Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

‘PM is mindful of our sufferings; he would come to Valley with open heart’
• CM defends coalition with BJP yet again
Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar, Oct 29:

Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Thursday hinted at the announcement of the much-awaited flood relief package for Jammu and Kashmir during the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to the State on November 7.
Mufti said the central assistance was delayed as Modi was gauging the “honesty” of the PDP-led coalition government in reaching out to the deserving beneficiaries.
“Flood victims have been crying throughout the year that why the prime minister doesn’t announce any package. The reason was he was checking how honest our government was towards reaching the beneficiaries and now he is satisfied,” said the chief minister said.
“He (Modi) oversees all the developments here: roads, rail, education, health. He keeps watch over all these things. That is the reason till date he has not given any big package. He was testing the state by our deeds, checking whether whatever small amount he gave us has reached the beneficiaries or not.”
Mufti addressed public meetings at Jawahar Nagar and Raj Bagh after laying foundation stones of new Mehjoor Bridge and Kissan Ghar.
“I really feel about the flood victims. I didn’t talk about this issue all these months because I was waiting for the right time,” he said.
Mufti said Modi was mindful of the sufferings of common Kashmiris “and he would come to the Valley with an open heart”.
The chief minister urged people to accord warm welcome to the prime minister.  “I want that when Modi ji arrives here, he should get the same warm response as Atal ji received. There is some trust-deficit among people which I want should be reduced.”
“If you want that J&K should move on the path of peace and happiness, if you want our state to act as a mediator between India and Pakistan, then the prime minister will extend helping hand only after assessing your trust,” Mufti said while using his oft-repeated slogan ‘Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se’.
“How can I fight unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment alone so I joined my small hand with Modi’s big hand,” he said. “History has given us an opportunity to shake hand with the whole India.”
Mufti hailed the initiatives of former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Kashmir. “Atal ji announced from Red Fort that J&K elections would be conducted in a transparent manner. Before that it was commonly said Delhi calls all the shots in J&K.”
“When Atal ji came here in 2003, the conditions were very unstable. At that time parliament attack had taken place, continuous border firing was taking place. But seeing the unstable condition of the state, Atal ji extended hand of friendship towards Pakistan,” he said.
Terming democracy as ‘battle of the ideas’, he said: “Difference of opinion is a right in democracy. You have your views, I have mine. We can’t send our youth to jails for different opinions.”
He asserted that Modi acknowledged the Special Status of J&K in Indian constitution. “So I appeal those who have conflict with our ideas to have their differences but don’t make the atmosphere hostile.”
COALITION WITH BJP
Speaking at length for the second successive day on tying up with BJP to forge an alliance in J&K, Mufti said he had no desire of ruling the state. “But when election time arrived people came to me and reminded me how well I had managed the state from 2002 to 2005,” he said.
The chief minister claimed people telling him: “Mufti sahib, you did wonderful work. You scrapped the state task force which had made hell of the lives of people. You opened doors of jails which had been imprisoning people for venting their emotions.”
“But when the time of voting came, though I salute Srinagar, but I had better expected from you people that I would fall short and get only 28 seats. After failing to get full mandate I took it as an opportunity to get along the people of Jammu. Right from 1947, there has been lack of trust between Jammu and Kashmir regions as parties didn’t take Jammu people in confidence. But I made history by combining ‘will of Kashmir’ with ‘will of Jammu’ when I entered into coalition with BJP.”
Mufti said he had several options available to form the government. “I received calls from Sonia Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and even Omar Abdullah, who offered unconditional support, but I saw an opportunity to go with BJP and respect the mandate it had won in Jammu region,” he said.
“I introspected and decided to make a history,” Mufti said, adding, Narendra Modi enjoys the mandate and support of 1.2 billion Indians.
“If Kashmiris would not be able to strike friendship with Jammuites this time, then how come they can do so with the Indians? So I got an opportunity to bridge the gap and formed a common agenda with BJP which took two months of hectic negotiations.”
During the two months, he said, “I stressed there must be a friendship with Pakistan, Centre has to talk with a common Kashmiri, and the Special Status of the state has to be kept untouched.”
“To rule is not my desire; my aim is to dispel the phase of uncertainty in the state, to make J&K a model state in the country. As our people appreciated the decision of 1947 to join democratic India but still our neighbour Pakistan even after 75 years has failed to decide her own path,” Modi said.
irfanrashid@risingkashmir.com
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City’s satellite township to meet needs of poor: Mufti

