Back to Top


 ‘Hope Pak air space is opened for flights from Srinagar’

SRINAGAR, Jun 29: Citing close proximity of Jammu and Kashmir with the Central Asian countries, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today expressed hope that the new government in Pakistan will allow international flights originating from Srinagar to fly over its air space. "One hopes with a new dispensation in Pakistan and encouraging voices emerging from new Prime Minister of Pakistan about normalising the relations to some extent between our two countries, perhaps this (use of airspace) is one aspect that can also be normalised," Omar said.
He was addressing a conference on 'Cooperation, Development, Peace and Security in Central Asia' at Kashmir University here.
Omar said the flight distance between Srinagar and some of the capital cities of Central Asian republics is shorter than the distance between Srinagar and some larger Indian cities.
"Unfortunately, because of the cussed mindset of our neighbour on the western frontier that does not allow a direct flight from Srinagar to overfly their airspace, we have not been able to take advantage of this connect that was available to us," he said. The Chief Minister said if Pakistan allows use of its airspace for international flights originating from Srinagar, the Srinagar airport can become an international airport in true sense.
"The international airport at Srinagar that currently exists only on paper, (will) become an international airport in operations as well. And one day, the direct flights to one of these Central Asian countries (will) originate from Srinagar," he added.
Omar said Jammu and Kashmir is uniquely placed in the Indian set up to talk about linkages with Central Asia and to, possibly in future, derive advantages from those linkages.
"The policy of Ministry of External Affairs of 'Connect Central Asia' will be ideally suited for J&K because geographically we are the closest, spiritually we have a connect and almost every aspect of life in Kashmir, were you to scratch the surface, you will find a connection between us and Central Asia.
"Our heritage, language, culture, our architecture and the biggest connect is in our religion. Therefore, it is but natural that there will be an affinity between us and Central Asian republics," he added.
Omar rued the fact that the neighbourhood of the state "has not allowed us to take advantage of the historic association that Kashmir has with Central Asia".He said the disadvantage for India is that there is no direct overland linkage to Central Asian countries and it passes through countries which at the best of the times can "give us some amount of difficulty".
"Connecting to Central Asia through Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan is not easy but it is a challenge that we have to face," he said.
He said India made it known to the "powers that be" that while their concerns regarding Iran are well taken, they cannot dictate our relations with that country. "Their concerns cannot over shadow our concerns".
Omar said the developments in Afghanistan over the months to come will be closely monitored in India in view of the withdrawal of the US and international troops from that country.
"In the days and months ahead, we will be looking very closely at the developments in Afghanistan. There are any number of people in my state who are saber rattling about the future of the move towards normalisation in Jammu and Kashmir in light of the 2014 withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.
"What effect that will have is now compounded by the dialogue that is sought to be started between the Taliban and the international community. One hopes international community learns from its mistakes and stops using other countries as an extended playground for their sphere of influence," he added.
Speaking at the function Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Salman Khurshid dwelt in detail about the Indian efforts to seek global peace, security and cooperation. He also talked about the Indian initiatives towards strengthening the ties and trade links with the Central Asian Countries.


 Vohra for strengthening centuries old relations with Central Asian countries


SRINAGAR, JUN 29: N. N. Vohra, Governor Jammu and Kashmir, today said that India's centuries old relations with the Central Asian countries are deeply embedded in civilizational and cultural commonalities and emphasized the need for strengthening these relations, keeping in mind the emerging challenges confronting this region, and the world at large, on varied fronts. The Governor said this in his Presidential Address at the inaugural session of the 3-day International Conference on "Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in Central Asia: Challenges and Prospects", at the Kashmir University here today. This International Conference has been jointly organized by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, and the Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS), Kashmir University.
The Governor referred to his goodwill mission visits to the Central Asian countries in the early 1990s and the difficult situations which were obtaining in these countries at that time. He also recalled the useful work done by the India International Centre, New Delhi, in the early years after the break up of the former Soviet Russia, to organize an international conference to bring out the history, culture and polity of the Central Asian States and to bring out a volume containing the papers presented by Indian and Central Asian scholars.
This was done with a view to making these countries better known and for reviving India's centuries old relations with them. He also referred to the good work being done by Mr. Rajeev Sethi, Founder of Asian Heritage Foundation, who was present on this occasion, for reviving, preserving and showcasing the symbols of our rich cultural heritage, adding that such initiatives can go a long way in fostering better understandings and contributing towards sustainable relations with the Central Asian countries.
Referring to the serious challenges being faced by the world today, the Governor observed that these include religious fundamentalism which leads to extremism and violence, resulting in human and economic losses, disrupting educational schedules which adversely affect the education of youth. He added that such challenges have to be addressed with mutual cooperation and deeper worldwide understandings.
The Governor, who is Chancellor of the Kashmir University, congratulated the CRRID and the Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, for organizing this International Conference on a very important theme and wished the participants fruitful deliberations.
Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister, and Salman Khurshid, Minister of External Affairs, addressed the inaugural session of the Conference.
Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University, in his welcome address, urged Mr. Salman Khurshid, for providing opportunities to the scholars of the CCAS for undergoing internship in the Ministry of External Affairs. He thanked the Governor and the Chief Minister for their valuable support in the growth of the University.
Dr. Rashpal Malhotra, Executive Vice Chairman, CRRID, dwelt on the activities of the organization and the aims and objects of organizing this Conference. He read out a message of the Prime Minister sent for this International Conference.
Dr. S. S. Gill, Director General, CRRID, gave details of the establishment, evolution, history, growth and activities of the CRRID. He said that jointly organizing of this Conference by the CRRID and the Kashmir University is an indicator of long-term and sustained cooperation between the CRRID and the varsity.
Prof. Aijaz A. Bandey, Director, CCAS, spoke about the work done by the CCAS over the past 35 years of its establishment and the publications brought out by it.
Dr. Tareak A. Rather, Coordinator of the Conference, presented a Vote of Thanks.
Among those present on the occasion were delegates of the Conference from within and outside the country, Deans, Heads of Departments, Faculty members, scholars and students.


