Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Promotions in High Court Staff

Registrar General of J&K High Court JR Kotwal ordered promotions in different cadres of the High Court Staff on the basis of merit-cum-seniority.

According to the order number 476, Bashir Ahmed Vaid, Kewal Krishan, Rasal Singh (RBA Category), Shanker Dass, Vinod Kumar Bali, Janam Raj, Sushil Sharma and Shabir Ahmed Baqal Section Officers Grade-I are promoted to the available posts of Assistant Registrar, Protocol Officers and Accounts Officers.

Jatinder Singh, Shashi Koul and Sudhir Singh Section Officer Grade-II are placed as Grade-I. Subash Chander (SC), Bashir Ahmed Mir, Mian Rafiq, Syed Shamim and Rashid Munim Head Assistants are promoted to the post of Section Officer-I. Tasleema Jan and Mohammad Akbar Mir and Altaf Hussain Wani Head Assistant are promoted to the post of Section Officer Grade-II. Naseema Hassan Head Assistant has been promoted to the post of Court Officer.

Sanjeev Kumar, Syed Gulzar, Anuradha Sharma, Asima Llyas Chesti, Imtiyaz Ahmed Wani, Nazir Ahmed Ganai, Altaf Hussain Khan, Nazir Hussain Mir, Masooda Jan, Baljeet Kumar (SC), Ghulam Hussain Dar, Mohammad Imtiyaz Dar, Showkat Hussain, Imtiyaz Ahmed Dar, Ghulam Qadir Rather, Bashir Ahmed Beigh and Bilal Ahmed wani senior assistants are promoted to the post of Head Assistant. Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Shafi Ahangar (social caste) Senior Assistant are promoted as Assistant Court officer. Kulwant Singh, Ranbir Singh, Jaffer Ahmed Johd and Sohail Maqbool Junior Assistants are promoted as Senior Assistants.
In this order the services Syed Mubashir, Sunil Saproo, Farooq Ahmed Dar (RBA), Neetu Kohli and Vipin Mahajan's promotion as Senior Assistant has been regularized as Senior Assistant.

Eid ul Fitr in jammu

Eid-ul-Fitr marking the culmination of holy month of fasting Ramdhan was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety in Jammu region also with thousands of Muslims thronging the different Eid-gahs and Jamia Masjids throughout the region early this morning to offer Eid prayers.

In Jammu the biggest congregation was seen at Eid-gah Residency road where over five thousand Muslims offered Eid Namaz. Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister for Higher Education, Abdul Gani Malik, MoS for Power Shabir

Ahmed Khan and MoS for Rural Development Ajaz Ahmed Khan were among the prominent people who offered Eid Namaz at Eidgah Residency road.

However people protested against the Auqaf administration for not making adequate arrangements for them at Eidgah this time. They raised slogans against the Auqaf administration and Minister Haj and Auqaf, for in protest and accused it of its total failure in arranging the tent over head to protect the devotees from scorching heat while offering Namaz. They also alleged that no proper arrangements for drinking water were made by the Auqaf Administration.

The order was restored only after repeated appeals were made by Imam to protestors.

The administration knew fully that the people assembling to offer prayers in open at Eidgah would face problems due to scorching heat and as huge funds are at the disposal of Auqaf, still they failed to make arrangements for the devotees, said Mohd Qadoos a devout Muslim who had come to offer prayers at Eidgah.

Later talking to reporters Mr Rather said that Government will look into the matter and seek an explanation from Auquaf authorities. Rather said that State is limping back to normalcy fast and it is a good omen for prosperity and development.

He said peace is prerequisite for development and prosperity and the separatists should also provide a chance to peace in the State which has suffered a lot of devastation in 22 years of turmoil.

While justifying the decision regarding grant of amnesty to stone pelters, Abdul Gani Malik said that coalition Government is committed to restoration of peace in the State and the amnesty is the Eid gift to the youth.

He said the decision was taken by the Government to build confidence among the misguided youth to involve them for restoration of peace and tranquility in the State.

A large number of members of Muslim community offered Eid Namaz at Jamia Masjid Talab Khatikan, Eidgah Narwal, Jamia Masjid Kachhi Chawni, Sidhrah, Bhatindi and other mosques of city.

