Jammu: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday said that only rule of law, like elsewhere in the country, would prevail in J&K and in this backdrop, the regressive land (grant) rules of the Union Territory were modified.
He made these remarks while responding to a query in his media interaction here at the Convention Centre in the winter capital.
“It is the rule of law that governs the country. In Jammu and Kashmir also, only it (rule of law) will prevail. In this connection, one needs to understand as to what necessitated the framing of new laws. It is because earlier land rules (now repealed) in J&K were regressive, outdated and against the interests of common masses," the Lieutenant Governor said.
The query was related to recently modified Land Grants rules which elicited lot of outrage, particularly among the Kashmir hoteliers on the pretext that the notified rules would adversely impact the economy of Gulmarg and other such areas and that too in a scenario when the government was talking about promotion of economic activities in the aspirational towns.
Whether the government consulted any stakeholders prior to the framing of these rules, was yet another part of the question.
"We have modified many such laws. There was another regressive law here that a farmer had to seek the permission of the Revenue minister if he (farmer) intended to develop an orchard. Again, he would have to procure the permission if he wanted to cut it or do away with it. We changed that law like many other (outdated) laws. Now land passbooks are being made available to the people in three languages," LG Sinha stated.
Asserting that his administration was focussing more on use of technology to facilitate people, he remarked, "I reiterate a fact number of times - Had the land records been properly maintained during the Mahabharat era, the Lord Krishna would have easily sorted out the issue related to Paanch Gaon(five villages demanded by Pandavas from Kauravas to avoid disastrous war). We're going to do that (proper maintenance of land records) now."
"Yet another thing I want to delineate here is that hardly 400-500 people will be affected by it (modified land rules). I assert here that no poor shopkeeper or person will be adversely affected by it (modification). But yes, if a person is enjoying the possession of a property worth Rs 100 Cr and paying peanuts then I must remind one and all of the directive of the apex court of the country on this account. This is the law of land. I will respect the (decree of) Supreme Court of India. The whole country should honour it (SC directive). Same law we have brought here. There is no separate law on this account in any other state of the country. There are some people who are unnecessarily trying to mislead the gullible masses," he said.
He averred that the government was bringing laws and taking all out steps to ensure J&K farmers should have the highest income among farmers across the country.
ON G20 MEETING
The Lieutenant Governor stated that Srinagar would be hosting one of G20 meetings and the administration was requesting the Government of India that one meeting should be scheduled in Jammu also.
"But so far we have not been able to get clearance (for Jammu hosting one of G20 meetings). So presently a meeting is proposed at Srinagar only. Yesterday we had a meeting to deliberate on the arrangements to be put in place. We believe that we will not lag behind when compared to other states of the country hosting this prestigious event. I hope that with the collective efforts we will be able to showcase our strength and the best of traditions, culture and splendour of J&K at the international level," he said.
LG Sinha said that for J&K citizens also this would be a wonderful opportunity. "We will try to associate our students, women and other strata of the society to make it an all inclusive exercise so as to showcase our unprecedented development," he stated.
With regard to the security angle, he reassured that it would be a foolproof exercise.
"You need not to worry on account of security. During Amarnath Yatra also, efforts were made to build a (negative) narrative raising security concerns. But it successfully culminated with an impressive footfall of pilgrims with the blessings of the Lord Shiva. Even otherwise, the security forces have already broken the backbone of those who used to create hindrance in terms of security. So rest assured, the meeting would take place amid foolproof security. Our revered guests would get full respect and they would go back with cherished memories of hospitality in consonance with the J&K's pristine culture and splendour," he added.
ON RAHUL GANDHI'S BHARAT JODO YATRA
In a query pertaining to senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, set to enter J&K in the third week of January, the Lieutenant Governor said that the J&K administration did not intend to disrupt anyone's yatra (march) within the precincts of law but “no anti-India act would be allowed.”
