SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

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    E D I T I O N

Amarnath yatra camps told to augment healthcare facilities
Srinagar, July 9
The Governor N N Vohra has directed all authorities concerned to take immediate steps to address significant health-related issues while expressing serious concern over the deaths of pilgrims during the ongoing Amarnath yatra.

A meeting on the Amarnath yatra being chaired by Governor NN Vohra in Srinagar on Monday. A meeting on the Amarnath yatra being chaired by Governor NN Vohra in Srinagar on Monday. A Tribune photograph

Recommendations of Justice Sagheer panel
Big blow to ruling coalition
Jammu, July 9
Serious differences have cropped up in the Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) constituted by the state government to give its opinion on the recommendations of Justice Sagheer Ahmed Working Group as two of the four Congress Ministers - who are members of the CSC - have refused to sign the final report.

Advani reminds Omar: J&K part of India
New Delhi, July 9
BJP leader LK Advani today recalled Parliament’s unanimous resolution of February 22, 1994, to remind Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the state was an integral part of India. He also slammed the government-appointed interlocutors for terming Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PAK) in their recent report on Kashmir.




YOUR TOWN
Jammu
Srinagar


EARLIER STORIES


Breakaway employee groups reject govt-JCC agreement
Srinagar, July 9
The breakaway employees’ factions have distanced themselves from the agreement made between the government and the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), saying they would announce a separate plan of action for the meeting of their demands.

Pilgrim rush leads to traffic snarls on national highway
Jammu, July 9
A long queue of vehicles stuck in a jam near Manigram village of Ganderbal district. With the annual Amarnath yatra now in full swing with pilgrims from different parts of the country reaching the Kashmir Valley in large numbers to pay obeisance at the holy cave of Lord Shiva, there is a lot of traffic on the 294-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Though a number of traffic personnel have been deputed by the authorities to clear the traffic snarls on the highway, a traffic jam could be seen at Chenani-Udhampur Road where a number of vehicles were stranded.

A long queue of vehicles stuck in a jam near Manigram village of Ganderbal district. Tribune photo: Anand Sharma

Reverification of BPL lists yet to be completed
Jammu, July 9
As the process to reverify the existing Below Poverty Line (BPL) lists is still going on, a number of deserving poor families are deprived of various poverty alleviation schemes specially formulated for their socio-economic growth by the Central and the state government.

A salute to Saviour of Nowshera
Jammu, July 9
The territory of Jhangar in Nowshera would not have been a part of India if Brig Mohd Usman had not wrested it back. The Pakistani soldiers, aided by raiders from across the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), had captured it in their treacherous attack in1947-48. Jhangar in Nowshera, Poonch, later carved out into Rajouri, was of critical significance and Indians accorded it high priority. His loss could have denied Indians a southern approach to relieve Poonch at a future stage. Though achievements of late Brig Usman are not well known to the citizens of the nation, he is the one who despite being a Muslim soldier opted to stay in India after the Partition in 1947.

Tak, Laila’s young stepfather, always yearned to be rich and famous
Laila Khan Jammu, July 9
Thirtyfive-year-old Parvez Iqbal Tak, a small-time timber contractor-turned-politician from a small town of Kishtwar, currently in the custody of the Mumbai ATS as the prime accused in the murder of Pakistan-born Bollywood starlet Laila Khan, always yearned to be filthy rich and famous. “An eighth class dropout, he is very handsome and smart but at the same time a fraudster against whom two FIRs of cheating were registered in Kishtwar police station and one at Hoshiarpur in neighbouring Punjab,” the DIG, Doda-Ramban-Kishtwar range, Garib Dass, told The Tribune.

Four more held in Laila case
Mumbai, July 9
The Mumbai police has detained four more persons in connection with the Laila Khan case, sources here said. All of them were employed by the Khan's family.

Convention on cross-LoC trade begins today
Srinagar, July 9
For the first-time ever, traders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) would meet here tomorrow at a convention that has been organised with an aim to boost the cross-LoC trade and identify the hurdles therein. The three-day-long conference titled “Cross-LoC Trade, Regional Development: Opportunities and Challenges” is being organised by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), New Delhi, and would be attended by 60 participants, representing various trade and business organisations across the LoC.