Besides the offering of special Eid prayers, exchange of sweets and hugs were the other highlights of the celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr in the Winter Capital.

Muslims attired in white dresses hugged each other and exchanged Eid greetings. The members of Hindu and Sikh communities also greeted their Muslim brethren on the occasion. Leaders of various political and social organizations had also reached Eidgah to greet the Muslims on the occasion of Eid.

People flooded markets and purchased assorted items, including delicacies and colourful garments.

Roadside 'bazaars' sprang up to woo shoppers with mutton, poultry, bakery products, sweets, ready-made garments and toys.

Attired in colourful dresses, children asked for 'Eidi' from the relatives while people exchanged sweets and gifts among friends and loved ones.

"I prayed for peace and brotherhood in the State and across the world as well so that people live in tranquility", Baffar Shah-a businessman said after offering prayers at Eidgah.

"We have come here to greet our Muslim brothers on the festival. We also pray to almighty for the early restoration of peace and prosperity in this trouble-torn State of Jammu and Kashmir,'' said Khem Chand, standing outside the Eidgah to greet his friends on the occasion.

MLA Poonch, Aijaz Jan wished everyone and offered special prayers at the Eidgah.

Tight security arrangements were also made across the winter capital and in outskirts for smooth and peaceful celebrations of the festival.

Reports of the Eid celebrations have also come from Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Ramban districts where thousands of Muslims thronged the Eidgahs and Jamia Masjids to offer special Eid prayers.

Thousands of Muslims thronged the Eidgah at Rajouri to offer the special Eid prayers. The DC Rajouri G A Khawaja was among the prominent people who offered the Eid Namaz in Eidgah.

On the occasion DIG Rajouri-Poonch range Rajesh Kumar and SSP Rajouri Vijay Samyal greeted the members of Muslim community.

Thousands of Muslims also thronged the Eidgah Poonch to offer prayers. Special Eid prayers were also held in Eidgahs at Thanamandi, Darhal, Manjakote, Budhal, Koteranka, Nowshera, Mendhar, Billawar and Bani.

The Minister of Cooperatives, Dr Manohar Lal also offered Eid greetings to members of Muslim community at Billawar.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amnesty for Stone Pelters

Policy for ‘stone pelters’ arrested in 2010 summer

In a significant development the state government today announced withdrawal of cases against around 1200 youths charged with stone pelting last summer.

However, the not-to-be-repeated ‘general amnesty’, evades nearly 100 others charged with arson and damage to property and all those who are still absconding.

“We have decided to withdraw charges against all youths who were arrested on charges of stone pelting last year except the ones involved in arson or damage to property. The amnesty, however, does not include those still in hiding,” chief minister, Omar Abdullah, told reporters in a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convocation Centre (SKICC).
“The cut-off date for amnesty is today....,” he added. “In future the arrestees can only be granted bail, but this ‘general amnesty’ will not be repeated.”

The number of those charged with arson and damage to property is less than 100, Omar revealed later in response to a question. 

The government decision has come days ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the deadline set by separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for government to release last year’s prisoners. The octogenarian separatist intended to launch an agitation after Eid if his demands, including the release of prisoners, were not fulfilled. 

The separatist’s intentions met with a strong criticism from the state government, but the latter refused to budge from his stand.   Recently, the government also announced the release of 12 separatist leaders.
Without linking it to Geelani’s threat, the CM said the amnesty was government’s “Eidi (Eid gift)” to youth, granted for an end to “apprehensions in the society.”

“We do not want to play with your future like they (separatists) did,” CM said, addressing the youth. “Please see that they used you last year and then left you onto your own. Now they demand the release of their companions, but no one talks about you.”

Responding to a question, the CM said the amnesty was purely a decision of the state government “without having anything to do with the interlocutors’ recommendations.”

“I would assume that it is their (interlocutors) area of interest, but we have not received any recommendations on this case from interlocutors,” he said. 

There are 35 persons detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) and 70 others are in judicial custody, Omar said, giving details, adding that as many as 76 government buildings were set afire, while 38 others were damaged.
“Sixteen private buildings were also set ablaze, while 18 others were damaged,” he said. “Sixty two vehicles, including 37 owned by the government, were burnt down while 160 other vehicles were damaged during protests.”

