said.He said it was a hard situation, as to how to move forward, and the political leadership in state and in Delhi had to accept the challenge.”I am of the opinion that several people contributed to making the state unit of the party strong,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti to meet Rajnath Singh today

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the MHA on Tuesday evening. This is the first meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief who took oath as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4.Moreover, this is the first time Mehbooba is holding an administrative post in the state or at the national level, as so far she had limited herself to party work.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government formation has ended the three-month long political crisis in the state which started after the death of former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on January 7.The 2014 state elections threw up a hung assembly in which the PDP won 28 seats, mainly from the Kashmir Valley, and the BJP 25, almost all from the Jammu region, leading to a coalition government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.Mufti took the oath in Jammu along with 17 cabinet ministers and six ministers of state (MoS). Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Nirmal Singh also took oath as deputy chief minister, as per the alliance agreement between the two parties.

Tiranga March, a BJP double-game?

At a time when the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir was trying to douse fires at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, elsewhere in the country, the BJP was milking the issue to keep the heat on the debate over nationalism and patriotism.In the national capital, BJP national secretary RP Singh flagged off a ‘Tiranga March’ to express solidarity with the non-Kashmiri students of NIT, who were beaten up and denied permission to march out of their campus to unfurl the Tricolour on Srinagar’s Hazratbal street.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The march, organised by the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (BSKS), but backed by the Delhi BJP, will reach Srinagar on Sunday. From there, it will proceed to the NIT campus, probably exacerbating the murky situation for the PDP-BJP coalition in Srinagar.In a clever strategy to circumvent the blame of running against its own government in Srinagar, the BJP has brought in the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to own up the march. The DSGMC is currently being managed by the Akali Dal-BJP combine.Atleast 100 people from 12 states started off from Delhi on Saturday morning to reach Jammu in the night. “Some 400 people from Jammu and Punjab are likely to join us. We are going to express our solidarity with the non-Kashmiri students at NIT. We are going there to give them the national flag,” said Tajender Singh Bagga of the BSKS.Bagga, in the past, had been in the news for allegedly attacking lawyer Prashant Bhushan in 2014, over his demand for a referendum on the presence of Indian Army in Srinagar. Bagga is one of the staunch supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.Shilpi Tiwari, a former aide of human resource development minister Smriti Irani, is also steering the march with Bagga. The two had started a campaign on Facebook and WhatsApp.Disassociating itself from any political grouping, Tiwari said it was a social media endeavour and that they had neither approached the gurudwara nor the BJP. “We did not approach RP Singh. He probably became a part of it because he felt for it,” she says.Singh, however, confirmed that he was approached by Tiwari and that he participated in his individual capacity and not as a BJP representative. “We are not backing the march. The crisis is being handled by the state government. I went there because I felt for the flag. My presence has nothing to do with my party,” he said.Like the BJP representative, DSGMC too is not willing to openly associate itself with the event and say that gurudwaras are open for all. “The group approached us because they wanted to seek the blessings of the Guru before starting off. We welcome everyone,” said the committee’s spokesperson.One bus and eight cars started off from Delhi after their morning langar at Gurudwara Rakabganj. The group is being hosted by the gurudwara committees along their way. At Srinagar, it is the gurudwara trust that is organising for their logistics and food.Other than people from Delhi and adjoining regions, youth from West Bengal, Gujarat, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh are participating.Sanjukta, the only woman participant to join the march from Delhi, came all the way from Kolkata. The 29-year-old felt that NIT students were victimised. Even while her family did not approve of her decision, she chose to take four days’ off from work to join the march. “I have been following the whole NIT episode very closely. I am going there to extend my support,” she said.Like Sanjukta, Harshal Purohit has travelled from Ahmedabad, leaving his wife and a 7-month-old daughter behind. “I feel for the Tricolour. Kashmir is a part of India and nobody should be stopped from hoisting the national flag there,” he said.

On her first day as CM, Mehbooba drops four senior ministers from her cabinet

On the day she created history by becoming the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti went into an overdrive and cracked whip against the dissidents by dropping four senior PDP leaders and former ministers of the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s cabinet.Mehbooba dropped PDP treasurer and former works minister Syed Altaf Bukhari, former revenue minister Javid Mustafa Mir and former ministers of state Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majid Paddar. Mir was termed as giant killer after he defeated former chief minister Omar Abdullah from Sonawar constituency in 2014.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Instead, she brought in two new faces as ministers of state. MLA Pampore Zahoor Ahmad Mir, whose father was assassinated by the militants during Mufti Sayeed’s first tenure as chief minister from 2002-2005, was inducted as minister of state. Mehbooba’s close relative and MLA Dooru Farooq Andrabi was also inducted to fill the vacancy in the council of ministers.Sources said Mehbooba wanted to convey to rank and file of the party that no dissidence or indiscipline will be tolerated. Sources said some of the MLAs in her party had raised a banner of revolt over her blow-hot-blow-cold attitude about government formation during the last three months.Even as Mehbooba tried to stem the rot, the MP from Srinagar Tariq Karra boycotted the swearing in ceremony apparently to protest the inclusion of some of the ministers in her cabinet. Sources said Karra, who had mend fences with Mehbooba after Mufti’s, death wanted two more senior ministers to be dropped.Earlier history was created when Mehbooba Mufti was sworn in as the first woman chief minister of restive state. The 56-year-old sitting Lok Sabha member from Anantnag constituency took the oath of the office and secrecy along with the 22 cabinet and ministers of state after a three months hiatus following the death of her father and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.Of the total ministers 12 are from PDP and 11 from BJP. BJP too dropped two former ministers and brought in two new faces. An independent MLA from Udhampur who was minister in Mufti government too was dropped.Soon after taking oath Mehbooba drove to civil secretariat and formally assumed office. Chairing her first meeting of council of ministers, Mehbooba spelt out her mantra of `perform or perish’. “The people are very vigilant today and keep it in mind that if you fail to perform they will teach you a lesson in next elections,” she saidMehbooba said the PDP-BJP coalition government would work with fresh resolve to accomplish Mufti Sahab’s unfinished agenda of peace, harmony and development for Jammu and Kashmir. “Development, good governance and corruption-free administration will remain the key focus of her government and there will be no compromise on it”, she said.