Beating the heat:
A boy is all set to dive into the Dal Lake in Srinagar on Monday. Photo: Amin War

Traders call on Governor
Srinagar: A group of participants attending the cross-LoC trade conference, which will begin tomorrow, called on Governor NN Vohra at the Raj Bhawan here today.

Residential areas turning into commercial hubs
Srinagar, July 9
The unprecedented growth of business ventures in many residential localities of Srinagar city is becoming a cause of concern among the residents. Residents of the city complained that the civic body - Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) - was turning a blind eye towards the issue, which was threatening the social fabric of society.

Omar woos IT companies
Srinagar, July 9
Admitting that it was not possible to provide a government job to every youth of the state, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today urged the information technology (IT) companies of the country to invest in the state.

NC leader hits out at Jaitley
Jammu, July 9
Additional general secretary of ruling National Conference (NC) Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal said yesterday that NC was committed to mitigate the problems of people. He was addressing public meetings in Samba and Trewa area of Bishnah.

Hostel of forest training school inaugurated
Srinagar, July 9
Minister for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf Ahmed today inaugurated a newly constructed hostel building of the Kashmir Forest Training School (KFTS), Chittarnar, in Bandipore district of Kashmir valley.

 








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Amarnath yatra camps told to augment healthcare facilities
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 9
The Governor N N Vohra has directed all authorities concerned to take immediate steps to address significant health-related issues while expressing serious concern over the deaths of pilgrims during the ongoing Amarnath yatra.

Reasons for the increasing number of yatris losing their lives were discussed at length in a meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Governor N N Vohra, who is also Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). The meeting was also attended by Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of the SASB Navin K Choudhary, Health Secretary M K Dwivedi, Director, Health Services, Kashmir, Salim-ur-Rehman, and Additional CEO, SASB, PP Singh.

The Governor directed the CEO to issue immediate instructions to all yatra camps to further augment healthcare facilities.

A detailed analysis of the casualties was presented in the meeting. It was noted that persons of different age groups had died due to cardiac arrest. The meeting was told that more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders had been made available on the two routes to the shrine by the state Health Department. This was in addition to the oxygen cylinders available in the health camps established by the Army, paramilitary forces and NGOs.

The Governor asked the Health Secretary to take immediate steps to have oxymeters at various locations to check the oxygen levels of the yatris reporting at the health camps, and also ensure recharging of the used oxygen cylinders on a daily basis.

The Governor asked for an increase in the deployment of specialist doctors at the base camps and at critical places like Brarimarg, Sangam, Pissu-Top, Zojibal, Nagakoti to attend to the seriously-ill patients. In this regard, he asked the CEO to immediately contact the Army and seek their help in urgently setting up a medical check-up camp in the Sangam area.

He also asked the CEO and the Director, Health Department, to further improve the arrangements for shifting of critical patients to the base camps and, thereafter, to the identified hospitals in Srinagar for prompt and appropriate treatment.

The Governor stressed urgent steps for a renewed campaign to publicise the do’s and don’ts for pilgrims by the Shrine Board. He asked the CEO to direct all camp directors to use the public address system to urge yatris to immediately contact the nearest health camp and take the necessary help in case they felt any kind of uneasiness or illness.

Meanwhile, a record number of 35,000 pilgrims (highest so far this year) had darshan of the Shivalingam today. With this the total number of pilgrims who have had darshan during the first 15 days rose to 3.35 lakh.

Casualty Check

z A detailed analysis of the Amarnath yatra casualties was presented at the meeting held on Monday under the chairmanship of Governor N N Vohra. It was noted that persons of different age groups had died due to cardiac arrest.

z The Governor asked for an increase in the deployment of specialist doctors at the base camps and at critical places like Brarimarg, Sangam, Pissu-Top, Zojibal, Nagakoti to attend to the seriously-ill patients.

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Recommendations of Justice Sagheer panel
Big blow to ruling coalition
Two Cong ministers refuse to sign final report
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 9
Serious differences have cropped up in the Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) constituted by the state government to give its opinion on the recommendations of Justice Sagheer Ahmed Working Group as two of the four Congress Ministers - who are members of the CSC - have refused to sign the final report. The decision of the two Congress ministers not to sign the report has been considered as a big blow to the unity of the coalition because all efforts of the government to evolve consensus on these commendations have proved futile.

