J-K political leaders submit memorandum to LG demanding restoration of internet, release of detainees

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Jan 7 (ANI): Months after provision of Article 370 was done away with, several political leaders from the newly carved Union Territory, Jammu and Kashmir have submitted a memorandum to Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu demanding release of detainees, withdrawing of cases against youth, restoration of statehood among others.

In a memorandum to LG dated January 7, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari (Former Minister), Ghulam Hassan Mir (President Democratic Party Nationalist), Zaffar Iqbal (Former MLC), Mohammad Dilawar Mir (Former Minister), Javed Hassan Beig (Former MLA), Noor Mohammad Shiekh (Former MLA), Choudhary Qamar Hussain (Former MLA), Raja Manzoor Ahmad (Former MLA) have put up several demands.

The leaders in their memorandum have stated that "although it is heartening Kashmir Valley remained peaceful and no fatalities were recorded due to enhanced security measures and other administrative efforts, but the credit must go to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who showed extreme maturity while registering their peaceful protest."

"Fact of the matter is that a majority of people in Jammu and Kashmir feel hurt and there are vocal concerns wherein they feel their decades-long privileges were unceremoniously curtailed," they collectively said.

They stressed that no development is possible unless the apprehensions among people are allayed in a "just and humane manner".

"In view of keeping the pluralistic ethos and diversity intact, it is more than essential that restoration of statehood to J-K is considered as an immediate requirement for keeping up the spirit of coexistence and allowing this mosaic to continue to shine in this part of the country," they said.

Asserting that the constitutional and legal decisions taken on August 5 have been viewed by significant number of population of J-K as something like "stripping them off from the rights over their land and other rightful holdings", they said, "Though the country's leadership including the Prime Minister and Home Minister have repeatedly cleared these doubts, yet the dominant perception about the August 5 decisions remains the same."

"This most important issue can be addressed by tangible legal and constitutional safeguards that can be put in place by virtue of which protection of Domicile Rights including that of reservation for the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir in the matter of employment and that of admissions to professional courses is ensured," they said.

Talking of the detentions, the leaders in their memorandum said, "Now that the life has almost returned to normal and all apprehensions regarding law and order subsided, it is a genuine demand that these detainees should be immediately shifted from the jails across the country to Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently released on priority basis."

The leader said it would be a great "Confidence Building Measure" if the cases of these PSA detainees are reviewed on compassionate and lenient grounds to facilitate their early release.

"There are scores of youth, (mostly teenagers) who were detained under different FIRs by police during law and order situation in the summer of 2016. Then juveniles, these youth are now adults who are living life of ordinary citizens," they said.

"Some of these youth have got jobs in Police and Army, but they are denied Character Certificates as their cases are awaiting disposal in police stations. This issue merits urgent attention of the Government. It is requested to withdraw cases against such youth on compassionate grounds and support them integrate into the society," they added.

Highlighting that people of Jammu and Kashmir have always seen J-K Bank as a repository of trust and confidence of their economic interests, they said, "There is a dire need for some concrete, purpose-oriented measures and interventions to restore the functional dominion of J-K Bank which holds a revered position in Jammu and Kashmir's economic trajectory."

Noting that the agriculture and horticulture sectors are the mainstay of the economy in J-K, they stated that though "packages" have been announced by the State and Central governments from time to time for the upliftment of these sectors, yet the "absence of a practicable mechanism to support the growers and farmers has been missing".

"Introduction of schemes specific to orchard rejuvenation and high-density plantation for apple is the need the hour to increase the overall productivity in the long run. A special focus on the establishment and promotion of nurseries for root stock and graft buds for the high-density trees. This is in with the Hon'ble Prime Minister vision to double farm-level income by 2022 in India," they said.

The leaders further claimed that it is "pertinent to mention that the November snowfall caused massive damage to orchards for which a concerted survey and relief is yet to be done."

"Moreover, the loans which the farmers have taken under KCC, have to be waived off because the damage to orchards and farms and the produce is too costly a burden they have to endure," they said.

Talking of support for Industry and Manufacturing Sector, they said that the industrial and manufacturing sector is critical to the development of Jammu and Kashmir and an impetus on the same will lead to long term economic growth and increased private sector employment.

"Along with the planned Investors Summit in 2020, tangible policy measures must support the existing industries as well as the development of new units," the memorandum submitted by the J-K leaders read.

"The revival of tourism and allied industries including hotels, handicrafts, tour operators, houseboat owners, shikara wallahs is critical to the revival of the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. Post lifting of the travel advisory in October 2019; concrete measures must be taken immediately to support the industry," they said.

"The operations of the Jammu and Srinagar airports should be opened for international flights from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, along with the regular operationalization of evening/night operations for domestic flights. This will provide a much-needed boost to inbound tourism along with the opening of employment opportunities for locals," they said.

The leaders said, "unemployment is a burning issue in Jammu and Kashmir" which has not only caused great distress to the people but to a great extent fomented the trouble in the region.

"The routine recruitments in the government services are too small to attend the colossal issue of joblessness. The initiatives taken by the previous governments like SKEWPY have miserably failed," they said while adding that there is an immediate need to form a job policy in Jammu and Kashmir which should ensure respectful ways of earning for the jobless youth for which liberal economic support from the Centre is essential.

The leaders said that the restoration of internet connectivity in all regions of the Union Territory needs to be looked into as a major confidence-building measure and an outreach to the public.

"This is also very important for the industrial economy, education, medical services, media, as well as a revival of the tourism sector in the Union Territory," they said.

The leaders pointed out that the National Highway connecting Jammu to Srinagar is in urgent need of works to be expedited and traffic management be streamlined.

Centre had in August last year announced the decision to abrogate Article 370 which gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It had also simultaneously announced the decision to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. (ANI)