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Describing Srinagar as a historic centre of authority and influence, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Thursday promised to build a new summer capital by integrating modern elements into the city’s rich heritage.
“Srinagar is the heart of the state and we need to appreciate its centrality. We also need to improve its fundamentals by working on core sectors like connectivity, businesses, transport, water and drainage systems,” he added.
The Chief Minister was speaking after laying foundation stones of new Mehjoor Bridge at Jawahar Nagar and Kissan Ghar at Raj Bagh, here this morning.
Mufti said they have decided to build one satellite township in the Srinagar so that a poor man could get a roof above his head to live his life.
He compared Srinagar with heart using the anecdote Jab Dil theek ho toh jism theek hai, “In the same way our government considers Srinagar to be the heart of the state.”
“Even when I took over as CM in 2002, he said, I paid due attention towards the roads of the Srinagar.” “The most attention I have paid is on the roads of the Srinagar than all those roads that I have driven through. In this tenure, 225 kms have been macadamized in City till date.
The new Mehjoor Nagar Bridge is going to be build at the cost of Rs 18 crore by Economic Reconstruction Agency till December 2016. It lies 180 meteres ahead of old “unsafe” bridge which was declared in 2005.
SATELLITE TOWNSHIP
“I have stayed in Srinagar, Barbarshah, during my college time.  I observed multi families within a single house. What is the way out from this mess? Those who have been bestowed wealth do make new houses though in an unorganized way. So we have decided to make one satellite township even if initially only one lakh families shift there, it would reduce burden on the city,” he said.
He compared the satellite township with a “smart mini-city” and said, “I want that a poor man should shift there, not rich, who can’t afford to build his own house.”
FLOOD PLAN
The CM asserted that they have drafted a comprehensive plan to save the valley from the flood like situation again. “It is to construct flood channels, need to strengthen river embankments and small nallahs have to be cleaned.”
He termed the last flood was matchless. “The person who had never imagined his house would be flooded was the most vulnerable victim. There has been a huge devastation and loss to the infrastructure. Hardly people had insured their property.”
TOURISM
About tourism the CM said that Srinagar is a world known destination where people from all corners of the globe arrive.  “So we are paying a special care about the patch of Boulevard to Shalimar which will be turned 4 lane soon. On that road, a special footpath would be also made out  along with a cycle track on the route.”
Narrating the incident when he stayed in the Berlin hotel along with her granddaughter, Sana and wife. “At 10 o’clock my granddaughter told me she was going for a cycle walk. I was sitting in a park overseeing hundreds of people cycling through.”
We need to enhance our bedding capacity in the Srinagar, he said. “Recently, I asked the department about same. They replied we have 12000 bedding in guest houses and houseboats. In total we have 40000 capacity here. But that is not enough. I will try to divert more and more tourists towards houses in areas like Rajbagh and surroundings so that the people there could get their employment from this source.”
HANICRAFTS
The CM said that during militancy the employment was shaken considerably. “But I echo everywhere that our people carved out their livelihood by their talents of handicrafts. Few worked on kaleen, paper machie and wood carving. I met Modi ji. He is very fond of skill development. Our skill is Kaleen. But the weaver after working from the morning though evening, hardly earns Rs 400.”
All eyes went surprising when he said, “To keep this skill alive, why can’t a teacher perform this art in his part time after school hours in the evening.”
DAL LAKE
“Earlier we used to travel up to Ganderbal in Dongas but now the condition is bad. I am determined to shift those who live there in the Dal to Rakhi Arth. I know they don’t live there with satisfaction (wo sukoon sey nai rehtey waha). I will help their 8000 families to live better life outside which is a wonderful place, “he hinted for speedy shifting of Dal dwellers.

NYC Calls Off Hunger Strike

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar:

 The protesting National Youth Corps volunteers ended their indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday—57th day—after “assurance” from the ruling government.
On Tuesday evening, Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu addressed the NYC volunteers in the Pratap Park and said, “We are going to make a roadmap for you within two months. We would move a proposal in next budget session in Jammu for adjusting you in different departments.”
On 22 October 2014, Omar government had passed a cabinet order no 192/CIR/2014 and then secretary education vide order number 737-EDU/2014 to engage 6000 NYC as contingent workers in schools department against vacancies created in newly 800 upgraded schools.
But the Finance Minister told the NYC that they would be adjusted in different departments rather than in a single Education Department.
This was the third visit of the Drabu to the NYC camp as earlier two were failed to resolve the issue. He said, “This is humanitarian issue and needs to be solved at the earliest. This is not the issue of six thousand NYC youth but about six thousand families.”
While castigating previous regimes for “soiling their future” the Minister said that their government is serious regarding their grievances and assured them that they will be regularized in different departments.
He has asked NYC to give two months time to government so that within these two months they will get their details and biometrics done.
Asif Ali Bhat, President NYC said, “It is only after getting full assurance from government we have ended our strike now. Incase government will fail to full promises made to us today then they know better what we can do and what we are capable to do.”
On Monday evening, a meeting had taken place between NYC president, PDP President and Finance Minister where it was decided to resolve the issue.
Scores of politicians visited in this period to them—both from ruling as well as opposition.
These 57 days have been not been easy time for the members here in the Park. A total of 4 lakh is said to have incurred as expenses during this two month strike which have been contributed by the parents of the unemployed NYC members. Besides, NYC president who had come in his personal vehicle (Hyundai accent) on September 1st had to sell that to bear the expenses.
They also spent their Eid in the park. Hundreds of members have been hospitalized in this period.
There have been heart-rending stories about female NYCs who have been warned by their future “in-laws” about wasting their time in the Park and many were castigated for losing their job.
For Falak Tawheed (name changed), this is no less than Eid today for her as she has been one of the victims of such threats from her in-laws. But she kept fighting and remained steadfast on her resolve, finally to get cheer on her face.
The today’ success has also come after a sacrifice of one of the members, Raj Kumar, who died in this period as he had deeply been stuck by the depression.