The CSC, which was constituted in October 2010, is headed by Minister for Finance Abdul Rahim Rathar, while other members of the CSC are Minister for Rural Development Ali Mohammad Sagar, Minister for Industries SS Salathia, Minister for CAPD Qamar Ali Akhoon (all National Conference), Minister for PHE Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Minister for Tourism Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation Raman Bhalla and Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma. The CSC was constituted to study constitutional, legal and political ramifications of the recommendations of the Working Group which was headed by Justice Sagheer Ahmed to discuss the Centre-state relations.

Sources said the two Congress ministers, namely Nawang Rigzin Jora and Sham Lal, have refused to sign the final report as they have raised certain objections over some recommendations of the Working Group.

When contacted, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Sagar told The Tribune that all the eight members of the CSC have signed the report. “The report will be sent to the Cabinet for taking a final decision”, Sagar said. One of the Congress ministers, on the other hand, confirmed that he had refused to sign the report.

As Justice Sagheer had recommended “greater autonomy” for Jammu and Kashmir, the report was quite favourable for the NC but the Congress, keeping in view its strong base in the Jammu region, has been opposing greater autonomy.

The Justice Sagheer Ahmed-led Working Group was among the five groups constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 to address the dimensions of Centre-state relations in context of Jammu and Kashmir. The report was presented to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on December 23, 2009 and the CSC was constituted in October 2010 because two coalition partners National Conference and Congress had differences on the recommendations of Working Group.

Since October 2010, the term of the CSC has been extended five times so as to discuss the recommendations thoroughly and to evolve consensus among two coalition partners.

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Advani reminds Omar: J&K part of India
Slams interlocutors for terming PoK as Pak-Administered Kashmir
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 9
BJP leader LK Advani today recalled Parliament’s unanimous resolution of February 22, 1994, to remind Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the state was an integral part of India. He also slammed the government-appointed interlocutors for terming Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PAK) in their recent report on Kashmir.

“Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says the BJP should understand that Jammu and Kashmir has acceded to India and not merged with India. I don’t understand this argument. J&K is an integral part of India and this fact has been unanimously affirmed by Parliament which also said that area of the state aggressed by Pakistan is also part of India and needs to be vacated,” Advani said today on a function marked to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.

The acting chairman of the National Democratic Alliance, Advani, was particularly aggressive in targeting the three interlocutors appointed by the PM to suggest a solution to the Valley’s problem after it saw the deaths of more than 100 youth in the summer of 2010.

“The interlocutors exhibited disregard for the Parliament’s resolution which categorically described territories under Pakistan control as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The resolution called for vacation of these territories, whereas the interlocutors have called these areas as Pakistan-Administered Kashmir,” he said.

Recalling the sacrifice of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, whose June 23, 1953, death in a Kashmir hospital remained a mystery, Advani warned the Congress-led UPA Government of another 1953-like agitation for Kashmir if its integration process with India was diluted or reversed.

He also regretted that no inquiry was ordered into the Mookherjee’s death despite demands to that effect. Mookherjee had entered Kashmir on May 11, 1953, to oppose the permit system in existence at that time and the practice of a “Sadar-e-Riyasat (separate President for the state). Both these practices ended after Mookherjee’s death.

The BJP today reiterated its demand for abrogation of Article 370 and special status for J&K and warned of an agitation if the state’s integration with India was reversed by any manner.

“We pledge today that we will not allow the gains of Kashmir’s integration with India to be squandered by the government. This integration is the legacy of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee and his sacrifices won’t go waste. If this integration is reversed, there will be a mass agitation,” threatened Advani.

The BJP parliamentary party leader also demanded voting rights in the J&K Assembly elections for the people from Sialkot who had settled in Jammu after the Partition.

“They can’t even send their wards to technical colleges under state control. That should stop,” Advani said.

‘Integration was courtesy Patel’

Advani hailed the efforts of India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and said the integration of princely states with India would not have been possible had it not been for the master political craftsmanship of Patel. “Had Sardar Patel not been there, there would have been no integration,” he said.

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Breakaway employee groups reject govt-JCC agreement
M Aamir Khan/TNS

Srinagar, July 9
The breakaway employees’ factions have distanced themselves from the agreement made between the government and the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), saying they would announce a separate plan of action for the meeting of their demands.

“We have called for a state-level convention in Srinagar on July 16 where we will chalk out our own strategy,” State Government Employees Joint Action Committee (SEJAC) leader Ishtiaq Beigh told The Tribune today.

