Mehbooba meets Rajnath, Jaitley; discusses AoA, PMDP, security

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday.

HM, CM review strategy for peaceful summer

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 27: Two days before first-ever PDP-BJP coalition Government would complete its half of the term, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also happens to be the PDP president, today met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi and discussed with him the implementation of ‘Agenda of Alliance’ (AoA), which was reached between the two Alliance partners before formation of the Government.
Sources told the Excelsior that though some “key points’’ in the AoA have either been implemented or were in the process of implementation, there were some major controversial issues on which there was no headway yet including transfer of power projects to Jammu and Kashmir and setting up of the Delimitation Commission.
Though both parties are signatories to the AoA, the Central BJP was indirectly opposed to transfer of any power project to J&K. Similarly, the PDP was also reluctant to set up the Delimitation Commission citing freezing of increase in the constituencies up to 2026.
Sources said the PDP wants further movement on the AoA, which Mehbooba took up with Rajnath Singh. In view of this, Mehbooba stressed for initiation of necessary steps for expeditious execution of the AoA.
Mehbooba also met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and sought timely and expeditious release of funds and reimbursement claims under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
The Union Home Minister and the Chief Minister also reviewed security situation in Jammu and Kashmir including tension along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch, Rajouri, Uri, Tanghdar and other areas of the State and construction of bunkers for the border dwellers figured prominently at the meeting.
“The situation developing on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir figured at the meeting that lasted about half an hour,’’ sources said, adding the LoC tension that was confined to twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region during the past about 10 months, has also spread to Uri and Tanghdar in Kashmir, where large number of villagers had to migrate.
Mehbooba took up with Rajnath Singh the issue of construction of both community and individual bunkers for the border dwellers for which the Minister of Home Affairs has already approved Rs 415 crore. However, there was slight hiccup between Centre and State on hiring agency for construction of the bunkers. While the State Government has maintained that it was capable of construction of bunkers, the Centre wanted the bunkers to be constructed by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), a Central construction agency.
“The construction of bunkers, which will be initially confined to five border districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch could now start very shortly,’’ sources said.
They added that overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, ahead of the summer, which is always very crucial in Kashmir as it was during this period that protests generally take place, upcoming tourist season and keeping the Valley peaceful during this period, also figured at the meeting between Rajnath Singh and Mehbooba Mufti.
Both Centre and State Governments want the Kashmir valley to remain calm during summer, which would result into revival of tourist season, which had been totally dismal in 2016 and 2017. Holy pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine, which will be for two months this year from June 28, also falls during the crucial period of summer.
The two leaders were also reported to have discussed the ongoing peace initiatives being undertaken by the Centre’s Special Representative on Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma and more Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that the Central Government could take to restore peace in the Valley.
On recommendations of Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre has already announced number of CBMs for Jammu and Kashmir. Sharma had recently concluded his three day visit to South Kashmir. Early this month, he had visited Jammu for four days including the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.
Sources said withdrawal of FIRs against first-time stone pelters, the orders for which have already been issued, figured in the meeting. The issue of withdrawal of FIRs of 2008 Shri Amarnath Ji land row agitation in Jammu were also discussed.
In the evening, the Chief Minister also met Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley in the Union capital.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed in detail the economic issues confronting the State besides the implementation of Rs one lakh crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Mehbooba sought timely and expeditious release of funds and reimbursement claims under the package. She also made a case for making special funds available to the State Government to meet the liabilities of left out affected persons of 2014 floods.
She made a demand for swapping high interest loans with soft interest loans to reduce the repaying burden on the State Government. She pitched for taking care of various liabilities on account of power bills through State bonds of Rs 3500 crore.
Mehbooba apprised the Union Finance Minister about the difficulties being faced by the local traders on account of losses during the unrest of 2016. She sought all help to them to get out this situation including interest subvention and re structuring of their loans.
It may be recalled here that the members of the business community back home had made the request with the Chief Minister for the same a number of times and the Chief Minister had assured them to take it up with the Centre.
The Union Finance Minister assured the Chief Minister that the Centre would take all necessary steps to address the issues raised by the Chief Minister.