Omar asks Centre to take steps for addressing Kashmir issue

Omar asks Centre to take steps for addressing Kashmir issue

7 May 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said the Centre should take steps to address the internal and external dimensions of Jammu and Kashmir issue and hoped that India and Pakistan will continue dialogue process for its resolution. While addressing a press conference on the occasion of re-opening of move offices in summer capital here, Omar said 'We hope that the Centre will take all the steps needed to address the internal as well as external dimensions of Kashmir issue.' He hoped that the ongoing dialogue between India and Pakistan will continue for addressing the outstanding issues between the two countries. 'We hope like last month, in future also, India and Pakistan will continue dialogue process so that we will also make efforts for addressing the political issues within Jammu and Kashmir,' he added. Mr Abdullah said that significant headway had been made on the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) but 'unfortunately, we could not cross the final barrier'. He said he was hopeful that there will be significant progress on revocation of the AFSPA in the coming months. 'There were two ways for us to move forward on the AFSPA - one to remain silent and the other to put the issue in public debate. We worked on the first but when it did not yield the result, we shifted to the public discussions and debate on the issue. The discussion is going on in New Delhi at both political and operational levels. We will continue to work for it', said the CM. He said 'We are still on the correct path. In the months to come, we will see progress on revocation of the AFSPA from some areas where there was no need for the army to operate.' The Chief Minister said the Government will hold the local bodies' elections this year as a huge amount of funds under various Centrally-Sponsored Schemes are withheld. He said that final decision on whether to defer them will be taken at the first or second cabinet meeting here at Srinagar. Omar said the Government was planning to hold elections to Municipal bodies, other than the corporations in Jammu and Srinagar, at the earliest. 'There were plans to hold elections before the onset of tourism season this year but could not do so as the tourists started arriving two months ahead of expectations. In fact our season never ended as we had good number of tourists coming even during January and February. The budget session of assembly also prevented us from holding these polls,' said Omar. On empowerment of Panchayats, the Chief Minister said that the process is going on and it will not be pain less as it is a new system that is being introduced. He said that holding of panchayat elections was no doubt the success of the Government to reintroduce Panchayat system in the State after the lapse of over 30 years. 'I disagree with those who create doubts regarding transfer of powers to these grass root democratic units. During my interaction with Panchs and Sarpanchs all across the State, I had said that the transfer of powers to these units would not be painless. A new generation of politicians has emerged during this period and working in the new set up has to be harmonized', Omar said. He said that powers have already been transferred to panchayats and more powers are being transferred soon. He said constitution of block and district panchayat bodies are also in the pipeline and during next six months there will be significant forward movement in transfer of powers to the panchayats. Omar said that his Government has asked the Centre to enhance to Rs 20 lakh the assistance for renovation and reconstruction of houses for Kashmiri Pandit families willing to return to Kashmir. 'At present, the assistance for reconstructing or renovating the house is only Rs 7 lakh, which is not enough. We have submitted a proposal to the Centre for enhancing it to Rs 20 lakh,' he said. Omar said that Kashmiri Pandits might not have had the sense of security to come back at the time when the Prime Minister's rehabilitation programme was launched. He hoped their return and said there has been a lot of improvement in the security and economic situation since then. He said the Government has put in place economic security programme for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. 'Under the employment package they are being provided job opportunities in the Valley and we have been successful to a greater extent in implementing the employment package', he said. On the forthcoming Amarnathji yatra, the Chief Minister said Government is making arrangements for the safety of pilgrims as per the data provided by the Shrine Board. The Chief Minister said the State Government had requested the Shrine Board to make health certificates mandatory for all the pilgrims from this year as more than 100 yatries had died due to natural causes last year. He said that the Shrine Board has to issue the date for yatra and register the yatris. He said that Government will provide all facilities for the successful conduct of yatra. Omar said that Government will expedite efforts to fulfill the promises and commitments made to the people of the State during the 2008 Assembly elections and thereafter. He said we will leave no stone unturned to expedite the development works in the State. 'Although there is no common minimum programme, we are fulfilling the common promises made by the coalition parties in their election manifestos,' said Omar. The Chief Minister hoped that this year will remain peaceful in the Valley like the previous year with the cooperation of the people. Omar said that the Government will make its efforts to uphold the communal harmony in the State. He said that there is no role of religion in the Government and made it clear that everyone has his own right to preach his religion. He said that Government wants peaceful existence of people in the State. The Chief Minister termed the darbar move as a necessary evil and advocated a reverse darbar move so that the Government stays with the people of the two regions during extreme weather conditions. Omar said that under 'reverse darbar' the capital of the State should stay in Jammu in summers and in Srinagar during winters so that people's problems are addressed. 'It is my personal opinion and not that of the Government. There should be reverse Darbar move so that the Government is with the people when they are facing hardships,' said Omar. 'Darbar move is an expensive affair but the Government has to do it', he said, adding that there is no option than this. On a question about the central deputation of top IAS officers of the State, the Chief Minister said that State Government can't hold back the state cadre IAS officers since Central deputation is necessary for their further promotion. 'We are trying to bring back some of them but we have not been able to do so', he added.