Mehbooba Mufti sworn in as first woman CM of Jammu and Kashmir: Here’s how five women see this development

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, 56, on Monday was sworn in as the 13th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and became the first women to occupy the post. She took the oath of office in Urdu in Raj Bhawan Jammu. Mehbooba, born on 22 May, 1959, is the eldest of four siblings. A single parent, she is mother of two. Ms Mufti fought her first elections from the ancestral Bijbehara assembly constituency in 1996 in South Kashmir on Congress ticket.

Firstpost asked five women to share their views and expectations they have from the J&K first women Chief Minister.

Rekha Chowdhary

Professor, Jammu University

It is a cause of great celebration for the women of Jammu and Kashmir that Mehbooba Mufti is set to be the first Woman Chief Minister of the state. For a state which has registered critically declining sex ration, has the record of being one of those states which has poorest literacy rate and has very poor representation of women in political decision making — it is a matter of great achievement that a woman will occupy the highest political office.

Rekha Chowdhary. Facebook

Rekha Chowdhary. Facebook

Rather than this remaining an individual achievement, this should be translated into a gender advantage. One may therefore expect that state policies henceforth are much more gender-sensitive and would aim at social, economic and political empowerment of women; that state attention is focused not only on improving the sex ratio but also on dealing with increasing crimes against women, particularly the domestic and sexual violence; that women are better represented in political offices and that principle of reservation of one-third seats is not only fully applied to the Panchayats at all the levels (more particularly to the level of Sarpanches) but the state takes the lead in reserving one-third seats for women in the state legislature.

As a person who has overcome her gender limitations and evolved as a leader in her own right, it is fair to expect that rising above her position as a leader of a regional party, she can now emerge as a tall leader of the whole of the state. One would hope that she is capable of bridging the multiple divides that haunt the coalition from within. The most crucial will be her role in handling the polarisation within the coalition partners along regional, ideological and communal lines and directing the energies of the government towards providing efficient governance.

Gazalla Noor Amin

CEO & Founder at Fasiam Agro Farms

Kashmir needs a strong women leader. Mehbooba Mufti has already made a considerable mark as a party president and now we expect her to make a mark as a Chief Minister. She was a party leader till now, but now she is the leader of everyone, notwithstanding ideologies and political affiliations.

Gazalla Noor Amin. Facebook

Gazalla Noor Amin. Facebook

We have aspirations beyond good administration now. First and foremost, we look forward to a corruption free government,  and we hope that the example comes from her council of ministers. We look forward to wise, long-term policies and a gentle iron hand. A transparent institutionalized system, where processes move by default, needs to be created so even if people in chairs may change, the system still delivers nevertheless.

One of the good ways of doing this is to put the right people for the right job, irrespective of their “political affiliations”. We have no dearth of good honest competent officers. We had no expectations from the Hon’ble Governor, yet he delivered. Now she has to set another bench mark for providing transparent governance. We are expecting her to create an atmosphere where better business and livelihood ecosystem is provided. This would mean improved policies (after proper consultation with stakeholders), better improved infrastructure, communication and an efficient speedy single window system not just on paper but in reality. We will also be waiting for a change, maybe a slow one but a sure change.

Sakina Itto

National Conference leader

We both were elected to state assembly in 1996, she from Bijbehara and I was elected from Noorbad constituency in south Kashmir. There will be a change now, after she becomes CM, in the way she has practiced politics.

Sakina Itto. Facebook

Sakina Itto. Facebook

Today she got the seat of chief minister because of her father while has she had earned the post of the party president. There was a time when if Mufti Sahib would make any mistake she would take a stand because she was always outside government. As party president she spoke in favour of Afzal Guru, as a Chief Ministershe can’t do that now. She used to tell people wherever she would go that the issue of Kashmir needs to be resolved because young boys were dying everyday. Can she repeat the same sentences now?

I would expect her to work for the inclusion of more women into mainstream politics. When both of us were campaigning in 1996, she for PDP and I as an NC candidate, we travelled in Para military vehicles. The only campaigning material I had at that time was NC flag. We have come a long way today.  It is better for women to be in mainstream politics than it was in 1990’s. She understands that and should work for their inclusion in politics.

Afsana Rashid

Writer and Journalist | Author of Waiting for Justice: Widows and Half Widows

Afsana Rashid. Facebook

Afsana Rashid. Facebook

As the stage is all set for Mehbooba Mufti to take over as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a great opportunity for her to come up to the expectations of her people. Being the Chief Minister of the state, it is her responsibility to look into the challenges faced by common people and address their basic issues. Even in the era of cyber-age, people suffer on account of safe drinking water, bad roads, poor health infrastructure and above all, injustice. Corruption, lack of accountability, unemployment and favouritism are eating the very vitals of the society and these issues are gender neutral. Also it is responsibility of Chief Minister to secure overall well-being of all people, men or women, which the Chief Minister represents. This post is above gender.

Various human rights issues too need to be looked into so that the victims are not further victimized and culprits are brought to book. Above all, right to live with dignity needs to be uphold. That is what most of us would like her to do as the first women Chief Minister of the Jammu and Kashmir.

Parveena Ahangar

Chairperson, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons

Parveena Ahangar. Facebook

Parveena Ahangar. Facebook

She too is a mother and would go to people’s houses when someone would die or was killed by security forces. She could have felt our pain, she could understand the pain of losing a son, or a husband, but instead of that she never bothered about us. We are not fighting for electricity, infrastructure, or roads, we are fighting for our missing children and husbands. We have been crying for help for a decade now. We have been crying in that park for so many years for our loved ones. There are women whose husbands are missing, who can’t remarry, sons whose father are missing, mothers whose sons are missing.

I personally don’t think she would make much difference but if she wants to, let her set up a commission, which would look into the cases of disappearance. Even if they give back the bones of our children we would be satisfied. Can she do that, when we know mainstream politicians has little to offer us. Would she be able to that?

Hope Mehbooba Mufti-led government fulfills Kashmiri people’s dreams: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated the newly formed government in Jammu and Kashmir.”Congratulations and best wishes to Mehbooba Mufti, Dr. Nirmal Singh and all those who took oath today. May the new Government of J and K leave no stone unturned in fulfilling dreams and aspirations of the people and take J and K to new heights of progress,” Prime Minister Modi said in a tweet.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took oath today morning as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.Mehbooba succeeds her father Mufti Mohammad Saeed who died in January this year.At least 23 ministers took oath along with Mufti, including members of the BJP.The election the state in December 2014 gave no party a majority in the 70 member J and K assembly.The PDP, with 28 seats and the BJP with 25 had formed government after weeks of hard negotiations last year.

