Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Option of crossing LoC open: Swami
Jammu, November 18
The Central Government is in no mood to accept two demands of the National Conference — one, pertaining to the restoration of greater autonomy and the two, regarding the controversial Resettlement Bill providing proprietary rights on immovable assets of those who had migrated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 1947. 

J&K poll likely between May, June
Jammu, November 18
The Assembly poll, due in October next year, is likely to be held anytime between May and June, 2002, in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Defence Minister Geroge Fernandes Defence Minister Geroge Fernandes having a word with jawans posted at Gulab outpost during his visit to Siachen on Sunday. — PTI

Farooq must quit before poll: PDP
Jammu, November 18
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, which wants to come to power in Jammu and Kashmir, has demanded that the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, should quit three months before the elections in order to ensure they are free and fair.

New economic package for J&K sought
Jammu, November 18

The Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Professor Chaman Lal Gupta, has said he will urge the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, to grant a North-East type of economic package to Jammu and Kashmir.


YOUR TOWN
Jammu




EARLIER STORIES
 
A farmer harvests saffron, the costliest spice grown in Kashmir, at Pampore near Srinagar at the fag-end of the season. The lack of rain during last few years has sharply diminished the saffron production. — Photo Amin War A farmer harvests saffron

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Option of crossing LoC open: Swami
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 18
The Central Government is in no mood to accept two demands of the National Conference — one, pertaining to the restoration of greater autonomy and the two, regarding the controversial Resettlement Bill providing proprietary rights on immovable assets of those who had migrated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1947. The Bill was sent to the Supreme Court for its opinion put the court has returned it without accepting its provisions.

This was indicated by the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, at press conference here today. Mr Swami said there was no question of going back to the pre-1953 Constitutional status. “We are ready to discuss the devolution of more political and financial powers under the Sarkaria Commission report with the state government.

In reply to a question he said it was not possible to allow the Resettlement Bill to become a law because “We cannot allow those in Pakistan and PoK to return to the state and have their land and houses and other rights. We will advise the state government to drop this Bill.”

Meanwhile, Constitutional experts have said that in case the state government adopted the Bill, Parliament will have the power to repeal the Act by resorting to Article 117(2) of the Constitution.

Mr Swami said Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s suggestion that India should cross the LOC and destroy the arms training camps had not been rejected. “The option of crossing the LOC is still open,” he added.

The minister was of the opinion that the fall of the Taliban in Kabul would have an impact on militancy in Kashmir. He said so far the level of militant-related violence has not decreased but in the near future there was going to be a material change as the US government had vowed to fight terrorism wherever it was, whether in Kabul or Kashmir.

In reply to another question he said, “We do not depend on any third country for ending the menace of militancy in the state”. “We have launched operations against the terrorists and we hope the USA will persuade Islamabad to stop aiding militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

PTI adds: Mr Swami expressed apprehension that agencies across the border may push the Taliban inside Indian territory in view of the capture of Kabul and other areas by the Northern Alliance.

Thousands of Taliban fighters may become jobless with the capture of Kabul and other areas by the Northern Alliance and could pose a problem for Pakistan, which gave rise to apprehensions that they may be pushed into Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have to be on our guard regarding cross-border terrorism and the country is taking all steps to face any infiltration from across the border,” he added.

He expressed the hope that peace would return to Afghanistan soon and that the new government would be more acceptable to the people of that country.

“We expect the new government in Afghanistan brings stability to it,” he added.

About the resumption of talks with Islamabad, Mr Swami said: “We have been making efforts to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including Jammu and Kashmir, through a dialogue. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had now realised this and said Kashmir was one of the issues to be discussed with India.

Mr Swami said it was only after the September 11 terror strikes in the USA that international coalition began to fight terrorism

He said India had the strength to fight and win any proxy war like the way it had won three open wars with Pakistan.

The line between internal and external security had been eliminated as all states in the country had become border states due to “fidayeen (suicide) attacks and terrorist activities.”
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J&K poll likely between May, June
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 18
The Assembly poll, due in October next year, is likely to be held anytime between May and June, 2002, in Jammu and Kashmir. The decks are being cleared for the early poll in a bid to install a truly representative government which can silence those who have launched a campaign against the “rigged elections in the past.”

Two developments in the recent weeks point towards the government plan to hold the election to the 87-member Assembly five months earlier than the schedule. The National Conference leadership has directed party MLAs, senior party workers and ministers to spend more time in the Kashmir valley during the winter months. The MLAs and party workers had to descend on Jammu soon after the durbar move, but this time the NC MLAs have been asked to stay in Kashmir and spend maximum time in their constituencies for mustering voters’ support. Some of the valley-based ministers have been told to remain in Kashmir for longer time than in Jammu so that they can look after the problems of the people during the dreary winter months as part of the public mobilising device.

Secondly, the Election Commission has started summary revision of the electoral rolls in the entire state. Side by side, Central Government agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), have begun what is called a pre-poll survey to determine the prospects of different political parties and politicians who are going to contest the poll.

