|Friday, June 30, 2000,
protests gain momentum
inaugurates Access 2000
J & K to stop trade
Kargil sans power for 2 months
BSF camp attacked
Autonomy: protests gain momentum
JAMMU, June 29 The first phase of multi-dimensional agitation of pre-1953 constitutional status to the state started today with general strike in Udhampur. Normal life was paralysed there as district transport services remained off the roads and shops were closed.
The protesters, demonstrating against the adoption of the motion, seeking grant of greater autonomy, by the state Legislature, damages a couple of vehicles in Udhampur town. The passenger transport services on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained unaffected though there was a marked decrease in the number of buses that left for Srinagar from Jammu this morning.
A bandh was also observed in old city of Jammu on a call given by the Jammu Bar Association. Work in the courts was paralysed as the lawyers struck work in protest against the demand for greater autonomy. The call for Udhampur bandh had been given by the BJP and its youth wing, the Bhartiya Yuva Janata Morcha. The call for Jammu bandh given by the Bar Association, however, evoked hardly any response from the transporters. However, shops in many areas remained closed.
The state unit of the Nationalist Congress Party, led by Thakur Randhir Singh, too supported the call for Jammu bandh given by the Bar Association. The youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party, headed by Karan Singh, held a meeting in Kathua today where the party leaders condemned the resolution on autonomy adopted by the state Legislature. It said the day the Assembly adopted the resolution would be treated as "black day" for the people of the state. Mr Karan Singh urged people to unite and fight the "dictatorial" attitude of the National Conference Government.
Meanwhile, the BJP has made elaborate arrangements for making tomorrows Jammu bandh a success to enable the Centre to perceive the dangers of granting greater autonomy to the state.
The Jammu Joint Students Federation along with Panun Kashmir and Ladakh Buddhist Association has started galvanising peoples support for another Jammu bandh call for Saturday.
The President of the Jammu Joint Students Federation, Mr Rajinder Jamwal, told mediapersons here today that the only way to counter the "nefarious" designs of the NC and other separatist organisations and to secure the interests of the people of Jammu and Ladakh was to trifurcate the state so that Ladakh was converted into a Union Territory and the Jammu being treated as a separate state.
Mr Jamwal accused both the National Conference and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, of having formulated a secret agenda by restoring pre-1953 constitutional status to the state. He said it would appease western countries.
He demanded immediate dismissal of the Farooq led government in case the Centre wanted to absolve itself of any responsibility in encouraging Dr Abdullah to rush through the motion in the Assembly.
Federation leaders urged the MLAs from the Jammu region to seek an apology from the people for supporting the resolution on autonomy in the Assembly. The front president said the legislators from the Jammu region will face social boycott if they did not resign.
The state unit of the BJP is also planning to gherao these MLAs and impose social sanctions against them to that they were treated as social outcasts by the people.
Kargil sans power for 2 months
KARGIL June 29 Bearing the brunt of heavy shelling from across the border since long, this township is now fighting another war, not with the enemy on heights but darkness, which it has been experiencing for over one and a half months on account of breakdown of a mini hydel power generation project.
Absence of power apart, what has been giving a nightmarish time to the 20,000 residents of the township is lack of interest of the powers that be, especially after having been under the gaze of the world constantly for about six months during and after one of the most publicised conflicts between any two countries.
As if this was not enough electricity might not light the homes and shops for another 20-30 odd days since the repair of the 3.7 MW Iqbal mini hydel project, which is the lone source of electricity, was likely to take a minimum of that much time since all of its three turbines went out of order one by one. The time limit can well stretch over a month for the removal of the snag involved huge cost, estimated to be over Rs1.5 crore, a whopping amount for a fund-starved state.
Besides affecting locals, the absence of electricity has cast its shadow on trade, which primarily depends on the inflow of tourists, which has already trickled down. Interestingly, a few hotels and restaurants, which had started doing brisk business as the place had acquired the status of a tourist spot after the conflict, are running almost empty these days with no tourists around. "Hardly anyone comes to the city these days for they know that they would be greeted by darkness," said a hotel owner. He said individual power generating sets of most of the hotels and other establishments had also gone out of order as they had to run day and night for weeks together. In such a situation, people have to obliterate darkness with the help of petromax or LPG lamps.