J&K gets its first woman CM in Mehbooba Mufti; BJP gets more Cabinet berths

Jammu: After weeks of conjecture, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti on Monday took oath as Jammu and Kashmir’s first woman chief minister along with 22 ministers, with an increased strength for BJP in the Cabinet.

Dressed in black, 56-year-old Mehbooba took the oath of office and secrecy in Urdu followed by BJP’s Nirmal Singh, who will again be the Deputy Chief Minister in the new PDP-BJP government formed three months after the state was put under Governor’s rule following the demise of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Governor N N Vohra also administered the oath to 21 other Ministers. BJP’s share increased this time in the Cabinet from six to eight berths and three Ministers of State (MoS) while PDP has nine Cabinet Ministers instead of 11 last time.

Mehbooba Mufti takes oath as J&K chief minister. ANI

Mehbooba Mufti takes oath as J&K chief minister. ANI

Mehbooba’s party has got three MoS berths, same as the last time.

In the last government, BJP had a total of 11 ministers – six in Cabinet, three MoS and two with independent charge.

Sajjad Gani Lone, son of late separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone, remained in the Cabinet in the BJP quota.

PDP has dropped Altaf Bukhari and Javed Mustafa from the ministry.

Former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar, Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Jitendra Singh were among the host of VIPs present at the function held at Raj Bhavan.

However, PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra and Congress boycotted the ceremony.

BJP promoted Chering Dorje and Abdul Gani Kohli as Cabinet ministers. They were Ministers of State with independent charge in the Sayeed-led government.

The saffron party has Prakash Kumar and Shyam Lal Chowdhury among the new faces in the cabinet. BJP leader Sukhnandan was dropped from the list of Ministers besides Minister of State Pawan Gupta, an independent MLA from Udhampur, who has been replaced by Ajay Nanda.

Law Minister in the Sayeed’s ministry, Basharat Bukhari of PDP, took oath in Kashmiri again this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his congratulatory wishes to the new ministers on Twitter.

Mehbooba assuming office as 13th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir is a landmark event in the history of the state and the country. She is the first woman to head the state and the second Muslim woman to become the Chief Minister of any state in India.

Syeda Anwara Taimur was the first Muslim woman CM in Assam in 1980 and continued to hold the chair till June 30, 1981.

The new government has also retained two woman ministers from the earlier coalition— Priya Seth (BJP) and Asiya Nakash (PDP).

Apart from Nirmal Singh, who will lead the BJP flock in the coalition, Chandra Prakash, Bali Bhagat, Lal Singh, Dorje, Abdul Gani Kolhi, Ajay Handa, Sunil Kumar Sharma are also a part of the new government.

From the PDP’s side, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Abdul Rehman Veeri Abdul Haq Khan, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, Haseeb Drabu, Syed Naeem Akhtar Andrabi and Zahoor Ahmad Mir were sworn in as ministers.

The cermony had ministers taking oath in different languages. While Mehbooba and Nirmal Singh stuck to Urdu and Hindi respectively, Bukhari took his oath in Kashmiri.

BJP’s Lal Singh took oath in Punjabi while Dorje chose English.

The two parties came together last year with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed heading the government for 10 months till his death on 7 January.

Mehbooba, who is presently a member of Lok Sabha, will have to resign from her parliamentary seat and will get six months to secure membership of one of the two houses of the state legislature.

The PDP-BJP coalition has 56 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly.

The PDP has 27 members while BJP has 25. Peoples’ Conference has two MLAs while two other independents are supporting the coalition.

The revival of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state – after three months of stalemate – became possible after several rounds of hectic negotiations between the two parties and apparent intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Following Sayeed’s death, Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state as the PDP and the BJP did not stake fresh claim for government formation in the state.

Initially, the two parties maintained that Mehbooba was not in a position to take over the reins of the state as she was mourning her father’s death.

However, after the mourning period was over, the PDP said it was looking for assurances and confidence building measures from the Centre on implementation of Agenda of Alliance — common minimum programme of the two parties — before forming the new government.

Hopes of ending the deadlock were raised when BJP general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Srinagar in a chartered plane to meet Mehbooba Mufti late in the evening on February 17 but nothing came out of the hour-long meeting.

The next high level contact between the two parties came on March 19 when Mehbooba met BJP president Amit Shah.

Again the two parties failed to resolve the issues, forcing the BJP to publicly admit for the first time that no headway could be made on government formation.

In fact, several PDP leaders went to extent of saying the prospects of an alliance with the BJP were all but over.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the PDP president went to meet the Prime Minister three days later and decks were cleared for the formation of the government.

Doting daughter to fiery leader: Here’s all you need to know about Mehbooba Mufti, J&K’s first woman CM

Jammu: A leader with grassroots-level popularity, Mehbooba Mufti turned Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into a regional force and emerged from the shadow of her illustrious father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to head Jammu and Kashmir, the first woman Chief Minister of the state.

A law graduate, 56-year-old Mehbooba took a plunge into mainstream politics of the state in 1996 by joining Congress, along with her father, at a time when militancy was at its peak.

She is credited with growth of the PDP with some observers arguing that she outshone her father in connecting with the common people, especially the youths.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti takes oath as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on Monday. ANI

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti takes oath as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on Monday. ANI

She was also accused of playing the soft-separatist card.

PDP chose the green colour for the party flag and adopted Pen- Inkpot election symbol of the Muslim United Front (MUF) of 1987, but these moves found some resonances on the ground among the Kashmir residents.

Heading a PDP-BJP government formed with an alliance between two idealogical extremes, Mehbooba faces a challenging task ahead as she will strive to carry forward her father’s ‘healing touch’ legacy.

A mother of two daughters, she assumed an image of a fiery leader and won her first Assembly election as a Congress candidate from her home segment of Bijbehara.

She then played a key role in her father’s victory as Congress candidate in Lok Sabha elections of 1998 when he defeated National Conference’s Mohammad Yousuf Taing from south Kashmir.

As Sayeed felt an urge to do something for return of peace to Kashmir, Mehbooba was by his side and the father-daughter duo floated their regional party – the PDP – in 1999.

They took along some leaders disgruntled with National Conference and many from Congress, a party where Sayeed spent most of his six-decade political career.

From there, Mehbooba took on the responsibility of building the new party.

Mehbooba used to visit the homes of those killed in militancy-related violence and immediately struck a chord with the people, especially women, often lending them a shoulder to cry on.