Asked to comment on the letter of the Union Health Minister addressed to Rahul advising him that in the wake of rising COVID cases in the country, either he should suspend his Yatra or should follow (COVID) protocols, LG Sinha said, "Yes, I have read the statement of the Union Health Minister and his direction for (stepping-up) genome sequencing (in the wake of rising cases of COVID). We don't have any intention to stop or disrupt anyone's Yatra (march). However, when there was COVID, many activities were stopped. Our decision will be based on the (COVID) situation at that particular moment (the entry of Yatra in J&K).”
“Here in J&K, all people enjoy full liberty to pursue political and democratic activities. However one needs to remain cautious of one thing - no anti-India activity will be tolerated. If someone indulges in an activity prejudicial to the interests of India, the state will intervene and it (activity) will certainly be stopped," he said, while responding to second part of the poser as to whether the Yatra would be allowed in J&K, given a lot of security concerns as well.
ON GRIEVANCES OF AGITATING PM PACKAGE AND JAMMU-BASED RESERVED CATEGORY EMPLOYEES POSTED IN KASHMIR
With regard to protesting Kashmiri migrant (PM package) Jammu based reserved category employees posted in Kashmir seeking relocation to Jammu due to security concerns and release of salaries, LG Sinha said that they would not get salaries while sitting at home as the government had tried to address all their genuine concerns with sincerity.
"You've raised the issue of Kashmiri Pandit and Jammu based employees. They have been on the strike since the occurrence of a tragic incident (target killings) earlier this year. Throughout I had been in regular touch with them. I made efforts to redress their long-pending grievances," he said.
The Lieutenant Governor stated that they were demanding that they should be posted at safer locations. Following a series of meetings of stakeholders with the senior officers, almost all such employees were transferred to district headquarters, he said.
"Few (employees) are there in tehsil headquarters or there are some employees of Rural Development Department who cannot be posted in the cities. Hence they have been transferred to the villages adjoining cities. Second major step taken in this connection has been that no single Kashmiri migrant or minority community employee be posted in any school or office. Minimum two or three such employees will be posted at a place," he shared.
With regard to their safety concerns, LG Sinha said, "From their point of security, in every district we have appointed an officer. Even in our office (LG's office), there is an officer who listens to their grievances and tries to redress them as expeditiously as possible. For a long, they (employees) had not been promoted. That issue too has been addressed."
"We have promoted all these employees. The list of non-gazetted employees, due for promotion to gazetted ranks, has been sent to the Public Service Commission (PSC). They were appointed in 2015. I, myself, spoke to the PSC chairman who informed me that the process of promoting employees of other categories, general categories, appointed in 2014, had been completed. Now the promotion process vis-à-vis these employees too will be set in motion and completed," he said.
Mentioning another problem related to these employees, he said, "There is another request by these employees, which even I agree that is very genuine in nature and it is related to their accommodation. For the purpose, the land has been identified and sanctioned. In most of the cases, the tendering process has been completed, wherever it has not been done, that too will be completed soon. Recently I along with the Chief Secretary and other senior officers visited there. By April, 1200 more quarters will be provided to them. So by next year, around 1700-1800 houses will be ready and will be given to them (employees). They (employees) should remain safe- is our priority."
On account of their salaries, LG Sinha stated, "Publicly I want to assert this so that they (employees) also listen to it and take note of it. During deliberations with me, they (employees) had personally sought a breathing space. Hence, the salaries of all employees till August 31 were cleared. But now this cannot happen that they continue to draw their salaries, while staying at home (without performing duties). This is a loud and clear message which all (employees) should listen to and understand its essence. I have full sympathy with them. J&K administration is making all out efforts and is fully geared up to help them, protect them while ensuring full security."
"Similarly, Jammu based employees, who are serving there in Kashmir, also need to comprehend one plain fact. They are Kashmir division employees. As a district cadre employee serving in Poonch cannot be transferred to Jammu. On the same analogy, the employees of the Kashmir division cannot come (cannot be transferred) to the Jammu division. This rational fact everyone should realise and understand," LG Sinha asserted.