 Stable Afghanistan, Iran critical to India's energy security: Khurshid

Srinagar, Jun 29: A stable Afghanistan and Iran are critical to India's energy security as these two countries can provide greater access to Central Asian region which has abundance of hydrocarbon wealth, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said today. "We are looking at re-energising the national North-South Corridor to connect India with Central Asia and Russia through Iran, we are looking at trans-Afghan routes using Iranian port of Chahabar particularly to get access to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. We are looking at a rail link from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan into Iran.
"Of course, it does make Iran very critical. On the other hand, it makes Afghanistan very critical. Therefore, we hope that within our philosophical approach of being friends, we get Afghanistan back to a stable situation. Afghanistan will then become a bridge for us to Central Asia and Iran as well," Khurshid said addressing a three-day conference on Central Asia at the Kashmir University here.
The Minister also expressed hope that Iran will be able to resolve its nuclear energy issues with the European Union. "(When) Iran will be able to find a resolution with the European Union + 1 on the issue of nuclear energy so that Iran also becomes an important link between us and Central Asia. It will give us far greater access to Central Asia than we have now," he said.
Khurshid said India has been closely watching the development related to the peace process in Afghanistan.
"We have been watching with care and close scrutiny the developments in Doha (Qatar) about the possibility of a conversation and dialogue between the 'willing' Taliban and High Peace Council of Afghanistan.
"We feel and we have said this to our friends, in the US and the European Union, that our collective decision which is very very strongly endorsed in Afghanistan that the peace talks must be Afghan led and Afghan controlled," he said.
The Minister said it was not possible for anybody from outside to conjure a successful peace architecture for Afghanistan or any other part of the world.
"I believe that the peace must come from within. Despite repeated invitations, India believes it must restrain itself to a point which is consistent with our philosophy and allow the Afghan people to choose their own destiny," he said.
Khurshid said India will help in reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and expects the government in that country to deliver on issues like drug trafficking, religious extremism and fundamentalism.
"We will help them (Afghans) in completing the parliament building, which will be ready in three months. We will help them build the dams, we will help them build the roads but they must populate the Parliament with the voices of Afghan people. We shouldn't impose any preconceived notions of democracy. We can share our experiences but at the end it has to be their own decision," he said.
"We also expect them to deliver on drug trafficking issues and fundamentalism and religious extremism. It is very important that we really understand religious extremism and fundamentalism are not something that hurts only one society.
It is a fundamental challenge to our human values and aspiration for peace," he added.
Khurshid said if India has to grow at 8 to 10 per cent, it needs to look at alternative sources of energy which are clean as well as allow greater self-reliance.
He said increasing the number of nuclear power plants can be one of the options but "whether we will be able to increase that is something that is still in the air. People have different view on nuclear power plants."
"Till we are able to move on to an alternative solution to our energy problems, we cannot wait for energy to be made available. Therefore, energy cooperation with Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan which are rich in hydrocarbon sources is extremely important," he said.
Khurshid said although the carbon emissions in India are a fraction of those of the developed world like the US and the European Union, but it will grow "if we continue to rely on conventional forms of energy and we continue to aspire to grow at eight per cent or 10 per cent."
He said the government is working on several things, including a liberalised visa regime with Central Asian countries, to enable "more convenient and liberal access to people on both sides to travel".
On the development partnership with Central Asian countries, Khurshid said India has "done reasonably well in food processing, data processing, renovation and upgradation of hydroelectric power plants, computerisation of post offices and IT centres of excellence in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan."
He said India is looking at setting up of Central Asian Universities in near future. (PTI)


 Man sets self, son on fire, attempts suicide

Srinagar, Jun 29: A father-son duo suffered severe burn injuries after the man allegedly set himself and the child on fire in Baramulla district of north Kashmir. Parvez Ahmad Dar set himself and his five-year-old son, Sahil, ablaze after sprinkling kerosene at their house in Dooru village of Tangmarg, 45 kms from here, last evening, a police spokesman said. They suffered severe burn injuries and were shifted to SMHS hospital here for treatment, he said. "It was not immediately known what prompted Dar to take such an extreme step," the spokesman said, adding police has registered a case and started investigations.
Meanwhile, a 35-year-old woman attempted suicide by setting herself ablaze in Kupwara district of north Kashmir last night.
The woman used kerosene oil in the self-immolation bid at her Haji Node residence in Karnah sector of Kupwara district, the spokesman said adding she was hospitalised.
In another incident, the spokesman said a couple suffered burn injuries after their house caught fire in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
Abdul Rashid Bhat and his wife Famida Akhter were injured in a fire incident at their house at Krangsoo village of Anantnag district last night, he said, adding the house caught fire due to leak in domestic gas cylinder.
The house was damaged in the incident, the spokesman added.


  Man kills daughter for 'honour'

Srinagar, Jun 29: A man was arrested in north Kashmir's Sopore for allegedly killing his minor daughter, police said. An eight year old girl who went missing from her Rafiabad home was found with her throat slit in an orchard. Police said Altaf Ahmad Rather of Laiser Rafiabad killed his daughter as he suspected that she was an illicit child. Altaf along with his elder brother Muhammad Maqbool Rather reported to police that his daughter Muskan Altaf had been missing from her home and they have been searching her in the village but failed to trace her.
"On this a missing report was filed and search was started. In the process of search, on the next day throat slit body of the missing girl child was found in the apple orchard on the outskirts of the village Laisar," a senior police officer said.
The police discovered that the girl was only four years old and they were miss informed by the family.
The officer said that at the place of recovery of the body a sharp edged knife, a ten rupee currency note and an empty jute bag used to contain animal fodder were also recovered and preserved.
He said that a special investigation team (SIT) was constituted to investigate the gruesome blind murder. "In the process of investigation a reasonable suspicion was developed against the father of the victim, who was called for questioning alongwith other relatives," he said.
He said that the girl was last seen in the company of her father and he was asked to explain the circumstances leading to her going missing and being subsequently murdered. "It was found from marriage and medical records, that the baby was born in less than nine months of the marriage of her parents. This made the father to suspect him not being her biological father.
Over a period of time this developed into an extreme hatred. Another motive of killing his own daughter was his greed as he was expecting cash compensation from government once his daughter was discovered killed to put blame on militants for the reason that his wife was a Panch (village panchayat member)," he said.
On the day of murder he sent his wife to take their son to a doctor for medical consultation. "Once his wife left, he took the girl in the outskirts in the apple orchard area where he choked her by blocking her nose and mouth with his hand and consequently she collapsed and died on spot," the officer said.
Thereafter, to mislead the police he slit the throat with a knife and concealed the body in a bag and hide it under the grass and bushes.
The accused was arrested and circumstantial, scientific evidence corroborate his involvement in murder of his daughter, he said.


