2008 Jammu agitation victims will also get compensation: CM

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti speaking in Upper House on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti speaking in Upper House on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

* Govt to review PSA cases of detained Kashmiri youth

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Jan 16: While stressing  the need to follow the spirit of Lahore declaration with the initiative of  former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee setting aside all other development once again,  Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said that peace must be given a chance in the region and New Delhi must take a lead by initiating a dialogue process.
While replying to the discussion on Governor’s address in the Upper House today,  the Chief Minister said that   peace in the region is imperative and it is the collective responsibility of all the political parties and other groups to work for it. There can not be any development if there is no peace. She said Govt of India and specially the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee took a bold initiative and took bus to Lahore by  making a good beginning.
“But what happened thereafter in the form of Kargil we all know.  Modi ji also made beginning and tried to normalise the relations with the Pakistan but Pathankote took place,” she said.
Recalling the remarks of late Vajpayee that ‘we can not change the neighbours’, the Chief Minister  said that Late Mufti Sahib took the peace initiative  and things improved along the borders and people started living in peace. With dialogue we can have always scope for a solution. She said that New Delhi must take lead in initiating dialogue  process so that peace is restored in the sub region.  She said Government at the Centre enjoys the huge mandate of the people of this country. And it provides an opportunity to them to move ahead in one voice  and get many of the issues confronting the State get resolved. ” To unbundle the knots of uncertainty, we need to strengthen this democratic system,” she added.
Referring to the  recent unrest in Kashmir valley, the Chief Minister said that she do not want to go into details how it happened and who were the people behind  but said whatever happened was unfortunate. She said many youth and even young boys lost their lives. Many suffered injuries. She referred to certain examples  where some innocents also fell victim to the bullets and many lost their eye sight. “There is strong need to  rehabilitate those families and provide compensation. It is the responsibility of the Government to rehabilitate  them,” she added
The Chief Minister said  a large number of those killed, blinded, injured or affected in any way during unrest in the Valley belonged to very poor families and many of them were orphans who had nobody to guide. As such the rehabilitation of their kin or these injured lies with the Government, she said. “I announced setting up of Special Investigating Teams to probe these killings besides announcing the ex gratia”, she maintained.
She also  referred to those killed during 2008 Shri Amarnath Land row agitation and loss suffered by the people and maintained that her Government has decided to provide compensation to those people as well.  She made specific mention of Chamail Singh from Pargwal in Jammu who had died in Pakistan jail in 2013  and said that his family will also be provided compensation.
Mehbooba maintained that many Kashmir boys have been detained under PSA and other cases and her Government has decided to review their cases and if no serious charges are found against them, they will be released.  A screening committee comprising  some senior office has also been constituted  for this purpose, she maintained.
The Chief Minister said only 138 persons were  detained by police for questioning and 370 persons are booked under Public Safety Act whose status is being reviewed on case to case basis. She said she has directed not to re arrest a person in whose favour the court has quashed the detention but take his parents into confidence while counseling him to shun the path of violence.
While referring to the Article 370, the Chief Minister asserted that strengthening of democratic system in the State holds key to the resolution of many issues. She maintained that Article 370 not only grants special status to the State but secures its pluralistic ethos as well.  On the special position of J&K, she said Article 370 is not only entry in the rule book but it has to be understood in depth and with perspective. ” it is not only  about securing  the geography of the J&K State alone but the pluralistic ethos and cultural diversity of the State as well,” she maintained.
The Chief Minister said ‘Agenda of Alliance’, which lays the basic framework of governance for the present Government, encompasses everything which has been thought of for the State.  She said the Agenda of Alliance is blue print for resolving the problems of the State in a multi stage manner.  She said dialogue is a universally accepted mechanism to resolve disputes and issues and her Government is keen to initiate political process in the State for which she asked all shades of opinion to help.
She appealed the members to rise above party lines and work to minimize the mistrust and discord between regions and people in the State. She said the need of the hour is that Jammu & Kashmir remains united as a single entity so that it approaches the issues confronting it with singular attention and focus. She said this was the biggest objective with her party while forming Government in the State in 2015.
Mehbooba Mufti said that  friendly relations between India and Pakistan are in the best interests of the State. “We have to find the issues of common interest and common benefit between the two countries and move ahead”, she said and hoped that relations between the two neighboring countries would take a better turn in days to come.
The Chief Minister further said that  Jammu and Kashmir can become a corridor between two emerging economic hot spots – South and Central Asia – to forge regional cooperation, energy transformation, trade and transit in the region.
“Taking advantage of its natural geographical location, Jammu & Kashmir could become a nucleus for forging economic cooperation between South and Central Asia,” she added.
Mehbooba Mufti said the Indian sub-continent was historically linked to Central Asia through Kashmir. “The trans-Kashmir corridor, with diverse sub-corridors, was symbolic of relative peace, prosperity, cross-cultural and ideological fertilization and human security until late 1940s,” she said and added that unfortunately, it ruptured in 1947 with the partition of the sub-continent.
She said India’s overland connections with her northern neighbourhood came to a standstill to the detriment of its diverse socio-cultural and politico-economic interests post-Independence. “However, the current reopening of traditional trans-Jammu and Kashmir and trans-PoK routes is strongly felt in view of the transforming geo-economic and geo-political scenarios at the regional and global levels,” she said.
Ms Mufti said not only Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads that have already been opened for movement of people and goods, all traditional road links including Suchetgarh-Sialkote road, Kargil-Skardu road, Bandipora-Gurez-Gilgit road and Nowshera-Mirpur road can be and should be opened for free movement of people and goods in the region. She said this could be followed by similar links between South and Central Asia across Jammu and Kashmir.
“Connecting South and Central Asia through Jammu and Kashmir will not only help bring political and economic stability to the region, but it will also revive J&K’s historical and natural position in the region,” she said.
Ms Mufti said her Government would value the criticism and suggestions of the opposition so that the governance system is further fine tuned in a collective manner.
Earlier, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Ramesh Arora and Zafar Iqbal Manhas spoke on  the Governor’s Address. Total 23 members participated in the debate on Governor’s Address.