In the 2002 Assembly polls, termed as watershed in the state, PDP bagged 16 seats – most of them from south where Mehbooba had extensively campaigned and consolidated the support for her party and her father was sworn-in as the chief minister with the support of his former party Congress.

Two years later, Mehbooba contested Parliamentary polls from south Kashmir and won her first Lok Sabha election.

She contested Lok Sabha elections from Srinagar in 1999 but was defeated by her bete noire Omar Abdullah. Then Amarnath land row engulfed the state, Mehbooba played an important role in persuading her father to pull out from the coalition government with Congress headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In 2008 assembly elections, she contested and won from Wachi segment of Shopian district of south Kashmir. Her party increased the tally to 21 seats but preferred to stay in the opposition.

It was the National Conference which formed a coalition government with Congress, which was still smarting from the PDP ‘betrayal’ following the Amarnath land row.

Mehbooba consolidated her party’s support base in the years spent in opposition, highlighting the alleged failures of the NC-led coalition government.

She was considered a very active Opposition leader, the result of which was seen in 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the party won all the three seats in the Valley.

Months later, PDP emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly elections bagging 28 seats, paving the way for her father to become Chief Minister for the second time.

In March 2015, after months of hectic negotiations, the party formed government in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with BJP.

Although Mehbooba kept a low profile post government formation, she assumed a more central role after reports of Sayeed’s ill health surfaced. She was seen by her father’s side at most public functions.

As Sayeed’s health deteriorated, there began speculation about a change of guard in the party and credence to these speculation was given by Sayeed himself when he hinted that his daughter could take over the reins — not by virtue of being his daughter but by her hard work.

Following Sayeed’s death on 7 January, the state was put under Governor’s Rule and the Assembly was kept in suspended animation on 8 January.

PDP then sought assurances on a timeframe for implementation of the Agenda of Alliance from the Centre before renewing its alliance with BJP for government formation.

Can cut off heads of those refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata’ slogan, if not for rule of law: Ramdev

Baba Ramdev has potentially added to the much debated Bharat Mata controversy. Referring to Asaduddin Owasi’s remark on the Bharat Mata slogan, the yoga guru on Sunday said, “If somebody says that ‘even if you cut off my head, I won’t say Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.. .I want to say there is a rule of law and we respect constitution otherwise we can cut off hundreds and thousands of heads.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The Bharat Mata slogan controversy began after AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi replied to RSS head Mohan Bhagwat call for chanting the slogan. “I don’t chant that slogan. What are you going to do, Bhagwat sahab,” Owaisi said, at a public rally in Udgir tehsil of Latur district last month. “I won’t utter that (slogan) even if you put a knife to my throat,” Owaisi said, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier today said “those unwilling to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ have no right to stay in the country”. He later clarified his remark and said that the media put out only a section of his speech with the intention of “creating a controversy”.”There is still a dispute over saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and those refusing to say it, should not have any right to stay here. Those living here should say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” Fadnavis had told a public meeting in Nashik last night.Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday reignited the nationalism debate, saying he would look forward to PDP MLAs saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ on the day of path taking on April 4. “I look forward to seeing all members of the PDP-BJP alliance say this (Bharat Mata Ki Jai) as soon as they take their oath tomorrow,” Omar said in a tweet.

Mehbooba Mufti to be sworn-in as Jammu and Kashmir CM tomorrow

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in tomorrow as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, also becoming the first-ever Muslim woman CM, heading a coalition government with BJP in the only Muslim-majority state.LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The 56-year-old leader, daughter of PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, will take oath of office at Raj Bhawan in Jammu tomorrow at 11.00 am. Mehbooba assuming office will be a landmark event in the history of Jammu and Kashmir as well as rest of the country. She will be the first woman to head a government in Jammu and Kashmir and the first Muslim woman to become the Chief Minister of a state in India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Governor NN Vohra yesterday invited the PDP president to form and lead the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state. “The Governor’s invitation to (Mehbooba) Mufti follows the earlier discussions with the PDP and BJP presidents regarding formation of government in the state and the subsequent communications received from her and Sat Sharma, president, J&K BJP in regard to this matter,” an official spokesman said.The PDP-BJP government can expect a smooth run if the two ideologically opposite parties can avoid controversies that dogged their first brush together with power when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed headed the government for 10 months till his death on January 7. The PDP-BJP coalition, which also has Sajad Gani Lone led Peoples’ Conference as a constituent, has 56 MLAs in the 87-member Assembly.The PDP has 27 members while BJP has 25. Peoples’ Conference has two MLAs while two other independents are supporting the coalition. The revival of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state — after three months of stalemate — became possible after several rounds of hectic negotiations between the two parties and apparent intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Following Sayeed’s death, Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state as the PDP and the BJP did not stake fresh claim for government formation in the state. Initially, the two parties maintained that Mehbooba was not in a position to take over the reins of the state as she was mourning her father’s death. However, after the mourning period was over, the PDP said it was looking for assurances and confidence building measures from the Centre on implementation of Agenda of Alliance — common minimum programme of the two parties — before forming the new government.Hopes of ending the deadlock were raised when BJP general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in Srinagar in a chartered plane to meet Mehbooba Mufti late in the evening on February 17 but nothing came out of the hour-long meeting.The next high level contact between the two parties came on March 19 when Mehbooba met BJP president Amit Shah. Again the two parties failed to resolve the issues, forcing the BJP to publicly admit for the first time that no headway could be made on government formation.In fact, several PDP leaders went to extent of saying the prospects of an alliance with the BJP were all but over. However, to everyone’s surprise, the PDP president went to meet the Prime Minister three days later.Mehbooba emerged from the meeting with the Prime Minister “satisfied”, which shall culminate tomorrow with her swearing in as the Chief Minister.

Look forward to PDP and BJP members chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ after Monday’s swearing in, says Omar Abdullah

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday said he expects all members of the PDP-BJP alliance to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as soon as the government takes oath of office on Monday.

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. PTI

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. PTI

“I look forward to seeing all the members of the PDP-BJP alliance say this as soon as they take their oath tomorrow,” Omar wrote on social networking site Twitter.

The National Conference leader was reacting to the remarks by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that those who do not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ have no right to live in the country.

Darul Uloom Deoband, the top seminary for Sunni Muslims in the subcontinent, had recently issued a ‘Fatwa’ (edict) that Muslims should not chant the slogan as it was against the tenets of Islam.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow at Rajbhawan in Jammu. Omar has also been invited for the swearing-in ceremony.