Azad-Soni friendship holds the key to forming next Govt in J&K

Jammu, Jun 29: The future of the Congress and the National Conference alliance in the coming Assembly polls hinges more on the friendship between Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and newly appointed Congress incharge of the state Ambika Soni than PCC Chief Prof Saif Ud Din Soz.
Even though Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is keeping his cards close to his chest but the manner in which UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi made references and highlighted developmental works carried out during the tenure of Azad as chief minister in the state has already fueled speculations in the corridors of power about his possible return to the state politics as head of the state govt.
It is under these circumstances the state Congress leaders view role of party incharge Ambika Soni very crucial in giving feedback to the party high command about the nature of alliance the state Congress leaders would find it comfortable to work in.
It is learnt through reliable sources in the Congress party that several senior party leaders have already conveyed to the party high command the need for keeping open the option of forming a n alliance under the leadership of the party. The party leaders have, however, different takes on going with the NC or PDP to form the next alliance govt.
A section of the party leaders are in favour of continuing the formula with change of leadership at the helm from the congress party instead of exploring the options of forming an alliance govt with the PDP. The reason given by these leaders is that NC is keen on staying in power and after the congress party gave full six year term to Omar Abdullah the party should not have any difficulties to now allow the Congress Chief Minister to head the state and stay in alliance.
The general view which is gaining momentum within the party is in favour of contesting the polls independently without forging any pre poll alliance with either party and the final decision on forging an alliance would be taken only after the conduct of the polls by the party high command. (JKNI)

Bad weather, rain disrupt Amarnath pilgrimage

SRINAGAR, Jun 29: Bad weather and rain disrupted pilgrimage to Holy Amarnath cave shrine from Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps for some time today.
Pilgrims undeterred by rain and bad weather left Baltal base camp at 0530 hrs this morning, a yatra control room official said.
However, the pilgrimage had to be stopped at 0830 hrs because of heavy rains, he said, adding that there was still light rain but the pilgrims are now marching towards the cave shrine.
"If roads would become slippery due to more rains, we will stop yatra," he said.
Similarly, yatra was going on from Nunwan Pahalgam route also, official said, adding that only those yatris, who have valid ' yatra permit' for today, were being allowed to move towards next halting station at Chandanwari.
He said pilgrims will be allowed from both Baltal and Pahalgam routes till 1100 hrs, and then the exact number of yatris leaving for Holy Cave will be known.
Defence ministry spokesperson Naresh Vij said GoC Chinar Corps Lt General Gurmit Singh reviewed overall security arrangements made for the pilgrimage.
He lauded all security agencies for the synergised efforts made by them towards security arrangements and other faciliies to meet various contingencies.
Naresh said the Chinar Corps Commander visited the holy cave yesterday and paid obeisance on behalf of Chief of the Army Staff, the Northern Army Commander and entire Chinar Corps to seek blessings of Lord Shiva.
Lt Gen Singh, the Security Advisor to state government, inspected the overall security arrangements.
GoC Chinar Corps interacted with troops of Army and other security forces deployed for the security of Yatra and appreciated them for their dedication and thoroughness towards putting up the security apparatus in place in harmony.
The General Officer said, "Passion for our Profession and Compassion for our Yatris is the motive of the Army deployed to facilitate the successful conduct of Yatra."
He said, "15 Corps is a reflection of India and Kashmiri Awaam, it is our solemn responsibility to ensure smooth conduct of Yatra."
The troops were highly motivated with the visit of Corps Commander, are geared up to put in their best and prepared to meet any contingency, he said. (UNI)

Third batch of 2,370 pilgrims leaves for Amarnath amid rains

Jammu: Amid rains, the third batch of 2,370 pilgrims today left for the holy Shri Amarnath Cave Shrine in South Kashmir from 'Yatri Niwas' at Bhagwati Nagar base camp in this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
''A batch comprising 1,773 males, 356 females, 47 children and 194 sadhus left for the Amarnath cave shrine from here in a convoy of 74 vehicles including 52 private and SRTC buses and 22 light motor vehicles,'' official spokesperson said. He said the first bus left at around 04:55 hrs and the last bus at 05:10 hrs.
''The yatra was suspended for sometime near Jakhaini in Udhampur district as one of the private vehicles had met with an accident on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to which the road was blocked,'' the spokesperson said, adding that the yatra is smoothly heading towards Srinagar after the road clearance.

Girl bids on life by jumping into river Tawi

GJ Report
Jammu, June 29: A 19-year-old girl today tried to end her life by jumping into the river Tawi under the jurisdiction of Nowabad police station.
Identified as Gunjan Jamwal of Talab Tillo, she jumped into the river Tawi and was immediately fished out by the police and shifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital", said a police officer adding that she was responding to the treatment when last reports came in.
Eyewitness stated that the girl was walking on the bridge and all of sudden she jumped into the river.
Police said that questioning of the girl is in progress and a case in this connection has been registered.
Sources said that the girl was frustrated over estrange relation between her parents and presently she was staying in the house of her friend.
Meanwhile, 29 year-old man who set himself on fire mysteriously and undergoing treatment at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMC&H) succumbed to burn injuries.
The deceased has been identified as Suresh Chander son of Laxman Dass of Nowshera presently at sector 6 in Gangyal.
Police said that the deceased received 90 percent burns on his body under mysterious circumstances at Gangyal and while during treatment at GMC&H he failed to respond the treatment.
Police said that after autopsy, the body was handed over to family members for last rites and police investigation is in progress.

‘Current registration counters set up’

SRINAGAR: In view of the significant number of unregistered pilgrims and pilgrims who have arrived ahead of their scheduled date of Yatra, the Divisional Administration Kashmir, in coordination with the Shrine Board, J&K Bank, and Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir, have established seven counters each at Pantha Chowk, Srinagar, and Tourist Reception Centre (TRC), Nowgam, Srinagar, to facilitate such Yatris to obtain registration before they can proceed to the Yatra Base Camps. This facility is in addition to the Current Registration arrangement available to Yatris at various locations in Jammu i.e. Vaishnavi Dham, Saraswati Dham, Jammu Haat and Ram Mandir.
This was informed today by Navin K. Choudhary, CEO, SASB.
All the Yatris are advised to obtain registration for the date on which they wish to undertake the Yatra beforehand to avoid unnecessary difficulties and inconvenience to themselves as well as the Administration.
The CEO further reiterated that the Yatris, in their own best interest, should cooperate with the Yatra Administration and should not reach Base Camps without first obtaining registration.
In addition, they should reach the Base Camps only a day before they are scheduled to undertake the Yatra. If they have arrived without registration or ahead of their date of registration, they should obtain Current Registration from the counters established at Jammu and Srinagar.
Today, 6132 Yatris left Baltal and 4409 Yatris left Pahalgam for the Holy Shrine. Today, the final darshan figure was 11530. The weather in the morning was cloudy and there were few spells of rain in the Yatra area. However, in the afternoon, the weather remained clear in most of the Yatra area.
The Yatris were stopped for brief periods at the Access Control Gates at Chandanwari and Baltal when there were strong showers.

