Time has come to reach out to youth with active support of Centre: Guv

‘J&K needs SCA like Naxal-hit distts to fight militancy’
Battle taken to militants’ doorstep, militants on backfoot

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 16: In a significant statement, Governor Satya Pal Malik said today that time has now come to reach out to the youth with active support of the Central Government as he sought Special Central Assistance (SCA) given to Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts saying this will be of great help to Jammu and Kashmir in its fight against militancy and to fill critical gaps.
Addressing 5th meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog in New Delhi, Malik declared that rule of law has been established in Jammu and Kashmir, where good governance and development were going hand in hand. He declared that the battle against militancy has been taken to the door step of the militants who are now on the back-foot.
“Time has now come to reach out to our youth with the active support of the Government of India. The State Government will work with the Central Government to ensure that people of Jammu and Kashmir reap the benefits of great economic future, which the country is poised for in the next five years,’’ Malik said.
His statement that both State and Central Gov-ernments should reach out to the youth came just few days after his announcement at a press conference in Srinagar calling upon the militants to shun violence saying they will gain nothing from it.
Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is a front line State in the fight against militancy, he sought all support in this regard from the Central Government.
Malik said that a scheme like Special Central Assistance given to Left Wing Extremism (LWE) districts will be of great help to Jammu and Kashmir in its fight against the militancy and to fill critical gaps.
The Special Central Assi-stance is being given to Naxal-affected districts by the Central Government. So-urces said the Governor wanted similar kind of Central Assistance for Jammu and Kashmir, which is also affected by the militancy for past about three decades.
Referring to upcoming annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji shrine from July 1, the Governor expressed confidence that the yatra will be peaceful this year as well like the last year when it was incident-free.
Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage will last 46 days this year and conclude on August 15. The Central Government has already deployed about 450 additional companies of para-military forces for smooth conduct of the yatra.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landslide victory has given hope to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that steps would be taken by the Centre to restore peace and normalcy and put the State back on the path of rapid development, growth and prosperity,’’ Malik said.
He said that there is a sense of “fatigue and a yearning for change” all around the State.
“Jammu and Kashmir has been suffering from the ravages of armed militancy for almost 30 years now, mostly fed by external actors. Violence had become a way of life in some parts of the State, with people living under constant fear of terrorists and the Government had to provide security to them. At times, the State has had to take hard measures to ensure that there is peace and normalcy,” he said, adding that the consequence of militancy and violence has been that the State has had to suffer on the development front.
“The battle against militancy has been taken to the doorstep of the militants who are now on the back foot,’’ Malik said. He added that a record number of militants were neutralized last year and this year too over 110 militants have been killed so far and the pressure is palpable.
He added that recruitment of new militants is coming down rapidly in the Kashmir valley. People, Malik said recognize the importance of peace for development. And as they gradually take things into their hands, matters will only improve, he added.
“One of the biggest achievements of the State has been the empowerment of people through grassroots democracy,” Malik said.
He asserted that the budding Panchayati Raj system will be the “harbinger of change” in the State as the empowerment of people through grassroots democracy has been one of the biggest achievements.The common citizens in the State are getting tired of turmoil and focusing on development and efficient governance, the Governor said, adding that guilty and corrupt are being held accountable and brought to book.
After a long gap, the State had elections to Urban Local Bodies in October and the second-ever Panchayat elections in November-December last year, he recalled.”
We are confident that the budding Panchayati Raj system will be the harbinger of change in Jammu and Kashmir in the future,” Malik said. Inspite of boycott calls by mainstream parties and the Hurriyat and death threats by militant organizations, people came out in droves to vote for local representatives’, the Governor said.
The turnout was 74 per cent. This was in a State which could not hold by-elections to a Parliamentary seat two years earlier. All this was without any loss of life. Today, the State has a vibrant Panchayat Raj and Municipal system which is fully empowered with complete delegation of funds, functions and functionaries,” he added.
Malik said it was this rise in people’s aspirations that is giving us hope for the future. “There is energy in the system which is palpable. People want to take charge of their development works at the local level and manage their affairs. The State is fully supporting this through Legislative changes and administrative support,’’ the he added.
He added that people’s aspirations have, however, placed an onerous responsibility on all of them to deliver on the promise of development. In order to further this effort, the State is organizing a week long ‘Back to the Village’ programme from June 20 to 27. All Gazetted Officers of the State will stay in a Panchayat for two days, he asserted.
“They will connect with Panchayat representatives, attend Gram Sabhas, see how Government services are at the bottom, understand local needs and identify potential areas for improvement. This is a first in Jammu and Kashmir. We are new to this. But when I see the enthusiasm in my officers and the hope among the people, it gives me the assurance that the future is bright for grassroots democracy,” Malik said.
He added that the State too has been taking initiatives on its own, outside of the Centre’s assistance.”We have doubled the number of colleges in the State from 98 to 200, an expansion which will have a long term impact. We have added over 240 high and higher secondary schools. The number of Medical seats in the State has gone up from 500 to over 1000 in one year, probably a first for any State,’’ the Governor said.
“We have set up 11 Nursing Colleges, two Cancer Institutes, children’s super specialty hospitals, and so on,” the Governor said.
Malik sought personal intervention of the Prime Minister, for accelerating the development in the State which is imperative for putting the State on the path of peace, progress and prosperity.
The Governor said that equitable development of all regions is a priority for the Government. While Elevated High Speed Rail Corridors and two satellite townships will be developed in Jammu and Srinagar, the aspirations of Ladakh have been fulfilled through creation of a separate division, a University and empowerment of the Hill Councils. Kargil will soon have a full fledged commercial airport like Leh, he said.
On infrastructure, the Governor said that J&K has had over Rs 6000 crore of languishing projects, some pending for over 20 years. The State Government has set up a Jammu & Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) and raised Rs. 8000 crore of loans to fund these languishing projects in 18 months. The initiative has been noted as a best practice by the NITI Aayog, he said.
The Governor said that the State Government is taking all necessary steps to ensure that September-2014 like flood situation is not repeated in the State. He said a project has been initiated for dredging of Wular Lake and Jhelum for which he requested the Central Government to fund its share for the Wular, Dal and Jhelum Phase 2 projects which will save Srinagar and other parts of the Valley from future floods.
He said that State has also undertaken a programme for 100% piped drinking water supply to the entire State by 2021 for which he requested liberal financial support from Government of India. This will make J&K the first State in the country to have 100% piped water supply.
The Governor said that the National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar has been a source of great inconvenience. “Positioning of officers from NHAI on the site-fulltime is essential to avoid disruptions and ensure all time connectivity to Valley and Ladakh. Further, the international airport at Srinagar should be brought on the international route map,” he added.
The Governor said that J&K is organising first ever investment summit later this year and preparations are in full swing for this including setting up of two world class IT Parks.