Digvijay Singh’s questions RSS silence over PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Friday sought to know from the RSS leadership as to how BJP could form government in Jammu and Kashmir with PDP, which had once opposed the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.”I want to ask this question to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in his own turf (RSS headquarters is located in Nagpur) here and not to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (as to how BJP has joined hands with PDP),” Singh told reporters here. He said PDP had “openly criticised the government’s decision and subsequent hanging of Afzal Guru.” PDP President Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PDP and BJP had staked claim for government formation on March 26, two days after Mehbooba was elected as PDP’s legislature party leader following the death of her father, who headed PDP-BJP coalition government for 10 months from March 1 last year until his death on January 7 this year. Singh also criticised the RSS leadership for fueling unnecessary controversy over chanting of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” slogans.Ridiculing the BJP’s dream of a “Congress free India”, Singh said Congress has a legacy in the country and played a major role in the independence struggle. “There was no need for such comments (about Bharat Mata ki Jai). Neither BJP nor RSS was ever involved in the freedom struggle and they should not talk of chanting such slogans,” he alleged.He also criticised Bhagwat for his remarks on review of reservation quota for the backward community. On the political crisis in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, Singh said BJP has violated the anti-defection law in both the places to destabilise the Congress-led government. “Why don’t you go for elections in both states,” he asked.On the demand for separate Vidarbha, Singh said there was a need for consensuses among the people and the issue was better left to the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) to answer.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti likely to be sworn-in on Apri 4

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, set to be the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to be sworn-in on April four.PDP sources said the swearing-in is likely to take place on April four once the availability of some senior leaders from Delhi was confirmed. Mehbooba, who will also have the distinction of being the first Muslim woman Chief Minister of the country, had met Governor N N Vohra on Saturday last and staked claim to form the government with the support of 25 MLAs of the BJP. PDP has 27 MLAs in the 87-member state Assembly.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>That the alliance government would not take office before March 31 became clear when the State Administrative Council headed by Vohra met here today and approved a Vote on Account for a period of three months.56-year-old Mehbooba has made it clear that focus of her government would be peace, reconciliation and development of the state. On Saturday, Mehbooba had denied there were any differences on the issue of allocation of portfolios between PDP and BJP, saying “What differences would we have on portfolios? It is a coalition government, we are not separate entities.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is leaving for a three-nation tour tomorrow, will be back on April 3. It is unlikely that he would attend the function because of his prior engagements, the sources said.While Mehbooba was unanimously elected as the PDP’s legislature party leader and nominated as the party’s CM candidate, 25 MLAs of BJP met in the state’s winter capital and elected Nirmal Singh as their leader.Singh will be the Deputy Chief Minister in the new government, a post he had held in the Mufti Mohammed Syeed’s dispensation.PDP and BJP had formed an alliance on March one last year with Sayeed as the Chief Minister. The two had prepared an Agenda of Alliance, a broad framework for the coalition under which it would function.The state is still under Governor’s rule, which was imposed on January 8 following the demise of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed after Mehbooba decided against taking over the reins immediately.

JNU protests, Afzal Guru’s hanging and Kunan-Poshpora case: None of us know the real Kashmir

By Sneha Rajaram

Are you an Indian who lives far away from Kashmir, like I do? Have you only just truly woken up to Kashmir this year, as I have? What woke you up? Was it the demonstrations against Afzal Guru’s execution that were held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 9 February, and the proceeding spiral of controversies that woke you up?

I was quite unforgivably clueless about Kashmir. I knew it was a place of great danger, and I was vaguely aware that not every Kashmiri wanted to be Indian. Then, after 9 February, I started following the news a bit more. I looked up Afzal Guru on the internet. But I still didn’t understand much. I knew that the BJP was trying to form the state government with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kashmir, who in turn thought that the Afzal Guru’s execution was unjust. Not surprisingly, this just confused me further.

That’s when a new book from Zubaan helped me ask the right questions. 23 February is Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. It is the anniversary of Kunan-Poshpora, an incident that took place in 1991: two villages called Kunan and Poshpora, in the Kupwara district of J&K, were reportedly raided by the Indian Army. Dozens of women were raped and dozens of men tortured, because the soldiers were searching for militants. The entire case was hushed up and the investigation nipped in the bud.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, in 2013, 50 Kashmiri women filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition to reopen the case. In the book Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?five of those women – Essar Batool, Ifrah Butt, Samreena Mushtaq, Munaza Rashid, Natasha Rather – have written about their respective personal connections to Kunan-Poshpora, their efforts to document, litigate, and mobilize the case, and through it all to convey a vivid picture of what it means to be a Kashmiri, what it means to be a Kashmiri woman, and most of all, what rape means to a Kashmiri woman.

There are many ways in which a beginner can slice the Kashmir subject. There’s the question of truth, lies, investigation and discovery– and how labyrinthine that process is in a court of law. There’s the matter of justice – the progress of the 2013 PIL, and whether it is being pursued purely to seek justice, or to seek an end result. It is also being pursued to officially register the protest against Kunan-Poshpora and pursue an inquiry as far as possible. There’s the extensive documentation in the book – individual victims’ accounts of the incident, maps of the scenes, a list of the soldiers involved, the investigation and the burial of the FIRs, the medical reports and the police reports.

There are also the quick, efficient personal accounts by the co-authors at the beginning of the book, which clarify why azaadi from India is important for some Kashmiris. They paint of soldiers everywhere — men with guns whose perpetration of torture, murder and rape has become normalised. This has happened to the extent that one hears of a torture-related death in the neighbourhood and yet goes off to celebrate a wedding, because if one sat up and took notice of every death, there would be no weddings. Each co-author describes how she personally broke through the propaganda of ‘the soldiers are here to protect us’, and how it became harder for her to be silent as opposed to risking safety by speaking up.

Like every other citizen of any country, I am no stranger to propaganda. I’ve managed to unlearn most of the jingoistic patriotism I was taught in school. Now I want to learn to love the country’s people, rather than the concept of a country. But I can only unlearn at an intellectual and emotional level. Deep down, my body is still indoctrinated. I am deeply disturbed by how I develop goosebumps every time I hear the National Anthem. I know it comes straight from primary school and that I can never change it. So yes, it’s difficult for our bodies, hearts and minds to accommodate a different picture of India from what we’ve known all these years.