The SEJAC had recently formed a new front with the Employees Joint Action Committee-R (EJAC-R) led by Ram Kumar after accusing the JCC of issuing “self-styled” protest programmes.

The JCC leaders had called off their protest programme after entering into an agreement with the government yesterday as they were assured that a decision on their demands would be announced by September 30.

However, SEJAC spokesman Ajaz Khan called the agreement a “joke” saying a similar agreement had been made last year as well. “No new decision has been taken… the meeting arranged by the leaders was nothing but to weaken the employees’ movement and confuse them,” he added.

Khan was referring to the government-JCC agreement last year in September according to which a decision regarding the employees’ demands was to be announced by March 31, 2012. However, the employees had decided to resume the protest when the government “failed” to honour the agreement made with them.

The EJAC-R president had recently said their protest programme would be “decisive” while claiming it would be 100 per cent successful in Jammu and get a “huge response” from the employees in the Valley.

The employees’ demands include release of arrears recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, enhancement of retirement age from 58 to 60 years, removal of pay anomalies and regularisation of daily wagers and casual workers working in various departments.

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Pilgrim rush leads to traffic snarls on national highway
Vikas Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 9
With the annual Amarnath yatra now in full swing with pilgrims from different parts of the country reaching the Kashmir Valley in large numbers to pay obeisance at the holy cave of Lord Shiva, there is a lot of traffic on the 294-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

Due to pilgrim rush, it now takes 12 to 13 hours to travel the distance from Jammu to Srinagar, which otherwise could be covered in 8 hours.

Though a number of traffic personnel have been deputed by the authorities to clear the traffic snarls on the highway, a traffic jam could be seen at Chenani-Udhampur Road where a number of vehicles were stranded. “Right from Yatri Niwas in Jammu, we are getting stuck in traffic jams at various places”, said Siddharth Goyal, a pilgrim from Rohtak. “The authorities have deputed traffic personnel to clear the traffic congestion, but a lot more can be done to improve the overall traffic scenario on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, especially during the yatra period,” he added.

“When we left from Jammu at 4 am, we were hoping that by 1 pm we would reach the Baltal Base Camp. But looking at the rush, it seems will take another 4 to 5 hours to reach our destination,” said another pilgrim, Sagrika Chouhan from Noida. “The traffic personnel are doing their level best to clear the traffic jams but the inflow of vehicles is so much that it is a challenging task for them to manage the traffic,” she maintained.

Similar traffic jams were seen at Patnitop, Batote, Peede and Ramban, where the pilgrims were seen anxiously waiting for clearance of traffic snarls.

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Reverification of BPL lists yet to be completed
Deserving people not getting benefits of poverty alleviation schemes
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 9
As the process to reverify the existing Below Poverty Line (BPL) lists is still going on, a number of deserving poor families are deprived of various poverty alleviation schemes specially formulated for their socio-economic growth by the Central and the state government.

While admitting that a large number of influential persons had managed to get their names included in the BPL lists, the state government had started the reverification process three years ago to remove the discrepancies and include deserving families. Due to lack of coordination among different departments, the process is still going on despite the fact that the government had fixed a time frame for the same.

In the last budget session, the government had announced on the floor of the Legislative Council that socio-economic Census would be completed by the end of March 2012 and fresh BPL lists would be formed on the basis of that Census. Despite assurances by the government, nothing has been done.

Due to failure of the government to include deserving people in the BPL lists, many poor families have been deprived of the benefits of many schemes. Rajinder Kumar, a Dalit landless farmer of Chowani village in Samba district, regretted that it was due to the existing bogus BPL lists that he and a number of other deserving people were not getting benefits of various poverty alleviation schemes. Kumar had applied for benefit under the Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) but the authorities refused to give him any benefit because his name was not there in the existing BPL lists. Kumar is not an isolated case, but there are number of such cases in the whole state.

Not only the authorities have failed to complete the process of reverification in time, the government is presenting contradictory figures on BPL families. According to the latest Economic Survey Report tabled by the government on the floor of the House, there are 4.17 lakh BPL families in the state (3.72 lakh in the rural areas and 0.45 lakh families in the urban areas).

According to another government document tabled on the floor of the House, during the last budget session, total number of BPL families in the state were 7.36 lakh. In Jammu province, the highest number of BPL families is 48,493 in Jammu district followed by 39,320 in border district of Poonch. In Kashmir province, Kupwara district has the highest number of 71,501 BPL families, followed by 60,881 in Baramulla district.