Two arrested with pistol, weapon

Jammu: Jammu Police today arrested two persons alongwith a country made pistol and sharp edged weapons in two separate incidents, official spokesman here said.
"Based on a tip off, a miscreant identified as Vikas alias Sonu Cheer was arrested this evening from a nakka laid at Satwari in city outskirts," the spokesman here said.
He said that one country made pistol and four live cartridges were recovered from the possession of the accused.
"The arrested person was involved in different criminal activities," he said adding that his elder brother was also involved in militancy related activities few years ago.
A case has been registered and investigations are in progress.
Meanwhile in a separate incident, police arrested one Kewal Krishan, resident of village Charga in Marh area of Kanhachak.
"The accused was arrested at a nakka laid at Gajansoo alongwith a sharp edged weapon (Khokhri)," he said adding that a case under FIR number 111/13 under section 4/25 of Arms Act has been registered against him and investigations are in progress.

Kathua bids tearful adieu to ITBP inspector

KATHUA: An eerie silence today prevailed at Bobiya village in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district as hundreds of people quietly lined up at the crematorium to bid a tearful adieu to ITBP inspector Bhim Singh, who was killed in a chopper crash while rescuing stranded people in flood-hit Uttarakhand.
People from Bobiya and its adjoining areas gathered at the crematorium as the mortal remains of the braveheart were consigned to flames.
45-year-old Bhim Singh was among 20 personnel, including five other ITBP policemen, killed in the helicopter crash on Tuesday.
His body reached Jammu Airport at around 7:00 PM yesterday and from there it was taken to his native village by road. Singh is survived by his wife Renu, two daughters and a son.
"I was also on duty in Gauri Kund area. It was difficult to work in such circumstances. Hundreds of bodies were lying around. We had to work in tough atmosphere to save the lives of the people," recalled Bhim Singh's colleague inspector Manoj Kumar.
Paying tributes to the ITBP soldier, MLC Subash Gupta said, "He has made all of us proud."
Five Air Force, six ITBP and nine NDRF personnel was killed in the helicopter crash.
Meanwhile, family members of Bhim Singh rued the "lackadaisical attitude" of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah towards the deceased soldier.
"If a militant is killed, our CM goes to meet his family members but he has no words of respect for a brave soldier who laid down his life in the line of duty," alleged one of the family members.

Lightning kills minor, mother critical

Jammu: A 12 year-old boy was killed while his mother received injuries when lightning struck at their house in village Taladi Chapda under the jurisdiction of Rajouri Police station.
"Mohammad Shammem son of Muneer Hussain and his mother Razia Begum were sitting at their house when lightning struck upon them", said a police officer adding that the minor boy was died on the spot while his mother received severe burns.
Police said that neighbours immediately shifted them to nearby hospital where Shammem was decalred as brought dead and his mother is under treatment


Persuasion can help students to achieve scientific pursuits: Omar

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Saturday underlined the need of catching students as young as possible to ignite desire of pursuing high goals of science and technology in them. He said that this can be done at the school level by creating scientific temperament and providing ample opportunity to boys and girls at the elementary education level.
"You cannot make scientists of repute at the university level but these are born in schools", he said and called for giving children freehand to experiment and discover by themselves the secrets of science at the early stage of their life. He said his proposal for science museums at Srinagar and Jammu is to provide an open field for the boys and girls to get in touch with various aspects of science at their young age and discover the 'scientists' living within them.
Addressing the gathering before rededicating CSIR-IIIM Lab to Nation with Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Jaipal Reddy here, the Chief Minister said that the rich potential of Jammu and Kashmir in bio-technology and IT fields could not be harnessed owing to the long period of disturbance in the State.
Omar Abdullah said that IIIM Branch, Srinagar was shattered during the period of disturbance. "Its functioning came to a standstill, scientists and teachers left the institution and security forces stayed here", he said adding that with the rooting of normality, IIIM Srinagar started breathing again.
The Chief Minister said that he was keen to restore the Institution to its full functioning and developing as an Institute of repute and fame. He lauded the support provided by the Union Government and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in rejuvenating the Centre back to normal functioning and upgrading. He mentioned the efforts of Director CSIR-IIIM, Dr. Ram Vishwakarma and the Science Advisory Council to Chief Minister in this direction. He also referred to the support of various Union Ministers in the rejuvenation of this Centre at Srinagar.
Highlighting the importance of CSIR-IIIM Centre in the holistic development of a State like Jammu and Kashmir, Omar said that the potential of Valley as an aromatic and medicinal plants production area, besides the State's vast bio-diversity, are the best resources for economic betterment and job generation for youth. He said leather industry has promising future in the Valley as this part of the Country is on the top of the list of mutton consuming States and there is huge abundance of sheep and goat skin available to manufacture leather goods. He said this is the area which could provide substantial jobs to the locals.
In his speech, Union Minister for Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences, Jaipal Reddy made five announcements to upgrade and strengthen the CSIR-IIIM in the State. He announced Central support for two Bio-Technological Parks, World Class Value Addition Centre for Aroma, State-of-Art Leather Centre, Science Museum and Academy of Scientific Research.
Jaipal Reddy lauded Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah for his keen interest in developing scientific temperament in the students of the State and utilizing intervention of Science and Technology to seek welfare and development of the State. He assured the support of his Ministry to the State in this endeavour.
Minister of State for Science and Technology, Feroz Ahmad Khan said that the State Government led by Omar Abdullah has flagged Science and Technology sector as a focused area.
He said that there is need to create better infrastructure, high quality faculty and greater interaction between academia and industry at the university level.
Director General CSIR, Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari on the occasion announced up-gradation of CSIR-IIIM Branch, Srinagar as a full-fledged Centre and said that from today it should be recognized as CSIR-IIIM Centre, Srinagar. He asked the Director CSIR-IIIM, Dr. Ram Vishwakarma to be In-Charge of both the Srinagar and Jammu Centres.
He said on the behest of Omar Abdullah CSIR is conducting research at its 7 Centres to utilize bio-mass of Dal Lake for producing diesel, energy and fertilizers.
He said that on the intervention of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, CSIR-IIIM was able to procure Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) equipment for the CSIR-IIIM Centre which would be installed here soon.
In his elaborative speech the Director CSIR-IIIM, Dr. Ram Vishwakarma said that the deliberations of the function are being witnessed at 40 CSIR-IIIM Centres in the Country adding that in a way CSIR-IIIM of the State has become Pan-India Research Centre.
He referred to Colonel R. N. Chopra who had laid the foundation of Drug Research Laboratory of J&K in 1941 and Drug Manufacturing Laboratories at Baramulla and Srinagar to produce Belladona, Santonin, Diosgenin, Pyrethrum and Sulfa-guanidine besides starting Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu in 1957. He also referred the efforts of late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the development of Drug Research Laboratory.
The Union Minister and the Chief Minister also laid foundation of Hostel and rededicated Dr. Akhter Hussain Laboratory and Colonel R. N. Chopra IIIM Centre to the Nation. They also inspected various research units, leather centre and laboratories in the Institute and interacted with research scholars, students and faculty members.