But over these last few weeks it’s also become clear to me that this task must be performed by all of us whose idea of India is not flexible enough. Despite the evidence, the Army accused the victims of Kunan-Poshpora of lying through their teeth. Similarly, some readers may be tempted to dismiss this new book because it doesn’t tell the ‘correct’ version of the story or the one they want to hear. To them I say: meet Kunan-Poshpora halfway, at the very least.

One of the many events that followed the Afzal Guru protest on 10 February happened a few weeks ago, when the media pounced on a statement by JNU professor Nivedita Menon which said, “Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. Everybody accepts [it] […] The map of India in foreign publications like Time and Newsweek show a different map of Kashmir. These copies of the magazines always create a lot of controversy and are censored and destroyed. When the whole world is talking about India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir, then we should think the pro-azaadi slogans in the valley are justified.”

After reading about Kunan Poshpora, Menon’s statement seems like a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes to me. Everyone is telling us the Emperor is wearing clothes –our friends, our family, the media, the government. All of us are looking at the same thing. Some of us convince ourselves that we can see clothes. But many of us also don’t see them. So why do so few of us actually say this out aloud? What do you see when you think of Kashmir?

Sneha Rajaram is writer-at-large at the online women’s magazine The Ladies Finger.

Nitish Kumar hits out at Modi govt for ‘not keeping’ poll promises

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday lashed out at the BJP-led central government for failing to keep its promises, including bringing back blackmoney stashed abroad and charged it with harping on “emotive issues” to divert attention from the ones affecting the people.”The NDA government has not only failed to keep various promises, including bringing back black money stashed abroad and distributing it among the people, but it is seeking to create a strife in the society by raking up emotive issues from time to time to divert attention from problems of the masses,” he told an expanded meeting of the JD(U) state executive, legislative party and district unit presidents and office bearers at his official residence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The NDA government is about to complete two years in office, but nothing has been heard on bringing back black money from abroad … It has failed to generate employment for youths nor has it kept various promises made during the general election,” Kumar said. Failing to live up to the people’s expectation, the central government and the Sangh Parivar have been intentionally raising emotive issues like ‘love jehad’, ‘ghar wapsi’ and nationalism to divert public attention, he told the party leaders and workers.Kumar hit out at BJP for harping on nationalism as a core issue of its ideology and agenda and said it was so then why did the saffron party stitch an alliance with PDP despite its adoption of a resolution condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru. “What type of nationalism is it when you slap sedition charge on students (of JNU) for raising slogans and stitch an alliance and form government with a party (PDP) which had publicly backed Afzal Guru?” Kumar asked.Contrasting the NDA government’s failure on various fronts with his government’s performance in Bihar, he said that his government has set out on ‘saat nischay’ (seven pledges) for improving of life of the general people.”Unlike the BJP-led NDA government, we are performers and believe in translating our commitments into action….we are going to implement the seven pledges with full vigour as we know that these measures will impact the lives of the people in positive ways,” the JD(U) leader said.

Modi remained firm on J&K equation, made all the difference in keeping PDP-BJP alliance intact

By Sheikh Qayoom

As the PDP and BJP prepare to take power again as allies in Jammu and Kashmir, credit is being given to Prime Minister Minister Narendra Modi for the rapprochement.

Despite what looked like PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s delaying tactics, Modi remained firm on the BJP’s commitment to the agenda of alliance signed with her late father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi did not want any theatrics over the alliance as he was firm that it had been formed in the larger interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, an informed source in New Delhi told IANS.

“It was the prime minister who believed that continuing the alliance with the PDP was for peace in the state and for continuing the larger agenda of improving relations with (India’s) neighbours,” the source said.

Echoing Modi’s message, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that the BJP-PDP alliance agenda would be implemented in letter and spirit and there was no turning back on that commitment.

Jaitley later said in a talk show: “We lost Mufti Sahib when we needed him the most. Mehbooba must now take the call and continue her father’s vision.”

Modi then conveyed to Mehbooba through emissaries that he was ready to meet her to allay whatever fears she may have vis-a-vis heading a coalition government in the state.

“That did the final trick. Although she met the prime minister just for half hour she was assured all possible support and advised to carry forward her father’s vision as stated in the agenda of alliance,” a high level BJP source said.

Jammu and Kashmir had a Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government for about 10 months when then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed died on January 7.

The state came under Governor’s Rule the next day.

But instead of taking charge as chief minister at the head of the coalition, Mehbooba kept dragging the issue, at one time leading to speculation that she was planning to jettison the alliance.

The BJP made it clear that no new demands by the PDP leader would be met, and that the alliance would be based on the agenda agreed to earlier.

At the same time, BJP president Amit Shah and national general secretary Ram Madhav, who is in charge of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, stated that the alliance between the PDP and BJP was intact.

Mehbooba, the PDP president, sought fresh assurances on the agenda of alliance. The PDP wavered but the BJP stood firm.

“There is no turning back on the agenda signed with Mufti Sahib. It is final and will be implemented,” the BJP kept saying, at times embarrassing state BJP leaders who did not want to look as if they were taking orders from the PDP.

The BJP source said Modi’s address to the international Sufi conference in New Delhi this month was an effort to reach out to everybody and affirm his faith in the pluralism of India.

As Mehbooba remained entrenched in her stated position that she was not hungry for power, the BJP deputed Ram Madhav to speak to her twice. One of these visits was planned to be secret.

“She came to Delhi. Met Amit Shah and all seemed to have been lost,” the source told IANS. “Everybody said it was all over between the two parties. She rushed back to Srinagar.”

On Thursday, in her address to PDP legislators and senior leaders, Mehbooba thanked the BJP for its steadfast commitment to the agenda of alliance.

She also thanked the BJP and the central government for not trying to poach on her flock by engineering defections.

“The BJP has definitely behaved differently,” she told her party. She was alluding to the traditional horse-trading undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir by the Congress in the past.

The source explained why: “Creating a larger constituency where Jammu and Kashmir becomes a bridge and not a roadblock in India-Pakistan relations (was important).

“This is what Prime Minister Modi envisages. What further assurance did she want?” asked the source.

Mehbooba has finally agreed to start her political career’s first governance innings by trusting Modi — as her father did.

It is highly unlikely the two have reached an agreement without understanding each other. In the process, Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, will get its first woman chief minister.