NYC Calls Off Hunger Strike

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar:

 The protesting National Youth Corps volunteers ended their indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday—57th day—after “assurance” from the ruling government.
On Tuesday evening, Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu addressed the NYC volunteers in the Pratap Park and said, “We are going to make a roadmap for you within two months. We would move a proposal in next budget session in Jammu for adjusting you in different departments.”
On 22 October 2014, Omar government had passed a cabinet order no 192/CIR/2014 and then secretary education vide order number 737-EDU/2014 to engage 6000 NYC as contingent workers in schools department against vacancies created in newly 800 upgraded schools.
But the Finance Minister told the NYC that they would be adjusted in different departments rather than in a single Education Department.
This was the third visit of the Drabu to the NYC camp as earlier two were failed to resolve the issue. He said, “This is humanitarian issue and needs to be solved at the earliest. This is not the issue of six thousand NYC youth but about six thousand families.”
While castigating previous regimes for “soiling their future” the Minister said that their government is serious regarding their grievances and assured them that they will be regularized in different departments.
He has asked NYC to give two months time to government so that within these two months they will get their details and biometrics done.
Asif Ali Bhat, President NYC said, “It is only after getting full assurance from government we have ended our strike now. Incase government will fail to full promises made to us today then they know better what we can do and what we are capable to do.”
On Monday evening, a meeting had taken place between NYC president, PDP President and Finance Minister where it was decided to resolve the issue.
Scores of politicians visited in this period to them—both from ruling as well as opposition.
These 57 days have been not been easy time for the members here in the Park. A total of 4 lakh is said to have incurred as expenses during this two month strike which have been contributed by the parents of the unemployed NYC members. Besides, NYC president who had come in his personal vehicle (Hyundai accent) on September 1st had to sell that to bear the expenses.
They also spent their Eid in the park. Hundreds of members have been hospitalized in this period.
There have been heart-rending stories about female NYCs who have been warned by their future “in-laws” about wasting their time in the Park and many were castigated for losing their job.
For Falak Tawheed (name changed), this is no less than Eid today for her as she has been one of the victims of such threats from her in-laws. But she kept fighting and remained steadfast on her resolve, finally to get cheer on her face.
The today’ success has also come after a sacrifice of one of the members, Raj Kumar, who died in this period as he had deeply been stuck by the depression.

Quake brings Srinagar to standstill

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Earthquake on Monday brought summer capital Srinagar to a standstill as it paralyzed vehicular movement, crippled mobile phones, and stranded hordes of commuters and trapped scores of people in their respective places.
People squatted and many laid down on roads in Srinagar when strong tremors hit Jammu and Kashmir on Monday afternoon. Hundreds of people came to open spaces in many areas of the city including Lal Chowk with tears and names of Allah being reverberated louder and louder. The people came out of shops, hotels, offices and educational institutions.
Many females were seen weeping and crying aloud in Lal chowk with fear when surrounding structures and roadside poles were swaying, enhancing the fear-psychosis of the people as the quake lasted for many seconds. They were being offered water by the shopkeepers and people came to pacify them.
A massive traffic mess was also witnessed in the city after Jehangir chowk flyover was stopped for plying of traffic reportedly after a crack was developed there. The traffic mess hit at Amira Kadal, Lal chowk, MA Road, Dal gate and Batamaloo.
The fear of people increased when they were not able to contact their dear ones as cell phones were not able to connect for a long time. Later people took to soial media: facebook and twitter and posted their photos of damage and heart-rending status.  After mobile network, electricity also was cutoff in major areas of the city.
Reports said the road near Rangreth and safa Kadal have developed a massive crack. In Rainawari a roof came down after being knocked loose at hinges due to high intensity tremors.
In parts of old city, old structures shed dust clouds while people came out of their houses, running.
Many houses are reported to have developed severe cracks. People said that severity of the tremor frightened everybody. Indications suggest that the flood-soaked buildings across Srinagar may have suffered maximum damage but officials will take a bit of time to offer some ideas. A newly constructed building at Lal chowk adjacent to yatri Niwas developed cracks.
Reports added that rooftop of the Physics department of Amarsingh college sustained dislocation due to tremors along with new building of Nawa kadal womens’ college. They said that panic gripped the campus with the students running helter skelter. Women’s college reportedly asked students to leave as soon as the effects of the quake lessened. Reports coming from various colleges and universities added that panic gripped the students and teachers when the building started to shake tremendously. Reports added that a female student jumped off from womens’ college hostel.