Official sources said senior functionaries of the IB had carried out a preliminary survey in the Kashmir valley and reached Jammu on a similar mission.

These sources said the issue of holding early Assembly poll had been discussed between the state and the Central Government authorities and the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, is said to have given his consent. The Chief Minister is aware of the affairs in two major political parties, the BJP and the Congress, and as such the dissensions within these organisations could prove helpful to the ruling National Conference.

The BJP-led NDA government has no major stakes in the Kashmir poll because neither the BJP nor its allies can win absolute majority in the 87-member House to enable them to form the government.

The NDA government is more keen in ensuring a free and fair poll that could give a lie to the campaign launched by separatists. It is also eager to encourage some separatist leaders to contest the poll and once they do it, it could give a representative character to the next Assembly elections. Since 1989 all Assembly and Lok Sabha elections had been boycotted by the separatists on the plea that the elections were not a substitute to a plebiscite and out of the fear that the poll will be rigged forcing them to lose their face.

In this connection, several Central Government agencies had been in touch with several Hurriyat Conference leaders, militant outfits and other separatist groups for motivating them to participate in the election. So far there has been no response from them. A couple of separatists, including Mr Shabir Ahmed Shah, chief of the Democratic Freedom Party, had announced that they would take part in the election provided they were held under the UN supervision. Later, Mr Shah modified his statement declaring that he would participate in the poll if it was held under the supervision of some Indian intellectuals.

Indications are that some of the separatist leaders may be willing to participate in the election to dislodge the NC government, but if the level of militancy related-violence showed no major decline within the next three to five months, they would not risk their lives and reputation by contesting the poll.

One minister, who did not wish to be identified, said no final decision had been taken on the early poll.The matter was under discussion and the National Conference had neither and urgency nor any need to go in for an early election in the state. “If the poll is held as per the schedule in October, we will be able to fulfil many other commitments,” he said, adding that the National Conference could easily take the credit of holding the panchayat elections after a gap of 23 years, restoring democratic structure, reducing the size of unemployment and carrying out various development works without compromising on its demand for the restoration of greater autonomy and grant of regional economy.
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Farooq must quit before poll: PDP
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 18
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), which wants to come to power in Jammu and Kashmir, has demanded that the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, should quit three months before the elections in order to ensure they are free and fair.

The PDP chief, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told news persons here today that under the Farooq regime “fair and free elections were unimaginable, alleging that the elections held under the NC regime in 1983 and 1987 were rigged.

He said if Dr Abdullah claimed that he was a nationalist he should quit and allow the election process to be completed under the Governor’s rule. He said: The next Assembly elections is going to be crucial in the sense that people’s faith in the election process will be established only if it is going to be free and fair”.

He also called upon all political parties to give representation to the youth to contest the elections. “If the youth continued to be neglected it will be a mockery of democracy,” he said.

Referring to the peace proposal mooted by APHC chairman Abdul Gani Bhat, he said when the Centre had declared a unilateral ceasefire in November last year, the APHC had opposed it. “Mr Bhat’s peace proposal at this juncture is meaningless,” he added.

The PDP chief wanted the Central Government to re-examine the provisions of POTO.

He said there was need for resuming the Indo-Pak dialogue because the Kashmir issue and allied problems could be resolved through talks only. He also called for the revision of the electoral rolls so that all eligible voters were registered.

The Mufti also expressed concern over the posting of junior and inexperienced officers on key posts and those known for honesty and integrity having been sidelined. 
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New economic package for J&K sought

Jammu, November 18
The Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Professor Chaman Lal Gupta, has said he will urge the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, to grant a North-East type of economic package to Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at a function organised by the Bari Brahmana Industries Association here yesterday, Professor Gupta said the Central Government was concerned about the changing scenario of the state and steps were being taken to implement the said package for the overall development of industries in the state.

The minister asked the industrialists to air their demands and grievances to all ministers concerned and bureaucrats in New Delhi.

Professor Gupta also urged the association to promote an encouraging atmosphere to enable other entrepreneurs to set up their industries in the state.

He said apart from sanctioning three food processing parks, his ministry was ready to provide all possible assistance to any private entrepreneur interested to set up such a park here.

Referring to the erratic power condition in the state, he asked the association to finalise a plan on the requirement of power by the industries in Jammu so that a separate power station could be built exclusively for the industries for which the Centre would provide the required financial assistance.

Professor Gupta lamented that many industrial units had already closed down and said both the state and Central governments should initiate steps to enable the remaining ones to survive. UNI
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Fernandes opens medical centre at Siachen

Jammu, November 18
Defence Minister George Fernandes today inaugurated a medical aid centre for the troops at Siachen. The centre has modern facilities like central heating, a large operation theatre, wards for housing civilians and an advanced medical ward.

According to an Army release here, the construction was completed in a record time of four months. In addition to the troops, it will benefit 2500 civilians in the vicinity. UNI
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