IANS

For a change, a daughter rises in patriarchal society of Kashmir

From an ordinary village-girl next door to the most-sought-after politician, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has come a long way to become the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.A law graduate Mehbooba, 56, holds the record of not losing any election from south Kashmir either in the assembly or the parliament. She, however, lost the parliamentary election from Srinagar when she contested against Omar Abdullah in 1999.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A hesitant politician initially, she plunged into electoral fray in 1996 from her home constituency of Bijbhera on the instance of her father who was then the tallest Congress leader of J&K.Mufti was finding it difficult to have able and winnable candidates to challenge National Conference in 1996, when the assembly elections were held first time after six years of bloodied militancy.It was sheer luck for Mehbooba to plunge into politics as Mufti wanted his son Tasaduq to contest the polls. Since Tasaduq was underage, Mufti picked Mehbooba from Bijbhera seat while his wife Gulshan was nominated from Pahalgam constituency.Mehbooba romped home but her mother lost bitterly. And since then there was no looking back for her. Known for her oratory and connect with the grassroots, Mehbooba became the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in 1996 taking on the National Conference (NC) which had two-third majority in the Legislative Assembly.Mehbooba was perhaps the first pro-India politician who broke the traditions and visited the victims of human rights violations during the height of militancy. She courted many controversies in late nineties when she visited the families of militants killed in encounters.However, the soft-separatism card played by Mehbooba did not go well with the Congress given their national outreach. Mehbooba and her father developed differences with Congress which led to both of them resigning and forming the PDP in 1999.A single mother of two daughters Iltija Javid and Irtiqa Javid, Mehbooba’s marriage with her cousin Javid Iqbal Shah ended in a divorce in 1987. She moved to her father’s home and raised her two daughters single handily.Her leadership qualities were at test given her role as a single mother in the conservative society. But she did not give up and raised two daughters with poise. Iltija went on to land a prestigious job at Indian High Commission in London. Irtiqa is emulating her maternal uncle Tasaduq Mufti, an acclaimed cinematographer of Omkara fame, to train as screen writer in US.For all these years Mehbooba has mastered the art of taking the flock together. And that is why after she was nominated for the post of chief minister she wasted no time in thanking her leaders despite the speculations that some legislators were conspiring to defect.”I am nothing without you. You are my strength”, said Mehbooba while thanking her party leaders for standing behind her after the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.Even arch political rival and former chief Omar Abdullah was quick to congratulate her for being elected the leader of PDP legislature party. “Congratulations to Mehbooba Mufti sahiba on being elected as the leader of the @jkpdp legislative party. I wish her well for the future”, Omar tweeted.Earlier Omar had lampooned her indecisiveness when she was dragging her feet over the government formation, “God help J&K if Mehbooba as CM is going to be as indecisive as she has been as Party President over the last 2 1/2 months”, he tweeted.

For Mehbooba Mufti, the real political test starts now

Mehbooba Mufti, who was nominated on Thursday as PDP’s chief ministerial candidate, has emerged from the shadow of her illustrious father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to turn the party into a regional force to reckon with.Early political lifeA law graduate, 56-year-old Mehbooba took a plunge into mainstream politics of the state in 1996 by joining Congress, along with her father, at a time when militancy was at its peak. She is credited with the grassroots-level popularity and growth of the PDP with some observers arguing she outshone her father in connecting to the grassroots.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What sets Mehbooba apartWhat set Mehbooba apart from politicians of her time and even her father was her talent of ground-level political management. The 56-year-old mother of two daughters assumed an image of a fiery leader and won her first Assembly election as a Congress candidate from her home segment of Bijbehara. She then played a key role in her father’s victory as Congress candidate in Lok Sabha elections of 1998 when he defeated National Conference’s Mohammad Yousuf Taing from south Kashmir.As Sayeed felt an urge to do something for return of peace to Kashmir, Mehbooba was by his side and the father-daughter duo floated their regional party – the PDP – in 1999. They took along some leaders disgruntled with National Conference and many from Congress, a party where Sayeed spent most of his six-decade political career. From there, Mehbooba took on the responsibility of building the new party.’Soft-separatist card’She was accused of playing the soft-separatist card, PDP chose the green colour for the party flag and adopted Pen- Inkpot election symbol of the Muslim United Front (MUF) of 1987; but these moves found some resonances on the ground among the Kashmir residents. Mehbooba used to visit the homes of those killed in militancy-related violence and immediately struck a cord with the people, especially women, often lending them a shoulder to cry on.In the 2002 Assembly polls, termed as watershed in the state, PDP bagged 16 seats – most of them from south where Mehbooba had extensively campaigned and consolidated the support for her party and her father was sworn-in as the chief minister with the support of his former party Congress.Two years later, Mehbooba contested Parliamentary polls from south Kashmir and won her first Lok Sabha election. She contested Lok Sabha elections from Srinagar in 1999 but was defeated by her bete noire Omar Abdullah. Amarnath land rowWhen Amarnath land row engulfed the state, Mehbooba played an important role in persuading her father to pull out from the coalition government with Congress headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad. In 2008 assembly elections, she contested and won from Wachi segment of Shopian district of south Kashmir. Her party increased the tally to 21 seats but preferred to stay in the opposition.It was the National Conference which formed a coalition government with Congress, which was still smarting from the PDP ‘betrayal’ following the Amarnath land row. Mehbooba consolidated her party’s support base in the years spent in opposition, highlighting the alleged failures of the NC-led coalition government.Made marks as opposition leader She was considered a very active Opposition leader, the result of which was seen in 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the party won all the three seats in the Valley. Months later, PDP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly elections bagging 28 seats, paving way for her father to become Chief Minister for the second time.In March 2015, after months of hectic negotiations, the party formed government in Jammu and Kashmir in an alliance with BJP. Although Mehbooba kept a low profile post government formation, she assumed a more central role after reports of Sayeed’s ill health surfaced. She was seen by her father’s side at most public functions.As Sayeed’s health deteriorated, there began speculation about a change of guard in the party and credence to these speculation was given by Sayeed himself when he hinted that his daughter could take over the reins — not by virtue of being his daughter but by her hard work. Following Sayeed’s death on January 7, the state was put under Governor’s Rule and the Assembly was kept in suspended animation on January 8.PDP then sought assurances on a timeframe for implementation of the Agenda of Alliance from the Centre before renewing its alliance with BJP for government formation

Jammu and Kashmir: BJP hails PDP’s decision, expresses hope of govt formation soon