Sources in the administration said due to contradictory figures in the BPL lists, benefits of poverty alleviation schemes were not reaching the deserving people. During the past three years, members of the Opposition as well as ruling parties have been raising this issue in the Assembly to delete influential people from the BPL lists and include the deserving lot. But, except promises nothing has been done on the government’s part in this regard.

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A salute to Saviour of Nowshera
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 9
The territory of Jhangar in Nowshera would not have been a part of India if Brig Mohd Usman had not wrested it back. The Pakistani soldiers, aided by raiders from across the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), had captured it in their treacherous attack in1947-48.

Jhangar in Nowshera, Poonch, later carved out into Rajouri, was of critical significance and Indians accorded it high priority. His loss could have denied Indians a southern approach to relieve Poonch at a future stage.

Though achievements of late Brig Usman are not well known to the citizens of the nation, he is the one who despite being a Muslim soldier opted to stay in India after the Partition in 1947. Notwithstanding the intense pressure from the Pakistani leadership, including the stalwarts like Liyakat Ali Khan and Mohd Ali Jinnah, and the offer of out-of-turn promotion to be made the Chief of the Army of the new Pakistani nation, he laid the foundation of secular architecture of the Indian Army.

Born on July 15, 1912, and martyred in July 1948, he was just 36 when he became the Brigade Commander of the elite 50 (I) Parachute Brigade. Despite all odds and being heavily outnumbered by the enemy, Brig Mohd Usman recaptured the Jhangar area in 1948 and received the title of ‘Saviour of Nowshera’, ‘Nowshera Ka Sher’ and ‘Hero of Jhangar’.

Born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Mohd Usman got commissioned into the Baluch Regiment at the age of 23, and serving in a Baluch Regiment Battalion with predominant Pakistani orientation for almost 12 years, he preferred to stay in India after the Partition.

When the Baluch Regiment was allotted to Pakistan, Brig Usman was transferred to the Dogra Regiment. Brig Usman, Commander of 77 Para Brigade was side-stepped to command 50 Para Brigade, deployed at Jhangar in December 1947, where he vowed to recapture Jhangar - a feat that he accomplished three months later.

But it was Jhangar that cost Brig Usman’s life. On July 3, 1943, Brig Usman was seriously injured due to unprovoked heavy artillery shelling of the enemy at a village of Jhangar and succumbed to his injuries. In a moving ceremony, Brig M Usman, an icon of the Indian Army’s bravery and courage, was given a state funeral in Delhi, which was attended by the Prime Minister and the Viceroy and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.

Even after 64 years of his sacrifice, he is still an inspiration for jawans as well as civilians here. The Army is holding his centenary celebrations from July 3 to 15 to remember the hero because of which Jhangar is a part of India.

Hero of Jhangar

Born on July 15, 1912, and martyred in July 1948, he was just 36 when he became the Brigade Commander of the elite 50 (I) Parachute Brigade. Despite odds and being heavily outnumbered by the enemy, Brig Mohd Usman recaptured the Jhangar area in 1948 and received the title of ‘Saviour of Nowshera’, ‘Nowshera Ka Sher’ and ‘Hero of Jhangar’. The Army is holding his centenary celebrations from July 3 to 15 to remember the hero because of which Jhangar is a part of India.

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Tak, Laila’s young stepfather, always yearned to be rich and famous
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Jammu, July 9
Thirtyfive-year-old Parvez Iqbal Tak, a small-time timber contractor-turned-politician from a small town of Kishtwar, currently in the custody of the Mumbai ATS as the prime accused in the murder of Pakistan-born Bollywood starlet Laila Khan, always yearned to be filthy rich and famous.

“An eighth class dropout, he is very handsome and smart but at the same time a fraudster against whom two FIRs of cheating were registered in Kishtwar police station and one at Hoshiarpur in neighbouring Punjab,” the DIG, Doda-Ramban-Kishtwar range, Garib Dass, told The Tribune.

Before marrying Laila’s 50-year old mother Saleena Patel in the Ratnagiri area of Mumbai, he had married a local woman Shehnaz Akhtar from Kishtwar from whom he had three daughters, said the DIG.

“In 2008, Tak, who belongs to Bonjwa village near Kishtwar town, had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Inderwal constituency on a ticket from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party against Congress candidate GM Saroori and later disappeared mysteriously from Kishtwar,” said the DIG.