The breaking down of the the power generation system for such a long time had also evoked protests from local leaders of all parties, who had resorted to an all-party agitation to press for early repair and restoration of electricity to residents. They said nobody from the government or the media bothered to take stock of the situation here. Mr Gautam Kaul, the Director-General of the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP), had a taste of darkness during his recent visit to Kargil. "I had to use a kerosene lamp for doing my official work during my stay in the area," he said while talking to TNS.
Inquiries with the authorities revealed that the situation in villages around Kargil was better as far as power is concerned. In fact, all standby power generating sets had been shifted to villages to save these from heavy shelling during the height of the conflict and they were still working there.
Dr Mohammed Din, Kargil
Deputy Commissioner, when contacted over phone confirmed
that electricity had been eluding the area for over one
and a half months. "The restoration of power and
repair of a part of the project may take another 15-20
days," said Dr Din, who said the priority of the
administration would be to repair at least one of the
turbines to ensure power supply to people at the
earliest. He said engineers, who were summoned from Delhi
for undertaking repair job, had taken the defective parts
of turbines to the capital for replacement.
J & K to stop trade in
SRINAGAR, June 29 Responding to a strong international opinion on the shahtoosh trade, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided to put a stop to the trade.
Talking to mediapersons at the inauguration of the first composite rehabilitation camp and exhibition at Sher-e-Kashmir hospital at Bemina here today, the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah said: "From now onwards, we are going to ask weavers to stop manufacturing shahtoosh. Instead of shahtoosh, we will promote pashmina in a big way. One exhibition has been held in Paris and another exhibition of pashmina shawls will soon be held in the USA. But we are not going to give up. We will continue the shawl trade."
The Chief Minister said persons dealing in shahtoosh face a lot of problems outside the state. He said the state had its own Act providing regulation of trade in shahtoosh, but it was problematic to sell it outside Jammu and Kashmir in view of the ban in the rest of the country. He said even wearing shahtoosh invites action outside the state as per existing laws. He said the sale of shahtoosh conducted earlier would be regularised in accordance with the Act.
Replying to a question,
Dr Abdullah said the government was contemplating an
amendment in the state law in this regard. Asked if
shahtoosh traders would be compensated, he said the
government was considering various proposals to
rehabilitate the shahtoosh traders in the state.
Maneka inaugurates Access 2000
SRINAGAR, June 29 Determined to help themselves, disabled persons turned up in large numbers at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Bemina here today to attend a composite rehabilitation camp and exhibition.
The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mrs Maneka Gandhi, inaugurated the camp organised by her ministry and the Social Welfare Department of the J and K Government.
The four-day camp called Access 2000 provides assessment, fitment repair and adjustment of equipment for the handicapped, corrective surgeries and counselling. It caters to all kinds of disabilities, including hearing impairment, visual handicap, physical disability and mental retardation. Disability certificates will also be given within a stipulated time.
Sources in the Social Welfare Department said that about 2000 disabled persons came to the camp today.
Mr S.D. Singh, Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, said that the turnout on the opening day led to a virtual stampede. He said that the equipment was assembled at the camp and would be delivered before the camp ended. Asked if the equipment would be given free of cost, Mr S.D. Singh said, persons whose monthly income was less than Rs 5000 would get the equipment free, on production of a certificate signed by a gazetted officer. Those who earned between Rs 5000 to Rs 8000 every month have to bear 50 per cent of the cost," he added.
Mr P.N. Kher, General Manager (marketing), Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India, Kanpur said that they plan to give away 500 pieces of equipment, including tricycles and wheel chairs.
Mr A.N. Nanda, demonstrator (prosthetics) from the National Institute of Rehabilitation Research and Training, Orissa, said that they had already started orthopaedic corrective surgeries.
Mrs Maneka Gandhi also laid the foundation stone of a composite regional centre in a building adjacent to the institute. The permanent building is spread over five acre.
Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Gandhi said that Jammu and Kashmir was the first state to have spared land for construction of the composite regional centre. She said that the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, promptly responded to the request.
Mrs Gandhi said that she wanted to set up a permanent service centre that would cater to all kinds of disabilities. She said such a centre was needed as most disabled persons got infected with other diseases after they visit hospitals. She expressed the hope that the centre would be constructed soon.
Dr Farooq Abdullah said that his government would present a design of the centre to Mrs Gandhis for her approval. He hoped that the regional centre would be immensely beneficial for the needy.
BSF camp attacked
SRINAGAR, June 29 (PTI) Militants attacked a BSF camp at Hafizbagh, near here, wounding four jawans while elsewhere in Jammu and Kashmir five militants and a woman were among eight people killed in separate incidents since last evening.
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