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday welcomed People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti’s election as the legislature party leader, adding there is hope that very soon there will be an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir.”I think this is a welcome step. All the proceedings of today’s meetings were welcomed. I extend my greetings on behalf of my political party to Mehbooba Mufti on being elected as a party leader in the legislature. Definitely there was a stalemate in the formation of a new government in Jammu and Kashmir after the unfortunate demise of former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir,? BJP leader Ravinder Raina told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I do hope that after this meeting, where Mehbooba Mufti is elected as the party leade’?very soon you will find an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. The Bharatiya Janata Party, both in Jammu and Kashmir and in Centre, was of the opinion that there should be an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir. People have voted us to form the government and it is our democratic, political and constitutional obligation to form the government,”he added.
ALSO READ Jammu and Kashmir: PDP elects Mehbooba Mufti as leader of legislative party, declared CM candidate Raina further stated that with the meeting of the PDP MLAs, there is hope that the stalemate is over now. “After the BJP legislature meeting tomorrow, I hope we will meet the Governor and find the elected government in Jammu and Kashmir very soon,”he added.The PDP MLAs earlier today unanimously elected party chief Mehbooba Mufti as the legislature party leader. Speaking at the PDP meeting, Mehbooba thanked the party workers for extending their support to her and for backing her during testing times. After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday, Mehbooba had said that she would take a final decision regarding the government formation and PDP-BJP alliance after consulting her party MLAs in the legislature meeting.The BJP had earlier said that it was committed to the implementation of already agreed agenda of alliance. Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra has called separate meetings with the PDP chief and BJP state president Sat Sharma tomorrow.Jammu and Kashmir was placed under the Governor’s rule on January 8 after chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7.

Jammu & Kashmir stalemate: Mehbooba Mufti has to make up her mind, says Arun Jaitley

Even as the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir is tottering on brink, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday asked PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti to make up her mind.”The fact is that the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has to really make up her mind,” Jailtey told Shekhar Gupta, former Editor of Indian Express in a conversation organised by his media start-up ‘The Print’ which he launched with television journalist Barhka Dutt.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that the PDP and BJP are ideologically quite distinct, Jaitley said, “Our support bases are different, our core beliefs may also be different. But then there was one commonality that the people of J&K threw up a hung verdict”.
ALSO READ Jammu and Kashmir: Alliance with BJP is like father’s ‘will’, says Mehbooba Mufti”As far as the BJP is concerned, we stand by the J&K package which the Prime Minister announced in toto. Every word will be implemented. Secondly, as far as the agenda for governance is concerned, between BJP and PDP, we are fully committed to agenda items we had agreed on,” he said.Attempts to revive the BJP-PDP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir suffered a setback last week with BJP ruling out government-formation on PDP’s conditions.PDP with 27 MLAs and BJP with 25 members had formed an alliance on March 1 last year with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as the Chief Minister. Both the sides had formed an “Agenda of Alliance” which sought to address internal and external dimensions of the state.The PDP had toughened its stance after Sayeed’s demise by seeking concrete plans for the state’s development including handing over of power projects to the state and vacation of land by Army before the coalition could be resumed.Governor’s rule was imposed in the state on January 8 after Mehbooba decided against taking over the reins after her father’s death.

As time runs out, BJP keeps door open for govt formation in Jammu & Kashmir

The BJP and PDP are indulging in a last minute blame game, lobbing the ball on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir into each other’s court.However, the BJP indicated that it was keeping doors open for engagement with PDP on government formation, saying it was committed to the agenda for alliance in the state.”We are committed to agenda of governance in Jammu and Kashmir,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday briefing the media on the BJP’s political resolution adopted at the party’s national executive.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He made it clear that there was no reference to this in the resolution. Jaitley’s statement can be seen as both-– extending an olive branch to the PDP as well as putting the responsibility for the government formation at its doorstep.Jaitley’s statement comes two days after talks broke down between the BJP leadership and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti In the capital. The BJP has ruled out forming government on the basis of conditions or giving time-bound assurances on implementing the agenda of alliance, prepared when the government was formed.According to Constitutional experts, the governor, who has kept the state assembly in suspended animation, cannot do so beyond April 9. As per article 53 of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution, the gap between two sessions of the state legislative assembly cannot be more than six months.Meanwhile, PDP sources said there were no lines of communication with the BJP. Mehbooba Mufti is likely to call a meeting of senior party leaders in the coming days to clear the ‘misgivings’ about PDP making fresh demands for government formation. The date of the meeting has not been finalised yet as several senior party leaders are stuck in Jammu due to closure of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.Sources said all that PDP wanted to ensure that the promises made to her father in terms of political and economic initiatives are implemented and had not made new demands. Even the proposal to vacate Tatoo ground and other places was based on confidence building measures the Mufti-led PDP had laid down.Governor’s rule was imposed in the state on January 8, after chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away.

J&K govt formation – BJP says it will never accept new conditions by PDP

BJP on Sunday said it was in touch with several PDP legislators who were in favour of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, but added it will “never” accept new conditions for alliance put forth by Mehbooba Mufti. “Several PDP legislators who are in favor of the formation of the government in the state and who also don’t want midterm polls in the state are in touch with the BJP leadership for the formation of the government,” BJP legislator Ravinder Raina said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Nowshera MLA said the party would stick to the Agenda of Alliance that had been agreed upon with PDP a year ago, adding that any deviation would amount to disrespecting former late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. “There is no question of accepting the new conditions laid down by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the BJP for the formation of government in Jammu and Kashmir. I have come to know that she (Mehbooba) has put forth new conditions, but BJP will never accept them. We will strictly follow the Agenda of Alliance that was agreed upon between the two parties a year ago,” he said.He said BJP has “several options” to form government in the state, if the alliance with PDP breaks down, but would disclose them “when the time comes”. The need of the hour for both the alliance partners (PDP and BJP) was to form government based on mutual trust and respect the aspirations of the people of Jammu and the people of Kashmir regions, he said. “People of Jammu gave a thumping majority to BJP while people of Kashmir voted for PDP, hence it is time for both the parties to provide a democratically elected government to the people, as Governor’s rule is no substitute to it,” Raina said. Asked whether the BJP would encourage defection within PDP, he said that his party would do no such thing. “More than half of the legislators who were elected to the assembly are first timers and none of them want midterm polls. If the PDP does not come ahead to form the government we will explore other options,” he said. Raina said BJP will not “surrender” its ideology and would follow its “nationalistic policies”, including in Jammu and Kashmir. “Area wise and population wise Jammu is far bigger than Kashmir valley, but we have less number of assembly seats, we will continue to fight for the delimitation of the assembly seats, we will continue to fight for the refugees from west Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK),” he said.

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