Monday, November 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Return of Pandits top priority: Mufti
Tribune News Service

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed during his first meeting with Cabinet Ministers at the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar on Sunday. — Tribune photo Amin War

Srinagar, November 3
The return of Kashmiri Pandits will be the “top priority” of Jammu and Kashmir Government.

Replying to questions after the cabinet meeting in civil secretariat here this morning, the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said that his government would have a specific agenda for the return of Kashmiri Pandits, who have been a part and parcel of the valley. He said that Kashmir was incomplete without the Pandits.

The Mufti said that incentives would be announced for those Pandits willing to return to Kashmir. It has to be a gradual process and there was need to create an atmosphere for the return of over two lakh Pandits who migrated with the eruption of militancy in 1989-90. The Mufti said measures would be taken to facilitate the return of the Pandits in a phased manner.

Mr Sayeed said there was need to give a healing touch to the people who had suffered a lot during the past 13 years of militancy. He said improvement in the situation was a gradual process that would be made possible through a responsive multi-party coalition government in the state.

The Chief Minister said the cases registered under POTA would be reviewed. Referring to the role of the Special Task Force (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir police, Mr Sayeed said the police would have to make a change in its approach while dealing with militancy in the state.

He made it clear that dialogue was the only way to restore peace in the region and asserted that his government would help in an unconditional dialogue between the Centre and militants in the state. He pointed out that dialogue was necessary to resolve all issues, adding that the Centre would also hold talks with elected representatives of the state. Mr Sayeed has sought the Centre’s support to his government and urged it to “walk an extra mile to consolidate the gains made by the successful completion of the recent elections” in the state.

“We do earnestly hope that the assurances made by the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to extend full support to our government shall be honoured in letter and spirit in the national interest,” Mufti Sayeed stated. Mufti Sayeed said he had conveyed to the Prime Minister recently in New Delhi that fairest possible elections were held and that now there was a need to remove the alienation among the people of the state.

Mufti Sayeed, accompanied by his senior Cabinet colleagues Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma and Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, announced that the coalition government today adopted the common minimum programme “as a road map and guiding principle for the governance in the state”. He said his government’s endeavour would be to make the coalition government more broad-based by co-opting the other groups of MLAs, who had extended their unconditional support and “whose cooperation and services could be utilised in the larger interests of the state by providing a stable and truly representative government”.

Replying to questions the Chief Minister made it clear that the common minimum programme was not only meant for Kashmir but equally for all three regions of the state.

Referring to the verdict Mufti Sayeed said it was of a critical and momentous nature. He said, “It was against broken promises, betrayed hopes, misgovernance and historically practised politics of hypocrisy and double talk. It was also a verdict against corruption, nepotism, oppression and injustice,” he said. An official announcement said all other departments would remain with the Chief Minister.



Mufti allots 13 portfolios
Tribune News Service and PTI

Srinagar, November 3
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed today allotted portfolios to his Cabinet colleagues giving Industries, Commerce and Transport to Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma and Finance, Planning and Transport to his deputy in the PDP Muzaffar Hussain Beigh.

Mr Beigh, a leading Supreme Court lawyer, has also been given the additional charge of Law and Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed, vice-president of the state Congress, has been allotted Rural Development.

Mr Ghulam Hassan Mir has been given Housing and Urban Development and the additional charge of Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation.

Mr Mula Ram has been allotted Social Welfare while Mr Harsh Dev Singh has been given School Education.

Ministers of State Nawang Rigzin and Haji Nissar Ali get Works and Rural Development, respectively. An official announcement said all other departments would remain with the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, a joint session of the two Houses of state legislature will be held with the Governor’s address in Jammu on November 21. This would follow the swearing in of the newly elected members of Legislative Assembly on November 18.

These decisions were taken at the first Cabinet meeting, presided over by the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, here this morning.

The State Government offices, including that of the Chief Minister, other ministers, and commissioner secretaries, most of these in the civil secretariat were closed down here on October 28, after six months of summer. These are being re-opened for the next six months in Jammu, winter capital of the state, on November 5.

The Mufti announced that his government would make adequate arrangements for the convenience and governance of the people of Kashmir and Ladakh regions during the winter months.


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