Govt waiting for final SHRC report

The chief minister said the government would wait for the final report on mass graves from state human rights commission before suggesting or announcing any future course of action.

“SHRC has asked for our response after which it will prepare its final report. We are waiting for the final report and once it comes we will suggest or announce the future course of action,” he said.
Separatist agenda directed from across

Responding to a query about the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq stand against exploitation of state’s water resources, Omar said the “separatists’ agenda is directed from across the Line of Control (LoC).”
He said the Pakistan wanted to delay the Kishenganga project “and when it could not be achieved legally they are attempting to do it the other way.

Anna ends fast

After securing Parliament's nod on key elements of Jan Lokpal bill, Anna Hazare today ended his 12-day-old fast declaring that electoral reforms will be next on his agenda.

The 74-year-old Gandhian accepted a glass of tender coconut water mixed with honey from a Dalit and a Muslim girl Simran and Ikrah  at 10:20 am on the dais at the Ramlila Ground ending over 288 hours of fast that began on August 16.
After a brief address, Hazare was driven straight to Medanta Medicity run by eminent cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan who was attending to him along with his team during his entire period of fast. Hazare will stay in the hospital for two-three days.
"I have only suspended my agitation. I will not rest until all the changes that I look to are achieved," he said to a thunderous applause from thousands of his supporters waving tricolour and shouting slogans like 'Anna Hazare Zindabad'.
Flanked by his team members, including Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia, Hazare said what has been achieved in Parliament yesterday is a victory of the people of India, democracy and those assembled in Ramlila Ground.

Maintaining that People's Parliament is bigger than "Parliament in Delhi", Hazare said that is why Parliament had to listen to people's Parliament.

"This movement has created a faith that the country can be rid of corruption and we can go ahead with implementing laws and the Constitution made by Dr B R Ambedkar," he said.

Referring to Parliament's decision to refer three of his demands  citizen's charter, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and creation of Lokayuktas through Lokpal bill for Standing Committee's consideration, he said, the country can be proud of this moment. Thirteen days of agitation has yielded fruits.

Outlining his future agenda, Hazare chose reforms in election and education systems and working for the betterment of farmers and labourers.

He said his fight would now be for Right to Recall and Right to Reject. While Right to Recall would be for those elected, the Right to Reject will be a column in the ballot paper which would ensure the voter has a right to say that he does not like the listed candidates.

"We have to reform electoral system. (we need) Right to Reject. You should be able to reject your candidate in the ballot paper. We have to do that. If majority say they do not like any of the candidates in the fray, the election should be cancelled. How much money they (candidates) will distribute? Once the candidate spends Rs 10 crore for one election and if the election is cancelled, then right sense will dawn upon them," he said.

He said they will have to think about farmers' problems as well as the woes of labourers and fight for them relentlessly.
Hazare said the fight for change should also focus on issues like protecting environment because the country may run out of fossil fuels like coal and petrol and those in power do not have the capacity to think of the future.
"We have to think over these things in the fight for change. We should not keep quiet even if the whole of Jan Lokpal Bill is passed," he said.    

Another area of concern for Hazare was the commercialisation of education and he said, "many people have commercialised education. They have opened shops. Children of poor people also should get education. This sector also needs reforms."

"Even if Jan Lokpal Bill is fully adopted, we have to continue to carry the flame of this struggle for change. I am confident that Parliament will not reject these demands. Even if it happens, people's Parliament will not reject these...The fight has just begun," he said.

Hazare said the current campaign has given him such inspiration that he will not keep quiet till change is brought. He also said he will tour the country to campaign for bringing in "much required" changes.

Against the backdrop of criticism from a section of Dalit leaders that his movement was anti-Constitution, Hazare said the movement was inspired by the Constitution written by B R Ambedkar, whom Dalits consider as their icon.
"Through this agitation we have also proved that people's parliament is supreme than the Parliament in Delhi. Ambedkar has inspired us. He enacted the constitution. We have to fight for them," Hazare said.

He also sought decentralisation of power, saying the real power should wrest with gram sabhas. "The Gram Sabhas should have the power to dismiss Gram Panchayats if they spend money without the former's permission," he said.

Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his efforts to resolve the issue.
"We also thank all the MPs who made it possible. Without them, it would not have been possible. We also thank all the political parties for passing the resolution in Parliament yesterday," he said.