With the passage of time, he resurfaced in Mumbai where he befriended Laila Khan’s high-profile family and developed proximity with Laila’s mother Saleena Patel before marrying her, added Dass.

During his interrogation by the Kishtwar police, Tak had initially given contradictory statements about the whereabouts of the starlet and her family. He eventually made a startling revelation that the family was killed in Igatpuri, some 126 km from Mumbai.

A local from Kishtwar, who insisted anonymity, said that before landing in Mumbai, Tak had cheated several people in Kishtwar town.

Since he claimed himself to be a confidant of Sharad Pawar, Tak befooled naïve and gullible people promising them government jobs, he said.

Tak had taken Rs 3 lakh from a person called Mohammed Salim Waza in Kishtwar promising him a job in the NHPC Limited. Waza had lodged a complaint over the issue with the Kishtwar police.

Tak had borrowed over Rs 10 lakh from various people in Kishtwar before disappearing mysteriously, said the local.

Besides Shehnaz Akhtar, he had also married a doctor from the Kashmir valley and another woman in Hoshiarpur. Tak’s marriage with Laila’s mother Saleena was his fourth marriage, he claimed.

On May 29, the Kishtwar police had recovered Laila’s luxury vehicle — Mitsubishi Outlander from a garage in Kishtwar town which had been rented out to Tak.

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Four more held in Laila case

Mumbai, July 9
The Mumbai police has detained four more persons in connection with the Laila Khan case, sources here said. All of them were employed by the Khan's family.

The police said two of those held were employed as drivers by the Khans while the other two were employed at their farmhouse in Igatpuri on the outskirts of Mumbai. The names of two of them have been given as Jolly and Mehmood. All of them were in the family's employ when the actress along with her mother and siblings went missing in early 2011, the police said.

Meanwhile Laila's stepfather Parvez Tak was remanded in police custody till July 19. — TNS

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Convention on cross-LoC trade begins today
Traders from both sides of the LoC to participate in three-day-long meet
M Aamir Khan
Tribune News Service


Governor NN Vohra interacts with a delegation of traders in Srinagar on Monday. A Tribune photograph

Srinagar, July 9
For the first-time ever, traders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) would meet here tomorrow at a convention that has been organised with an aim to boost the cross-LoC trade and identify the hurdles therein.

The three-day-long conference titled “Cross-LoC Trade, Regional Development: Opportunities and Challenges” is being organised by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), New Delhi, and would be attended by 60 participants, representing various trade and business organisations across the LoC.

“Since the opening of the LoC trade, this is the first time that traders from both sides of the LoC would be meeting in Jammu and Kashmir. The conference will look at general as well as specific issues related to the cross-LoC trade and will come up with recommendations that will be submitted to the governments of both the countries. It will explore the future possibilities, opportunities and challenges of the trade by bringing together stakeholders from both sides of the LoC,” a CDR spokesman said.

President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Abdul Hamid Punjabi, whose group would be attending the convention, said it would provide an opportunity for the traders from across the LoC to sit at one place, which would augur well for the development of the trade.

“There are many bottlenecks that have to be removed. Our agenda would be to raise issues like banking and proper communication facilities for traders and find a solution,” Punjabi told The Tribune.

The cross-LoC trade was started with much fanfare in October 2008 around three years after the start of the LoC bus service from here to Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in April 2005. The trade and bus service were started as part of confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan.

However, main demands of the traders, who are still doing business through the age-old barter system, are yet to be fulfilled. The traders have been demanding the setting up of proper banking and communication facilities, besides exemption from the purview of value-added tax (VAT) and expansion of list of items that can be traded.

Besides Salamabad, which is located at Uri in Baramulla district, the LoC trade is also done through Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch district of the Jammu region.

The cross-LoC convention would be attended by representatives of the Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chambers of Commerce and Industry (JKJCCI), Kashmir and Jammu Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Federation of Industries of Kashmir and Jammu, Cross-LoC Traders Associations from Salamabad and Poonch. The delegation from PoK include representatives of the JKJCCI, Chambers of Commerce of Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli and LoC Traders Associations of Rawalakot, Hajira and Muzaffarabad.

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Traders call on Governor

Srinagar: A group of participants attending the cross-LoC trade conference, which will begin tomorrow, called on Governor NN Vohra at the Raj Bhawan here today.