Quake brings Srinagar to standstill

Quake brings Srinagar to standstill

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Earthquake on Monday brought summer capital Srinagar to a standstill as it paralyzed vehicular movement, crippled mobile phones, and stranded hordes of commuters and trapped scores of people in their respective places.
People squatted and many laid down on roads in Srinagar when strong tremors hit Jammu and Kashmir on Monday afternoon. Hundreds of people came to open spaces in many areas of the city including Lal Chowk with tears and names of Allah being reverberated louder and louder. The people came out of shops, hotels, offices and educational institutions.
Many females were seen weeping and crying aloud in Lal chowk with fear when surrounding structures and roadside poles were swaying, enhancing the fear-psychosis of the people as the quake lasted for many seconds. They were being offered water by the shopkeepers and people came to pacify them.
A massive traffic mess was also witnessed in the city after Jehangir chowk flyover was stopped for plying of traffic reportedly after a crack was developed there. The traffic mess hit at Amira Kadal, Lal chowk, MA Road, Dal gate and Batamaloo.
The fear of people increased when they were not able to contact their dear ones as cell phones were not able to connect for a long time. Later people took to soial media: facebook and twitter and posted their photos of damage and heart-rending status.  After mobile network, electricity also was cutoff in major areas of the city.
Reports said the road near Rangreth and safa Kadal have developed a massive crack. In Rainawari a roof came down after being knocked loose at hinges due to high intensity tremors.
In parts of old city, old structures shed dust clouds while people came out of their houses, running.
Many houses are reported to have developed severe cracks. People said that severity of the tremor frightened everybody. Indications suggest that the flood-soaked buildings across Srinagar may have suffered maximum damage but officials will take a bit of time to offer some ideas. A newly constructed building at Lal chowk adjacent to yatri Niwas developed cracks.
Reports added that rooftop of the Physics department of Amarsingh college sustained dislocation due to tremors along with new building of Nawa kadal womens’ college. They said that panic gripped the campus with the students running helter skelter. Women’s college reportedly asked students to leave as soon as the effects of the quake lessened. Reports coming from various colleges and universities added that panic gripped the students and teachers when the building started to shake tremendously. Reports added that a female student jumped off from womens’ college hostel.

In a show of communal harmony, Kashmiri Muslims attend Dussehra celebration

IRFAN RASHID

At a time when communal tension  is brewing across India, scores of Kashmiri Pandits along with local Muslim and Sikh brethren celebrated Dussehra with religious fervor and enthusiasm  Thursday at Polo Ground Srinagar.
After missing the celebrations last year due to flood, Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti organized a celebration which was attended by Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Syed, Minister of Finance Haseeb Drabu, Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar and many other bureaucrats and police officials.
Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus burnt giant effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath installed at Polo Ground here, which became a major attraction for devotees and onlookers.
Hundreds of people including women and children braved evening chill and thronged the ground to witness the fireworks and the ritual of burning the effigies this evening.
“We invited CM sahab also and he has also come. This is a show of communal harmony after we missed the last year event due to flood. But this year we did it in grand manner,” member of KPSS, Ratan Pandit said.
Kashmiri Pandits restarted celebrating the festival in Kashmir after the gap of 20 years in 2007.
One Muslim family who has been visiting here for last eight years said, “I have come here along with my little daughter (Arbah) and son.” The family resides in Barbarshah.
Sarabjeet Singh, a Sikh, who lives in Karan Nagar said, he has been visiting here before 1990s.
“Earlier we would celebrate it in TRC ground and that was more soothing as all people from all religions would come,” he said.
Dussehra is the festival signifying the victory of good over evil.
Dussehra is celebrated on the culmination of nine days of Navratras. It is the second most important Hindu festival after Shivratri.