Captivating Kashmir motivates everyone to visit paradise: Khursheed

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Salman Khursheed acclaimed the beauty of Kashmir. He said that its lush green meadows surrounded by majestic mountains with fresh lakes captivates every one and motivates us to visit this paradise on earth again and again. He underscored the need for concerted efforts by the government and civil society to preserve the rich environs of the serene spots and water bodies.
Expressing his ideas during his motor boat ride in world famous Dal and Nigeen lakes here, Khursheed appreciated the efforts of the State Government for exploring virgin spots besides preserving the rich environs of water bodies especially Dal and Nigeen lakes which receive first attention of the tourists during their visit to the Valley.
Minister for Tourism, Ghulam Ahmad Mir on the occasion apprised the Union Minister about the measures taken by State Government for promotion of tourism in the State. He said that State Government has identified and developed new virgin spots like Yusmarg, Doodpathri, Gurez, Lolab and Bungus where concerted effort is being made to create tourist related infrastructure.
The Tourism Minister apprised him that State Government has also launched a vigorous promotional campaign in and outside the Country to attract the tourists to visit these spots apart from world famous Gulmarg and Pahalgam like tourists destinations.
Mir said that State's rich adventure tourism potential is being explored through various activities like water sports, heli-skiing, skiing, para-gliding, Gondola riding, mountain trekking and many more, adding that golf tourism is also being promoted in the State by developing new golf courses like Sidhra Golf Course Jammu, Leh Golf Course, Gulmarg and Pahalgam golf Courses.
Tourism Minister hailed UPA Government for providing liberal financial assistance under the tourism sector to the State, adding that state has witnessed rapid growth and up-gradation of tourist related infrastructure facilities in all the three regions of Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir.


AISF protests in Gandoh to highlight demands

DODA, JUN 29: All India Students Federation (AISF) unit of Gandoh Bhalessa staged a strong protest and took out a massive rally against the Administration for not fulfilling their genuine demands. They were demanding basic facilities for GHSS Gandoh like drinking water, toilets, besides adequate teaching faculty and introduction of new subjects in the school.
The rally was led by District President, AISF, Mukesh Parihar.
On the occasion, Tehsildar, Gandoh, Bhalessa, Din Mohammad assured the students that their genuine demands will be considered at the earliest. He also assured that he will putforth the demand of the construction of GDC, Kilhotran and GHSS, Gandoh at appropriate platform for early consideration.
Later, the AISF members also met Sub Divisional Magistrate, Gandoh Bhalessa G. Prasanna Ramaswamy. The SDM directed BDO Gandoh, Principal, GHSS, Gandoh and AEE (PHE) for constructing Toilet Complex, Water Reservoir and drinking water facilities for Higher Secondary School, Gandoh, respectively.
AISF District Vice President, Mohd Saleem, Tehsil General Secretary, Mohd Imran, President, GHSS Gandoh, Mohd Younis, Vice President, Shoda Manhas and hundreds of students including girls participated in the rally.


Jitendra invites Omar to join debate over Article 370

JAMMU, JUN 29: BJP questioned the silence adopted by the Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah on "Autonomy" between 1975 and 1983 when he was Chief Minister of J&K with absolute majority and full Congress support in the State Legislative Assembly.
The BJP has also invited Omar to participate in the open debate over Article 370 with facts and figures.
Reacting to the response of the Omar Abdullah on twitter to L K Advani's advise, BJP National Executive Member and J&K Chief Spokesperson, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the answer is very simple that Advani was a part of a multi-party coalition NDA government of which Omar Abdullah was also a part and the BJP did not have sufficient numbers to do anything about Article 370.
In the same phraseology as used by Omar in his Tweet, Dr Jitendra Singh went on to say, now it is Omar's turn to devote some Twitter space to explain Sheikh Abdullah's "silence" on "Autonomy" between 1975 and 1983 when he was Chief Minister of J&K with absolute majority and full Congress support in the State Legislative Assembly.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that abrogation of Article 370 is BJP's consistent stand unlike National Conference which rakes up "Autonomy" only when out of power or when fearing loss of power. That is why, he said this time in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections we are going to people to seek absolute majority for the BJP so that we can pursue our avowed objective for abrogation of Article 370. And if BJP manages to come to power on its own, our experience tells us that fringe regional parties like National Conference will automatically join us, he quipped.
About Omar Abdullah's Tweet seeking to learn from Advani's "wisdom" about the constitutional mechanism to repeal Article 370, Singh said Omar will have to study the Constitution of India to learn that there is already a constitutional mechanism in place which was formulated by the collective "wisdom" of the makers of Constitution none of whom belonged to BJP or Jan Sangh which was not even born at that time.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that if Omar Abdullah sincerely wants to become further "wiser" on the issue of Article 370, he is welcome to engage himself in an open public debate with us and allow the people to judge who stands where. Twitter is too subjective and unilateral a medium for a fair bilateral debate, he added.
Singh said "We are ready for an open public debate with facts, figures and evidence to prove that Article 370 has done more harm than good to the people of State including those of Kashmir valley".


