From NC bastion, PDP seeks ‘a chance to serve Srinagar’
Srinagar, July 24: From an assumed National Conference bastion here, top Peoples Democratic Party leadership Sunday vehemently attempted to dispel the notion that the party neglected Srinagar when it ruled Jammu and Kashmir a few years back. And seemingly in a damage control mode, the party leaders, including its patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed sought a ‘chance to serve Srinagar’ by making a passionate appeal to the people ‘to give the party their mandate.’
Addressing a public gathering at Hazratbal, understood to be a stronghold of National Conference, Mufti said it was a “propaganda unleashed by his opponents that the PDP neglected Srinagar.”
“Though Srinagar has potential to become the heritage tourism capital of South Asia, given its rich and diverse cultural past, National Conference’s exploitation and neglect has marred the capital city,” Mufti said. “We started a reconstruction and beautification programme for Srinagar during our tenure. But the programmes haven’t moved beyond the points where we left them. So who is neglecting Srinagar?”
Mufti sought to explain, point-by-point, the initiatives taken by the PDP for the ‘welfare’ of Srinagar. “Today, however, it is sad to observe that Srinagar ranks perhaps the lowest in development index and in spite of claiming to represent the city politically for decades, NC has failed even in providing basic amenities to its population,” he said.
The PDP patron said the Self-Rule proposal of his party is the “only viable solution to the Kashmir imbroglio.”
“We have come up with the self-rule document after extensively working on it for about three years and have then only come to the conclusion that the proposal fulfils the aspirations of the people of Kashmir,” he said.
The Self-Rule, he said, guarantees the people to decide their fate. “We don’t want 1953 to happen again when the then prime minister of the state, late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, was put behind bars,” he said. “We want to rule on our own and have our own Governor. It is also time to have total freedom of trade and commerce and also the hassle-free people-to-people contact with Kashmir and the Pakistan Administered Kashmir.”
Mufti said the proposal focuses on economic integration, joint council and de-militarization.
In the backdrop of reports that the arrest of youth continues in Kashmir, Mufti said “it is unfortunate that the government doesn’t want peace to prevail in the Valley. The recurring arrest of youth amply signifies that the government wants to repress people and muzzle the voices of dissent.”
He said the upcoming Foreign Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan should be result-oriented.
“People of Kashmir are not driven by fanaticism that the government refuses to understand the reason of anger among youth,” Mufti said.
He said he had received reports that scores of young boys continue to be rounded up in Srinagar and other areas of the valley to sustain government’s ‘peaceful summer’ obsession. “Is this not a violation of human rights about which it is being repeatedly claimed the government will have a zero tolerance for?” he said.
SRINAGAR HEART OF KASHMIR: BAIG
The former Deputy Chief Minister, Muzaffar Hussain Baig exclusively spoke about Srinagar. “Kashmir is understood to be a beautiful place in the world. And the heart of this Kashmir is Srinagar while the heart of Srinagar is Hazratbal,” Baig said. “It is from this place (Hazratbal) from where Kashmir’s struggle has started in 1931. And it is this place where the leaders have promised plebiscite and replacement of power meters with heaters. But as on date, the promises are yet to be fulfilled, indicating how people have been taken for a ride by those who made such false assurances.”
Baig said “we realize that if we make a promise from this place, we have to fulfill it. That is because neither people nor God will forgive us for making false promises from a pious place like Hazratbal.”
“When I took charge of the Planning Department, the per-capita allocation for Srinagar district was very less compared to Jammu. No doubt, people of Jammu are our people and we respect their sentiments, but when it comes to justice, it should be for one and all. Thus, we increased that per capita income for Srinagar,” Baig said. “Even in the state plans, we kept major share of funds for Srinagar alone.”
Baig said the PDP got funds worth crores of rupees from the Asian Development Bank and under the Prime Minster’s Reconstruction Programme. “Besides ensuring cleaning of Dal, we wished to go for the beautification of river Jhelum. But the present Government stopped the beautification drive after taking it up for 2 kms, thinking its credit would go to Mufti Muhammad Sayeed,” Baig said. “We wanted both sides of the river to be developed and construct parks and restaurants within its 200 meter range. But the project has been shelved. We also wanted to display of our rich arts and crafts along the Jhelum Bund so that the tourists don’t find Srinagar only as transit point but as a destination too.”
Baig said Srinagar has a potential to become Asia’s best city. “We wanted to go ahead with the de-congestion of Old City and make colonies at Pampore, Budgam, and Qamarwari onwards for the artisans and residents of Old City. The colonies would have all the facilities and de-congested Srinagar by 25 percent,” Baig said. “I went to Pampore, Budgam and Qamarwari onwards to see the land for the purpose. But the NC unleashed a propaganda that PDP wants to shift the capital city which was not the case. We wanted to expand Srinagar.”
Given the problems that people of Old City face due to congestion, Baig said: “This is not a life which the people of life Srinagar deserve. This is the beautiful place where people should live comfortably,” he said.
Taking a dig at the NC leaders for promising replacement of electricity meters with heaters during the 2008 Assembly polls, Baig said: “You people were promised heaters in place of meters. We charged Rs 60 as power fee for a particular slab while the same is Rs 400 today,” he said.
He said: “Unless we have the reconstruction plan and employment driven initiatives for the people, Azadi or development would mean nothing to them. Rural people have given us the mandate. But people of the world come to Srinagar first. So unless Srinagar will give us mandate, we won’t be able to implement our plans. It is a sheer propaganda that we neglected Srinagar. We want to serve Srinagar as servants rather than rulers. And for that you’ll have to give us a chance to perform.”
Besides development oriented plans. Baig said the PDP has a political agenda as well. “The biggest thing is that gun from either sides is no solution to the Kashmir issue. The resolution will be when people voluntarily give their opinion. And that is why we ask India and Pakistan to move on the path of reconciliation and reconstruction,” he said.
Baig said PDP does not go to New Delhi as beggars. “We got Rs 3100 crores, including Rs 1600 crores for NHPC while rest Rs 1500 crores for development of Jammu and Kashmir. We got it as a matter of right because our rivers were given to Pakistan. And in turn the rivers like Beas, Ravi and Satluj benefit Rajathan Haryana and Punjab on which 70 percent of India’s agriculture meets. We wanted compensation for that. So we don’t beg,” he said.
He said: “We are not going to bow down on K-resolution. We will go with the majority. But we want our youth to not lay their lives. They can exercise the democratic rights to bring about a change,” Baig said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 24 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 24 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 25 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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