He dismissed the charge that Team Anna was against Parliament and that their methods were anti-Constitution.
"We respect Parliament but sometimes issues come up. Swaraj is not that you elect people for five years and that you forget till the next elections," he said.

Kejriwal dismissed allegations that Team Anna had called politicians "thieves".

"Some people say we are against politicians. We never called all of them thieves. All politicians are not corrupt. There are politicians who even supported our agitation," he said.

"For the first time since independence there was such a big debate about the law. Every village should get the copy of a draft before a law is enacted. After getting their views the Parliament should consider the Bill. Only then Gandhi's freedom will be achieved," he said.

Rejecting charges that they were against Constitution, he said they respect Constitution and its architect B R Ambedkar. "We salute B R Ambedkar," he said.

In an apparent attack on RJD chief Lalu Prasad who criticised him in his speech in Parliament yesterday, he said, Ambedkar would not have imagined that a day would come that "a man can eat fodder" or that people will stash money away in Swiss banks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Support For Anna In jammu Kashmir

On the 11th day of Anna Hazare's fast at Union Capital today the protest demonstrations also continued in different parts of Jammu region in his support.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP): The ABVP, which has already launched a crusade against corruption throughout the country has also supported the Anna Hazare's movement. To give impetus to the movement ABVP formed a human chain outside Jammu University on Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar Road. The students from various colleges and Jammu University holding pla-cards and tricolor gathered out side the University and raised slogans against corrupt UPA led Congress Government.

ABVP demanded that Central Government should come out with a viable solutions and respect the sentiments of the people who are associated with the movement against corruption. The protestors said that ABVP would make all efforts to take the ongoing movement to a logical end against corruption. ABVP is demanding a strong Lokpal Bill must be presented in Parliament and passed to rid the country from these corrupt leaders and bureaucrats.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): A mass protest was held by BJP activists against corruption, black money and poverty at Kalli Jani and Pacca Danga. The Party activists holding pla-cards shouted slogans for eradication of corruption. The protestors who had tightened black strips on their foreheads and arms pledged to take the ongoing movement against corruption to logical conclusion. The demonstration was led by Yudhvir Sethi, BJP state secretary along with Vijay Mahajan and Arun Sethi.

Another programme was organized by party at Ramban under the leadership of BJP national secretary Shyam Jaju, National Executive Committee member, Dr Nirmal Singh and State vice president, Bali Bhagat. In his address Mr Jaju said that Congress led UPA at the Centre should realize that time has changed and their misdeeds of corruption and scams get exposed. The party can no longer claim to be a Gandhian Party, he added.

Jammu Kashmir Milchar Front: The Front chief Shamboo Nath Saproo while justifying the movement launched by Anna Hazare and civil society of India against corruption said the menace has spread like cancer in the society and it is high time for us to awake from deep slumber and join the nation-wide movement launched by Anna Hazare.

Private Schools Association: A massive rally was taken out today by the Private School Association of block Marh to extend its full support to anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare. The protestors were raising slogans in support of Jan Lok Pal Bill drafted by civil society of India. The march started from SSK Higher Secondary School Marh to Block Development Office. The rally was led by young leader, Gulab Singh Salaria and Lal Chand Gandotra president of the Association.

National Panthers Students Union (NPSU): Continuing their struggle against Corruption the Union held a massive protest at Shaheedi Sathal outside the GGM Science College here today. The Union has been protesting in support of Anna's crusade since the first day of his arrest. The protestors shouted slogans against the Congress led UPA Government. They were led by Abhay Sharma, provincial vice president NPSU. They accused the UPA Government of not taking the issue of corruption seriously and torched the effigy of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

Bharatiya Janata Party, New Plot Mandal: A massive protest was held by BJP against Rahul Gandhi at Tali Morh for his remarks that "if Lokpal would be corrupt then what would be done". The demonstration was led by Rajinder Sharma, state convener of Election Cell of BJP. Addressing the demonstrators he said Mr Gandhi can't mislead the public. Being an MP and general secretary of the Congress Party he should have gone through the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by civil society of India which has a provision that if Lokpal is corrupt then it could be dismissed by Supreme Court, he added.