Karan Singh donates Rs 55 lakh for Uttrakhand victims

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Dr Karan Singh today said that horrific Himalayan Tsunami had caused untold havoc in Uttarakhand where thousands of precious lives including our brave security forces have been lost, whole villages have disappeared and the fragile Himalayan ecology has received a massive blow.
He said that for decades "I have lent my voice to the anxiety felt by committed environmentalist's regarding the extensive deforestation in the Himalayas and also the building of massive dams on the Ganga and its tributaries. I would urge that there should be an agonizing reappraisal of our whole environmental policy in the Himalayas. Meanwhile, we must all do our bit to support the massive relief and rehabilitation effort that is urgently needed".
He donated R 50 lakh from MPLADS fund and R 5 lakh on behalf of the Dharmarth Trust, Jammu and Kashmir.
Describing the completion of the over eleven kilometer long railway tunnel between Qazigund in Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region as a landmark achievement, Karan Singh said that this is indeed a remarkable technological achievement and it is befitting that Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi both have participated in its inauguration.


File statement of facts or else Principal to appear in person: HC

JAMMU, JUN 29: In a contempt petition filed by the Parents Coordination Committee and others against KC International School, Justice Ali Mohd Magrey of J&K High Court at its Jammu Wing after hearing Advocate Abhinav Sharma appearing for the petitioners and Advocate Aditya Gupta for the respondent school, observed that in terms of earlier order, respondents were directed to file statement of facts and compliance report but till date compliance report had not been filed.
Advocate Abhinav Sharma submitted that despites orders from the Court respondents (School) are harassing the wards of petitioners and are bent upon to show them exit which is evident from the approach adopted and the material produced on record. Upon this Justice Ali Mohd Magrey granted two weeks time to respondents (School) to submit the statement of facts and compliance report, and in default Harinder Chakhaiya, Principal of KC International School shall remain personally present before the Court on the next date of hearing. (JNF)


Court acquits 3 Heroin smugglers

JAMMU, JUN 29: Second Additional Sessions Judge Jammu, Subash C Gupta today acquitted Ved Parkash, Tarsem Singh @ Fouji and Tarsem Lal from whom 6 kg heroin was recovered, as prosecution miserably failed to prove the case.
On June 18, 2009 Police Station Khour registered an FIR against Ved Parkash, Tarsem Singh @ Fouji and Tarsem Lal u/s 8/22/23/29 NDPS Act. According to the police, at about 10:45 AM the above said accused persons were on a Motorcycle and after their search 3 bags containing 2 kg heroine each were recovered and after completion of investigation challan was presented in the Court.
Second Additional Sessions Judge Jammu Subash C Gupta after hearing both the sides observed that where there are contradictions in version of the official witnesses, corroboration from the independent witnesses is imperative in order to have just, fair and impartial justice. However, in the present case, it is totally lacking as independent witness namely Jagdeep Singh has not supported the prosecution at all. Court after going through the statements of the witnesses held that prosecution has miserably failed to prove the alleged recovery of Heroin from the possession of the accused and as such they are acquitted of the charges leveled against them. (JNF)


Economics & Statistics Deptt celebrates '7th Statistics Day'

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: To commemorate the 120th birth anniversary of father of Indian Statistical System late Prof Prasanta Chandra Mahalnobis, the Department of Economics and Statistics celebrated the 7th Statistics Day here today.
Minister for Labour, Employment and Planning, Ajay Sadhotra was the chief Guest on the occasion while Principal Secretary Planning and Development, B. R Sharma was Guest of Honour.
Addressing the function, the Minister said that the statistics is a magical science adding that the concerned officers should make concerted and focused efforts throughout the year to fill the data gaps, improve timeliness and quality of data related to the labour and employment which is the theme of this year's Statistics Day.
He directed for collecting reliable data for use in planning, implementation, monitoring and re-designing of various developmental programmes, adding that the activity is absolutely essential for the State to develop more rapidly than in the past.
Paying tributes to Prof. Mahalnobis, Sadhotra said that the Professor was the First Statistical Advisor to Union Cabinet who laid the foundation for promoting teaching and research in statistics and for developing the official statistical system in the Country.
Referring to the theme of this year's Statistics Day "Labour and Employment", the Minister said that the State Government is committed to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society in particular.
Principal Secretary, Planning and Development, B. R. Sharma in his address called Mahalnobis a legendary figure, a great statistician and promoter of talent. He said that professor made pioneering and lasting contribution in the fields of large scale sample surveys and India's Five Year Plans. Sharma further said that it should be our endeavour not only to carry forward the legacy of the professor but also take appropriate steps to improve the Statistical System in order to meet the ever increasing data needs of diverse users.
In his introductory remarks, Director Economics and Statistics, B. R. Lachotra said that our Country has produced several great statisticians but contributions made by Late Mahalnobis are exemplary.
Lachotra hoped that the celebration of Statistics Day will sensitize our statistical fraternity and other stakeholders about the importance and role of statistics in addressing global challenges besides inspiring them for addressing data gaps in the country and State so that right inputs could be provided to the planners and policy makers for ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth.
At the outset, Assistant Director Planning, Ms. Iram presented the welcome address and Joint Director Central; Tariq Ahmad proposed the vote of thanks.
In technical session, noted Economist, Dr. Nisar Ali spoke on 'Statistics and Inferences with focus on J&K' while as Joint Director Tariq Ahmad gave power point presentation on 'The J&K Collection of Statistics Act'.


PHQ bids adieu to Rasutra, Mushtaq

SRINAGAR, JUN 28: A warm send off was given at a simple but impressive function held at PHQ this evening in honour of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Administration) PHQ, R. P. Rasutra, Director Prosecution (PHQ), Mushtaq Ahmed Pandit and Liyaqat Ali Sub-Inspector on their superannuation. The officers superannuated this afternoon after rendering valuable services to the Police Organization.
The farewell function was presided over by the Director General of Police (DGP), Ashok Prasad and attended by Additional Directors General of Police, P.L. Gupta, Mrs. D. R. Doley and Dilbag Singh besides other senior police officers.
On the occasion, Prasad lauded the contribution of superannuating officers and praised them for their dedication and professionalism. He said that these officers during their long service career in the department have contributed a lot for strengthening the department. He said that they were most professional officers of the Organization, by the dint of whose dedication and valour, the Police Organization achieved heights of excellence. He said that they have rendered exemplary services and always remained loyal to the law. The DGP said that police headquarters will be always available for the retiring officers and whenever they require any assistance, they can approach the department without any hesitation. The ADGP (Coordination), P. L. Gupta also addressed the function and appreciated the contribution of the superannuating officers and said that they have proved themselves very dedicated and people friendly police officers.
Rasutra and Pandit also shared their long experiences of service career and thanked the DGP and other senior officers for their support and guidance in serving the people.