Briefing the Governor about the issues to be deliberated upon during the conference, Sushobha Barve, executive director, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, New Delhi, said the stakeholders would assess the socio-economic impact of the cross-LoC trade over the past four years and bring about greater synergy between the traders and the government departments concerned for the smooth conduct of the trade.

Besides Barve, delegates representing various trade and business organisations from both sides of the LoC were also present on the occasion and discussed matters related to the LoC trade.

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Residential areas turning into commercial hubs
Residents resent MC’s inaction
Majid Jahangir/TNS

Srinagar, July 9
The unprecedented growth of business ventures in many residential localities of Srinagar city is becoming a cause of concern among the residents. Residents of the city complained that the civic body - Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) - was turning a blind eye towards the issue, which was threatening the social fabric of society.

“Our locality Karan Nagar was once the most posh colonies of the city, but the residential colony has been turned into a business hub making the lives of local residents miserable,” said Parvaiz Ahmed, a government employee. “The SMC has not taken any step to stop commercial activities in the areas meant for residential purposes.”

Not only Karan Nagar, but many other areas like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Boulevard and Bishembar Nagar have turned into commercial hubs.

“In most of the cases, residential houses have been transformed into a hotel or a shop,” said Tariq Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh.

This trend of converting residential areas into commercial places has forced many residents to dispose of their houses to ensure their privacy.

“Many new commercial complexes have come up within these localities, which has made our life miserable,” said another resident of Jawahar Nagar. SMC Commissioner GN Qasba said it was a serious issue. “If anyone approaches us with a complaint, we will ensure that these violations are stopped,” he said. 

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Omar woos IT companies
M Aamir Khan
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 9
Admitting that it was not possible to provide a government job to every youth of the state, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today urged the information technology (IT) companies of the country to invest in the state.

While addressing a convention organised by the ASCENT group here, Omar said: “I remember during the tenure of (former Chief Minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, at an IT conference attended by the then boss of Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy, he (Murthy) had said, give me six days of peace and I will invest on the seventh day. We can now give him 10 to 15 days of peace. They can come and invest on the 16th day.”

Asserting that the state government should not be seen as a job provider but a service delivering and development giving concern, he said the total annual income of the state was just Rs 6,500 crore and the yearly salary bill of the government employees was Rs 13,500 crore.

Omar said the losses per annum on electricity supply accounted for another Rs 2,000 crore and therefore the government was creating government job facilities for youth only to the extent possible.

However, he expressed satisfaction after a majority of the participating youth at the seminar did not list government jobs as their first preference. “Gone are the days when medical and engineering fields were the only choice for the young generation. There is a vast world before you and you are talented enough to prove your ability,” he added.

Minister for Higher Education Abdul Gani Malik underlined the need for making youth aware of the vast job market available in the country, both in the government and the private sector.

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NC leader hits out at Jaitley

Jammu, July 9
Additional general secretary of ruling National Conference (NC) Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal said yesterday that NC was committed to mitigate the problems of people. He was addressing public meetings in Samba and Trewa area of Bishnah.

Terming the recent statement of BJP leader Arun Jaitley at Jammu that Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru was responsible for the Kashmir problem as misconceived, he said the BJP leaders were trying to befool the people.

Joining the issue with BJP, the NC leader termed it a cheap gimmick of Jaitley that Shyama Prasad Mukerjee had laid down his life for the integration of J&K with India. “It was the Indian Parliament that gave the state a special status within the Union by making the accession conditional under terms and conditions of the instrument of accession of Maharaja Hari Singh. Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had died due to a heart attack,” he said. — TNS

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Hostel of forest training school inaugurated

Srinagar, July 9
Minister for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf Ahmed today inaugurated a newly constructed hostel building of the Kashmir Forest Training School (KFTS), Chittarnar, in Bandipore district of Kashmir valley.

“The building has been constructed at a cost of Rs 24 lakh,” an official said here.

Altaf also laid the foundation stone of Forest Division Office Chittarnar, which would be constructed at a cost of Rs 35 lakh.

Highlighting the huge tourism potential of the area, Altaf said eco, water and adventure tourism would be promoted to give boost to the local economy with a special focus on creation of employment avenues in this lucrative sector. He also released a special issue of the magazine “The Vann” published by the Kashmir Forest Training School. — TNS

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