Omar Fears Communal Strife Ahead Of 2014 Polls

Omar Fears Communal Strife Ahead Of 2014 Polls

23 September 2013
Greater Kashmir


New Delhi: Voicing apprehensions that attempts would be made to polarize the society in run up to 2014 general elections, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday called for unified efforts to thwart the designs of communal elements. Expressing concern over the attempts to undermine the centuries old bonds of communal harmony and the secular fabric of the country, Omar impressed upon the people to jointly preserve and promote peaceful co-existence of multiple religions, pluralistic ethos and varied cultures in the country. “We should take a lead in promoting the feeling of oneness and respect for each other. It is the bounden duty of all of us to uphold the fundamentals of the Constitution of India and bridge the trust deficit among different communities to promote national integration”, Omar said while addressing the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh here today. Omar said the agenda points pertaining to measures to promote communal harmony, tackle communal disturbances and address safety and security of women are issues of urgent concern and have rightly been selected for deliberations in today’s NIC meeting. Referring to the communal clash in Kishtwar in the state, the Chief Minister said that before 2008 state Assembly polls efforts were made to use the communal card and after the recent violence in Kishtwar attempts were made to spread trouble to other parts of Jammu but his government brought the situation under control within 24 hours. J&K Chief Minister made reference to recent visit by the Prime Minister to violence hit Muzaffarnagar and said that a political party described this visit as ‘secular tourism’ and said that political parties should be ‘a little less hypocritical. He said this in an apparent reference to a political leaders attempt to travel to Kishtwar during communal violence there and said if the Prime Minister’s visit has been termed as ‘secular tourism’ should the thwarted attempt of that political leaders to travel to Kishtwar be called ‘communal tourism’. The Chief Minister said the state administration took all the needed measures to contain the situation and ensure no loss of life or property. He said various measures were also taken to restore confidence among the different communities and sects. Omar mentioned the cases of communal incidents in Jammu and Kashmir and North East states being treated separately in the NIC agenda and questioned “why are you treating us separately?”, he asked the Union Home Minister, Shinde. In response to this, Shinde said that this would be kept in mind and rectified in future. Chief Minister said constitution of peace committees at village, Panchayat, municipal and town levels comprising of civil society groups in communally sensitive areas, inclusion of topics on basic teachings of different religions in the curricula at primary school level, inclusion of teachings on communal harmony in morning prayers in the educational institutions and involvement of NGOs in the sustained campaign in this regard could be befitting measure to achieve the goal. Omar said that during the incidence of communal violence, the propaganda of peace inimical elements and frivolous rumours make the situation worse. He said measures should be well placed to counter the rumours by providing correct information to the masses promptly. He said social organizations and local administration have a special role to play in this direction as such these should be strengthened and encouraged to be prompt to tackle such situations. He also suggested revisiting the practice of setting up of schools and hostels exclusively for particular communities. He said that in the matters of postings and transfers, emphasis should be on posting of employees of one region to another to foster mutual understanding. Underlining that “Kashmiriyat” is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits, Chief Minister urged the Centre to enhance the cash incentive and jobs for youths from the displaced community who want to return to the Valley. Omar said a revised proposal has been submitted to the Centre for enhancing the ceiling for various incentives available under the PM's Package for the Return and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Migrants in Kashmir Valley, announced in 2008. The Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir is a pluralistic, multilingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic state which does not have a history of communal riots. 'When the entire country was in the throes of partition in 1947, the communal harmony in the state provided the only ray of hope to Mahatma Gandhiji. The state went through a tumultuous period in the early 90s, which saw the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir Valley,' he said. 'People of the state are conscious of the fact that the composite culture of the State, often referred to as 'Kashmiriyat' is incomplete without the return of the Kashmiri Pandits,' he said, adding that the state government is keen to rehabilitate and re-settle Kashmiri migrants in the Valley. He said the state government has proposed enhancing the cash incentive from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for re-construction of houses and also provision of additional 3000 jobs for Kashmiri migrant youths who would return to the Valley. Chief Minister said J&K has the distinction of having one of the lowest reported cases of crime against women. “This is largely due to the moral values and cultural ethos of the society of Jammu and Kashmir and efforts of the State administration including Police”, he said adding that for ensuring safety and security of women, the State government has taken various measures and constituted a committee of officers to register and enquire complaints promptly in this regard. He said requisite legislation has been incorporated in the law to curb crimes against women. Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand and State Principal Secretary Home were also present in the meeting.