Emotional adieu to Shishu Pal by Info Deptt

JAMMU, JUN 29: An emotional adieu was bid to senior cameraman Shishu Pal on attaining superannuation by the Department of Information here today. Joint Director Information, Mrs. Smita Sethi, Deputy Director (PR) Information Mrs. Jyoti Rani Salathia, Field Publicity Officer Vivek Phonsa, and other senior officers of the Joint Directorate of Information were present on the occasion.
Addressing the function the Joint Director highlighted the contributions of Shishu Pal and said that his contributions will always be revered by the department as a photographer of his stature was an asset to the department. She wished him a healthy and prosperous retired life and hoped that he would scale new heights in the field of photography in future too. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Director Information Public Relations Mrs. Jyoti Rani Salathia said that Shishu Pal will always be remembered for his dedication and professionalism. She said Shishu Pal rendered glorious 29 years of service and created an indelible niche by dint of his hard work.


Ensure hassle-free facilities to the people during Ramadan: Akhoon

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: The Advisor to the Chief Minister Qamar Ali Akhoon today chaired a high level meeting of the Divisional administration of Kashmir, convened to take stock of the arrangements made for ensuing holy month of Ramadan beginning in the second week of July.
The meeting discussed the measures taken by the government for providing hassle-free facilities to the people during the holy month.
The Advisor directed the authorities of Public Health Engineering Department to provide un-interrupted drinking water facilities to the people during the holy month. He instructed the authorities to gear up the field staff with the instructions to look into the leakages in pipes and ensure replacement of damaged pipes, wherever necessary, within a week's time. He also directed to keep drinking water tankers available round the clock to the people in case of any eventuality.
Akhoon directed the authorities of the Power Development Department to ensure un-interrupted power supply to the people especially at Sehri and Iftaar times. He directed them to ensure repairs of damaged transformers and their installation at respective places within a week's time.
The Advisor stressed upon the authorities of Srinagar Municipal Corporation to launch a special sanitation drive around the mosques, shrines and other religious places besides all city roads. He directed the authorities of SMC to press additional men and machinery into service and ensure lifting of garbage on daily basis from all over the city.
The Advisor directed the authorities of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA&PD) to ensure availability and essential commodities including sugar and atta at their sale centres. He also directed them to intensify market checking and ensure that consumers are not cheated by black marketers and profiteers.
Among others, Additional Commissioner, Kashmir, DIG Police Kashmir, Vice Chairman Waqaf Board, Joint Commissioner SMC, RTO Kashmir and other divisional level officers attended the meeting.


Divine Yoga Meditation Camp organised along Sindhu bank

LEH, JUNE 29: Spiritual aspirants from various cities of India including Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad are enjoying the Yoga Meditation practice at the holy bank of Sindhu River under the guidance of popular spiritual leader Mahayogi H.H. Narayan Prem Sai, son of world renowned saint Asaram ji Bapu. The Divine Yoga Meditation Camp is going on at Sindhu Darshan Resort Agling and shall conclude on 3rd July. Those attending the camp are being imparted Yoga Meditation training free of cost.
Apart from yoga and meditation, the spiritual aspirants also visited popular places in Leh including Magnetic Hill, Sangam, Gurudwara Patther Sahib, and Sindhu Ghat with the Mahayogi Shri Sai ji. The group also visited H.H. Dalai Lama's residence and Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre where a detailed discussion took place between Narayan Prem Sai and Bhikshuk Sangasena for the betterment and unity of the society.
He also said that more and more such social culture spiritual programmes need to be organized so that moral values and principles of unity, peace, love, harmony, non-violence and truth can be cultivated in our society.
Today students of 40 schools of Leh who successfully qualified the training were awarded certificates by Mahayogi Shri Narayan Prem Sai during a function organized in the premises of Bharatiya Vidya Niketan School on the eve of 150th Jayanti of Swami Vivekananda.
Hindu Trust Mahasabha President Ajay Verma informed that to honour Shri Narayan Prem Sai for the great social service, he is rendering for the people in Leh Ladakh, Hindu Trust Mahasabha will organize a huge gathering at Hare Krishna Mandir where Shri Narayan Prem Sai ji will deliver a highly inspiration and motivational lecture in front of huge gathering in Radha Krishna temple and will explain the need and role of spiritual practices for a happy, healthy and honourable life. This would be followed by a langer, he informed.


First Lady lauds activities undertaken by 'Guild for Service'

SRINAGAR, JUN 29: The Raahat Ghar, Zakura, Srinagar, run by the 'Guild for Service', New Delhi, celebrated its Annual Day at the Government Medical College Hall, Karan Nagar, here this evening.
Mrs. Usha Vohra, First Lady, was the Chief Guest, and Ms. Sakina Itoo, Minister for Social Welfare, was the Guest of Honour.
Speaking on the occasion, the First Lady lauded the efforts of the 'Guild for Service' for running the Raahat Ghar for the rehabilitation of orphans and destitute women. She observed that the confidence displayed by children who put up the variety programme indicates that they are balanced young girls who are happy with whatever they are doing. She added that this also demonstrates that Raahat Ghar, besides meeting their food, shelter, educational and other requirements, has also contributed to their psychological rehabilitation. In this context, she lauded the excellent initiatives of Dr. Mohini Giri and Dr. Girija Dhar and their missionary devotion to the welfare of destitute children and women.
The First Lady said that the Governor has desired to visit Raahat Ghar and discuss its requirements with Dr. Dhar. She congratulated the Raahat Ghar on its Annual Day function.
The First Lady felicitated the children for achieving academic excellence and the staff for working with dedication.
Dr. Mohini Giri honoured the First Lady and Ms. Itoo by presenting them mementos on this occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Sakina Itoo appreciated the valuable work done by Raahat Ghar for the rehabilitation of orphans and making all out efforts to enable them to stand on their own feet. She assured all possible support to Raahat Ghar in its initiatives. She dwelt on various schemes being implemented by the Government for imparting vocational training to the youth and said that children of Raahat Ghar could optimally benefit from these schemes.
Earlier, in her welcome address, Dr. Mohini Giri, Chairperson, Guild for Service, dwelt on the activities of her organization. She thanked the Lady Governor for being the Chief Guest and blessing the children of Raahat Ghar. She also thanked Ms. Itoo for being the Guest of Honour on this occasion.
Dr. Girija Dhar, Chairperson, Raahat Ghar, Srinagar, presented a brief history of the evolution and activities of the Raahat Ghar. She thanked the First Lady for taking keen interest in the functioning of Raahat Ghar and participating in its Annual Day functions continuously for the past three years.
An inmate of Raahat Ghar, Manzoor, presently pursuing B. Tech course, presented the Vote of Thanks.
Among those present on the occasion were Advisory Committee Members of 'Guild for Service' and Raahat Ghar, prominent women and children of Raahat Ghar.


