Describing dialogue as the only means to sort out issues and end the culture of violence, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today hoped that people from all shades of opinion in Jammu & Kashmir would join the dialogue process initiated in the State.
In her message to the people on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day, the Chief Minister said dialogue is the only way by which the culture of violence in the State could be ended. She said she has been pleading for initiation of dialogue in the State and expressed happiness that Centre, agreeing to her suggestion, appointed Mr. Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for the State. She, however, maintained that the appointment of Mr. Sharma as the interlocutor is a major development to ensure durable peace in the State rather than a temporary measure to calm down tempers as happened in the past.
Expressing concern on the obtaining situation along borders which has led to huge loss of life and property, the Chief Minister hoped Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, using his stature and wisdom, would pace up his efforts in this regard so that the State becomes a bridge of peace between the two countries, ending the bitter phase of acrimony between them.
Noting with satisfaction that fascination for violence is declining among youth, Mehbooba Mufti said parents, friends and even social media are playing their role in dissuading them from slipping into a path where death and destruction are the only end results. She said though all over the world the ill effects of violence are fairly pronounced now, the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been the immediate witnesses and victims of violence.
Terming peace imperative for executing developmental and welfare initiatives of her Government, Mehbooba Mufti sought support from people in this regard. “If peace prevails, developmental and welfare measures can take off, tourists can come, investment can happen and also new political initiatives can materialize”, she said in her message.
The Chief Minister expressed happiness that the people of the State have maintained the culture of brotherhood, amity and friendship among themselves. She said it was encouraging to note that Jammu has emerged as an abode of this culture where people from all regions, faiths and cultural diversities are living. “I compliment the citizens of this city who have exemplified themselves as a tolerant society in the present-day world where hatred and suspicion have taken the centre stage”, she said in her message.
Outlining the achievements of her Government, the Chief Minister said soon after her taking over, she had promised review of the cases registered against youth from 2008. “As the things cooled, I started the process and ordered the withdrawal of cases registered from 2008 to 2014 against 4327 youth”, she said adding subsequently she ordered withdrawal of cases registered from 2015 to 2017 against 4740 totalling to the withdrawal of cases against more than 9700 youth so far. She hoped that this humanitarian gesture by her Government would yield more positive results so that more such cases are put to review bringing more relief to youth and the society. She said continuing with her healing touch, she sanctioned cash relief and offered jobs to the pellet victims who lost their vision during the unrest of 2016.
In order to make administration more accountable and to take it to the doorstep of people in far flung areas, the Chief Minister said she has initiated a series of public grievances camps in so far 14 districts of the State while as in the remaining districts these would be held soon. The aim, she said, is to execute expeditiously the welfare measures she has thought of for the people.
Terming the decision to regularize around 60 thousand daily and casual workers as historic, Mehbooba Mufti said the step would free these workers from the uncertainty of getting their dues and running from pillar to post in this regard. Similarly, she said, the Government has decided to implement the 7th Pay Commission recommendations in respect of its employees from April this year which, she said, would encourage them to work with zeal and contribute more positively to the welfare of the State.
The Chief Minister, it may be recalled here, had promised the regularization of these casual workers and implementation of 7th pay Commission recommendations on the Republic Day last year.
Describing Prime Minister’s Development Package as a major intervention to change the developmental and infrastructural profile of the State, the Chief Minister said under the said package a whopping Rs. 42000 crore would be spent on development and upgradation of highways, construction of tunnels between the regions and further improving the inter-regional connectivity in the State. “It is a challenge, (given the topography) but we are doing it wholeheartedly”, she said in her address adding her Government has approved Rs. 4000 crore worth two ring road projects to address the traffic congestion in Srinagar and Jammu cities and preliminary work on these projects has already started.
Terming Education as a means to change the fate of a society, Mehbooba Mufti said her Government has decided to upgrade 400 middle and high schools in the State to further strengthen the educational network in the State. She said during the last year itself the two notified Cluster Universities (at Srinagar and Jammu) have started functioning and 17 new degree colleges have been proposed at places where the students have to travel long distances to attend colleges.
The Chief Minister said she reviewed the pace of work on the five new Medical Colleges in the State periodically during last year and even more than 3000 vacancies have been created for these colleges so that these are made functional as soon as the construction is completed.
Mehbooba Mufti said her Government is making efforts to tide over the problem of unemployment in the State. “Even as we are creating job avenues in sectors like industry, handicrafts and tourism, during the last year more than six thousand boys and girls were appointed in various Government Departments and 10 thousand more recruitments are in the process”, she informed while stressing that she was happy to note that all these recruitments have been made in a transparent and merit driven manner. Besides, she said three thousand positions of Rehbar i Khel are being filled to impart sports training to the youth.
The Chief Minister said as an important measure to connect people of difficult areas, her Government introduced air connectivity to far flung areas like Gurez, Machil, Wadwan, Kishtwar etc. during the last year. She said a large number of welfare schemes, particularly for marginalised and weaker sections, were introduced by her Government while referring to recently launched scheme for workers in unorganised sector, enhancement in old age pensions and other such initiatives.