AIIMS To Jammu Not At Kashmir's Cost, Says PDP

9 June 2015
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: As BJP scales up its rhetoric on establishing All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu, senior PDP leader and Minister for Education Naeem Akhter Tuesday said giving the Institute to Jammu won't be at the cost of Kashmir. He said politicizing the AIIMS issue is a zero-sum game and won't serve the interests of the either region. Akther's statement comes close on the heels of assertions made by Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) DrJitendera Singh that AIIMS will be first set up in Jammu region. Tempers in Jammu are already high over the issue of setting up of AIIMS there first with Coordination Committee headed by Jammu Bar Association President Abhinav Sharma planning to go for hunger strike to press for their demand. Talking to Greater Kashmir, Akhter said the government's focus should be on improvement of healthcare in the state. 'Question is not where it is (AIIMS) set up. Our focus has to be on improving the healthcare, rather than converting primary healthcare into tertiary care. Giving AIIMS to Jammu won't be at the cost of Kashmir,' he said. Akhter said there is also no movement yet on five Medical Colleges already sanctioned two years ago. 'So politicizing the issue of AIIMS is a zero-sum game which ultimately won't serve the interest of people of either region'. Senior BJP leader and Minister for Health and Medical Education Minister ChoudharyLal Singh on the floor of the house during the budget session in Jammu had asserted that he will find out the reason why 'AIIMS was snatched from Jammu.' 'Even if I have to make several rounds to the offices of Health Minister in Delhi, to find out the reason, I won't mind,' he had stated. He got support from an unexpected quarter National Conference Provincial President for Jammu Devender Singh Rana, who also demanded in the State Legislative Assembly that Jammu be given AIIMS too. Pertinently, Jammu had observed a complete band seeking AIIMS in the district recently on the CC's call. Talking to Greater Kashmir, CC chairman said they only want the government to implement the initial decision on AIIMS. 'Initial decision was that the institute be set up in Jammu. It was changed later when the PDP and BJP framed Common Minimum Program (CMP). We are not against setting up the Institute in Kashmir also,' Sharma said. 'To press for our demand, we are mulling to launch a sustained campaign and to begin with, we will go for hunger strike in the coming days.' Pertinently, on March 1, Union Finance Minister ArunJaitley while presenting the budget had announced AIIMS for five States including Jammu and Kashmir. He also had announced IIM for J&K which, according to sources, would be set up in Jammu. Sources said for AIIMS, the government had already identified land in Pulwama district of South Kashmir. Soon after the Union Minister's announcement on AIIMS and IIM, the former Chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah while using his twitter handle wrote: 'Bricks & mortar don't make AIIMS & IIMs. In fact quite the opposite, they dilute the brand equity of the original institution.'