DC appeals to people to donate generously for Uttrakhand victims

JAMMU, JUN 29: Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Ajeet Kumar Sahu who is also the Chairman of the District Red Cross Society, Jammu has appealed to the general public to donate for the cause of victims of Uttrakhand Disaster.
The DC stressed that the state of Uttrakhand and its people require our support to rebuild their state and appealed to the people to rise to the need of the hour and contribute generously to lessen the sufferings of the people in distress.
All other Executive members of Indian Red Cross Society, Jammu present on the occasion also appealed to the generous residents of Jammu to come forward for such a noble cause and donate to Indian Red Cross Society, District Branch Jammu.
The donation can be made either in cash to be deposited at Red Cross Bhawan, Kacchi Chawni Jammu or through cheque/draft by sending it to exclusive bank account for Uttrakhand victims with Punjab and Sind Bank Shalimar branch under saving bank account No.01731000030394 standing in the name of District Red Cross Society, Jammu (IFS code PSIB 0000173). The donation can also be made by making online transaction to the above said account.
The DC apprised that every donation made to Red Cross Society is eligible to a cent percent tax exemption under section 35 AC or 80GGA. The Chairman Red Cross Society has placed a target of collecting Rs.10 lakh within a month for the cause. Donation boxes and booths shall also be set up by the DRCS Jammu at Railway Station and the Airport for this purpose.
The DC apprised the gathering that people of Jammu and the District Red Cross Society has always stood for such human cause whether it was for Leh cloud burst or Latoor earthquake or any other disaster in other parts of the world.


Bhim dares BJP, NC, Congress for open debate on Article 370

JAMMU, JUN 29: Prof. Bhim Singh, Chief Patron of National Panthers Party and Member of National Integration Council has dared the leaders of BJP, NC and Congress to join him in an open debate on the relevance of Article 370 in 2013. He pointed out that BJP has been exploiting the emotions of the electorates in the name of Article 370 and Ram Mandir with the sole objective to expand their vote bank. On the other hand Congress and NC have been making full use of BJP's provoking slogans to add votes to their kitty. This hide and seek game is being played by both sides to create communal hatred only for the sake of electoral gains.
Prof. Bhim Singh asked the BJP leaders why they forgot Article 370 when they were in power at the Centre for six years. He reminded that he had taken up the issue with the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee seeking his intervention for introducing amendment in the temporary provisions of Article 370. Responding to Omar Abdullah's statement in the presence of Prime Minister in Banihal that "Article 370 shall be abrogated on his dead body, the NPP Supremo asked Omar what led him to sit in the lap of BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India. Didn't he know then that BJP always stood for abrogation of Article 370? Singh alleged that Omar Abdullah has understood that the Kashmiris do not accept his leadership and that's why he has started talking in the terms of Jamat-e-Islami.
Prof. Bhim Singh reminded the intellectuals and the historians that Article 370 was inserted in the Constitution of India in 1950 when Maharaja Hari Singh was still the king of J&K with a limited sovereign power vis-à-vis the internal affairs. He had surrendered voluntarily defence, foreign affairs and communications to the Union of India. Article 370 was brought only to scuttle his power by empowering President of India as the viceroy. In November, 1952 the Constituent Assembly of J&K abrogated monarchy in J&K. With the abrogation of monarchy, Article 370 lost its relevance and constitutional mandate and rightly so because it was a temporary measure only to rein in the Maharaja of J&K. A temporary provision cannot last for more than half of a century, Bhim Singh asserted. He stressed that amendment in Article 370 is essential to extend the fruits of democracy to J&K.


State Government Employees demand special duty allowance

LEH, JUN 29: Demanding 12.5 % (Special Duty Allowance) SDA at par with the Central Government Employees serving in Ladakh, thousands of State Government Employees under the banner of State Government Employees Association (SGEA) went on strike in Leh today.
Addressing a huge gathering at Polo ground Leh today, SGEA President Tashi Chospel strongly condemned the step motherly attitude of the state government towards its employees posted in Ladakh region by not paying due heed to their genuine demand of granting SDA. Giving ten days ultimatum to the State Government, Chospel said that if the genuine demand is not fulfilled, the employees will intensify their strike w.e.f. 10th July 2013. He appealed to the employees present during the protest to participate in the strike to press their demands till fulfilled. On behalf of SGEA, he also thanked MLC Nurboo Gyaltsan for raising their demand in the parliament session.
Chospel regretted that the State Government despite the assurance by the Minister for Finance & Ladakh Affairs in presence of Minister for Urban Development Nawang Rigzin Jora during their meeting at Jammu in the month of March 2013 to reconsider the demand sympathetically within shortest possible time, no action/decision has been taken by the State Government during the past three months.
The SGEA Vice Presidents Mohd Ayub and Norzin Angmo while addressing the protesting employees said that granting of SDA to the central government employees in Ladakh region as per the 6th Pay Commission has to be arrived at by taking into account the high cost of living and climatic conditions of Ladakh region. However the state government employees have been deprived of this assistance due to utter insensitive attitude of state government and lack of understanding of the difficulties faced by its employees serving in Ladakh region, they rued. The speakers warned that such insensitive attitude of the state government would leave the employees with no choice but to come on streets.
The employees later handed over a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner Simrandeep Singh who assured them that their demands would be forwarded to the concerned authorities.
Later, the employees marched up to Council Secretariat to handover a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister Government of Jammu & Kashmir through CEC, LAHDC Leh seeking early redressal of their genuine demands.

  Sunday Magazine