"Notwithstanding this fact as I told them there was no such policy in vogue, I assured them that the committee, constituted by the Chief Secretary, for the purpose would deliberate on this issue and would try to frame a new policy utilising even if there is a small opening available on this account. It's just a coincidence that the senior officer, who was heading this committee, moved out of J&K, following his transfer. But the process is on," he said.
ON INVESTMENT PROPOSALS
When asked to comment on opposition leaders' (read PDP president) dig at the administration, citing reply tabled in the Parliament and picking holes in its claims about humongous investment in J&K post 2019, the Lieutenant Governor reiterated that the investment would exceed Rs 70,000 Cr.
"Yes, we too read that in newspapers. On that account, I would like to assert that the answer would soon be rectified and the correct answer would be tabled in the Parliament. But if you talk to me, even in the individual perspective, I'll list the names of 13-14 persons, who have invested Rs 100 Cr, Rs 200 Cr or even Rs 900 Cr in J&K. So you just don't bother about it as the issue (investment) is our topmost priority," he stated.
He recalled that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited J&K, he performed the groundbreaking ceremony of investment projects of Rs 38080 Cr.
"With regard to those projects, the land has been sanctioned to the investors. In certain cases, we are faced with certain problems where we could not create desired infrastructure. There we are creating desired infrastructure viz., road, power and water facilities on a priority basis. Rest assured, I reiterate and do so in right earnest and with a great sense of responsibility that this figure (investment) is going to exceed Rs 70,000 Cr," the Lieutenant Governor asserted.
ON TERROR ECOSYSTEM
LG Sinha asserted that action would be taken against everyone, who would be part of the terror-ecosystem.
He made this assertion responding to a query about his reiteration about the efforts being taken to dismantle the terror ecosystem in J&K.
Poser was - Are the leaders from mainstream political parties also a part of this terror eco-system and if, yes, what will be the kind of action taken against them to dismantle it (terror ecosystem) completely?
"This issue cannot be deliberated in a press conference. On this subject, our ACS (Additional Chief Secretary) Home, police officers and intelligence set up keep a record as to who is part of the terror eco-system and who is not. However, definitely I can assert to the extent that as a matter of policy, action will be taken against each and every person, whosoever he or she may be, yet part of the terror ecosystem," he said.
ON TERROR THREATS TO FOIL OPENING OF ISRAELI CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE IN J&K
In response to a query related to Pak-backed terrorists' threat to attack to foil plan to open Centres of Excellence in Kashmir and Jammu by Israel as part of Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IRAP), the Lieutenant Governor said that no external force could dictate terms to the present dispensation.
"Who will stay in Jammu and Kashmir and who will not or which office will open and function here and which will not - to decide on this issue is an exclusive domain of J&K administration and the Government of India. Only they are authorized to take a call on this issue and no one else can dictate terms to us. We will work at the behest of someone or some (external agency) will guide us or will be allowed to decide on that account - this is not going to happen. Those days are gone - you need to cling it to your memory," he said.
ON FARMERS' WOES
In response to a question about the arrangements in place to create awareness about the schemes introduced for agriculture development among the masses, mainly farmers in far off villages of Pir Panchal and Chenab valley sub-regions besides to ensure water supply for irrigation purposes in the areas located in treacherous pockets of Rajouri, Poonch and Kishtwar, LG Sinha said that the interventions recommended by the UT level apex committee would address all these issues.
Reference was to the UT level apex committee for holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors in the UT of J&K.
"It has been ensured that these interventions adequately address these issues. Your concern is very genuine. This is true that there is a lot of difference between making plans and their implementation on the ground. Besides, we are also taking the assistance of students pursuing graduation or post-graduation in both our agri varsities viz., SKUAST-Jammu and SKUAST-Kashmir for holistic development of agriculture. Besides, the officers of concerned departments and the faculties in these varsities too were contributing enthusiastically in this direction," he said.
He stated that significant inventions were also being made by the administration to ensure availability of quality seeds to the farmers. "In this connection, we are also setting up Kisan Khidmat Centres, seed Processing units and seed village. The interventions introduced will address all problems on this account," he said.