Civil Society Muthi: The sit-in-dharna continued for 11th day at Muthi in support of veteran Gandhian and civil society of India who have launched a nation-wide movement against eradication of corruption. The speakers said the protest will continue till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed by Parliament. Girdhari Lal Sharma, Rajesh Thappa, Mukesh Sharma, Inderjeet Gupta, Madan Lal Abrol, Capt (retd) Raj Devf Singh and Kewal Sharma were among others who addressed the protestors.

J&K Movement for Peace and Justice: The movement urged the State and Central Governments to take effective steps to curb the corruption in the State. They stressed on urgent administrative reforms like strong, complete and functionable "State Accountability Commission", "State Vigilance Commission", and purposeful and powerful working of "State Information Commission" where in the functionaries are given enough powers to act and take action and not to be confined to sending reports.

They said the movement launched by Ramdev and Anna Hazare is a tiff of an iceberg.

Those who addressed included Deep Singh, Kuldeep Kumar Rao, Dr G S Charak, R L Raina, S N Saproo and others.

Bharatiya Chaitanya Party (BCP): A candle light procession was organized by BCP at Mubarak Mandi today in support of Anna Hazare. Addressing the demonstrators the national general secretary of BCP, Shiv Sambyal said despite the fact that scam has emerged under present Congress led UPA Government still it is not ready to bring strong anti-corruption law.

People's Democratic Party (PDP): A candle light procession was taken by J&K PDP at Kachi Chawni against State and UPA Government and in support of Anna Hazare and his Jan Lokpal Bill. The procession was led by Vikram Singh, Girish Sharma, Pankaj Gupta, Sachin Sharma and Sonu Saini leaders of PDP. They also held a sit in dharna at Kachi Chawni.

Indian National People's Welfare Society: A rally was held at Bahu Fort near here by the activists of the society under the chairmanship of Sham Prasad Khokhar chairman of the society in support of Anna Hazare and the movement launched by him against corruption.

Central Mahajan Sabha Jammu : In its meeting here today the Sabha has extended whole hearted support to crusade launched by Anna Hazare against corruption.

Coming out in support of Anna Hazare's campaign, Rukhsana, the Kashmiri girl who was awarded the Kirti Chakra for fighting militants, today said that she will join the Gandhian in Delhi in his "war against corruption".

"I support Anna Hazare and his war against corruption. I pray for his long life and his success in his movement," Rukhsana said.

The protest demonstrations continued at Reasi for 11th day today.

PDC taking over Baglihar Power project

PDC taking over Baglihar’s O&M from NHPC on Sept 2  Internal arrangement to meet Engineers shortage

After remaining 'sidelined' for two years, the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation is taking over the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of the 450 Mega Watts Baglihar Hydroelectric Project from National Hydroelectric Projects Corporation (NHPC) on September 2, 2011.

Authoritative sources told EXCELSIOR that Government has conveyed to the NHPC authorities that the two years contract for O&M of the first ever mega State-owned project, which was signed in 2009 at a cost of Rs 150 crore, will not be extended and Power Development Corporation would takeover the O&M from it on September 2, 2011.

The PDC, which had also handled Operation and Maintenance of the project before 2009, has geared itself up to shoulder the major responsibility once again despite having some shortcomings with regard to cadre of engineers, sources informed.

At present, the PDC has four Executive Engineers, 12 Assistant Engineers and 15 Junior Engineers at Baglihar and keeping in view the shifting of daunting task of O&M, it has already set in motion the process of appointing 103 Junior Engineers in Civil, Electrical and Mechanical besides some Civil Draftsman to meet the requirement of manpower at different projects particularly at Baglihar, they said while disclosing that till the time these selections are made, the PDC will make some internal arrangements by seeking engineers from Power Development Department on deputation basis.

Like NHPC, which had further outsourced maintenance part to a company having expertise in the field, the PDC has also floated tenders for engaging companies for routine and annual maintenance of the project as the same needs experts. "September 2 is the last date for receipt of tenders, which were floated on August 10, 2011", they said while disclosing that except Salal Hydroelectric Project, the NHPC has outsourced maintenance part in all its projects.

There will be two separate companies for routine and annual maintenance and they will work under the close supervision of PDC. While annual maintenance is carried out in the months of November and December every year by shutting down the units one by one, the routine maintenance is carried out in the running conditions thus is of more importance, sources said, adding only those companies will be finalized which have the experience of handling not less than 300 Mega Watts of hydro electric project.

In order to ensure smooth functioning of the project following return of O&M, the Power Development Corporation has also entered into an agreement with the M/s Voith Siemens, which had executed the electro-mechanical works of the project. As per the arrangement, two experts of the German company will be at the disposal of PDC round the clock for assistance in automated control of the project.

"No doubt the PDC is also outsourcing maintenance part like NHPC but the return of O&M would help in saving crores of rupees, which were otherwise given to the NHPC during the past two years", they said and hoped that the Government would immediately take steps to create separate cadre of engineers for PDC so that the situation like which prompted the handing over of O&M to NHPC doesn't arise again in future.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Priceless articles in Toshakhana

Around 585 priceless articles including invaluable gems, jewellery, once the part of royal Dogra kingdom’s treasure-trove, are lying in the Toshakhana Stores (Treasuries) in Srinagar and Jammu under Double Lock.

However, 77 other items like Farad, Pashmina, Chouga Pashmina, guns, swords, Chobes, chairs and royal armoury are lying in single lock rooms in Jammu and Srinagar treasuries.

Interestingly around thirty years ago, the market price of this treasure-trove was evaluated in billions. Its present market value can just be a guess work, for want of transparency or an updated evaluation in the recent years.

The mystery has always shrouded the status of this royal treasure, the major portion which was shifted from Jammu Toshakhana to Srinagar Toshakhana under special circumstances in 1951. The successive state governments, particularly National Conference, which ruled the state for decades, have been in the dock with several prickly questions being raised at regular intervals of time as whether it is in the safe hands or not or whether this royal wealth is intact or plundered. 

According to sources in Toshakhana Organisation, on 14th of Bhadon 2008 (as per Desi calendar), under the verbal orders of the then Prime Minister, subsequently confirmed vide General Department’s order No GB-481-F/51 dated October 6, 1951, all the jewellery and gold articles of Jammu Toshakhana (Double Lock) except some heavy items were transferred from Jammu Toshakhana to Srinagar Toshakhana under the personal supervision of the then controller Tawaza in special bus with the armed guards. These boxes were covered with white cloth duly sealed and were deposited in Srinagar Treasury under Double Lock vide Treasury Officer’s receipt No 3520 dated October 8,1951 under an intimation sent to Accountant General by the Controller Tawaza vide letter No: 3199-3202 dated October 13,1951. These trunks are still lying in the Double Lock of Srinagar Treasury duly sealed, the sources stated.

Regarding the background of this treasure-trove, the official version is, “After partition the then Maharaja Han Singh left the state in turmoil leaving behind movable and immovable property including antiques etc. in the state which were later on taken over by the state government headed by the then Prime Minister of the state. The Toshakhana was under the charge of Dewan Iqbal Nath, designated as Secretary to the Sadar-e-Riyasat. The post was re-designated in 1966 as Toshakhana Officer.”
On December 15, 2006, a fire incident occurred in the building of Toshakhana stores, Mubarak Mandi Jammu which was already declared as unsafe. All the items of Double Lock except four items, which could not be removed, were shifted in strong room of Civil Secretariat building Jammu pursuant to cabinet decision No: 283/17 dated December 22, 2006 and are still lying there under proper police guard.

Notably there are two wings of Toshakhana Organization, the Srinagar wing and Jammu wing. The Srinagar wing is situated within the premises of Hospitality and Protocol Stores, Gupkar Road Srinagar and the Jammu wing is situated in the Mubarak Mandi complex Jammu.

Giving a detailed account of inventory of Toshakhana of royal Dogra kingdom since1953, a senior officer from Toshakhana organization on preferring anonymity stated, “In the Srinagar stores the costly articles of Maharaja’s regime viz., Morchall, medals, cover panes, tea sets, Sikka etc. are lying in the Double Lock room guarded by the police personnel deployed there. Inventory of all items stands recorded in a safe bound `Khata’ duly signed by the competent authority. Other items like Farad, Pashmina, Chouga Pashmina, Guns, Swords, Chobes and chairs etc. are kept in single lock room in the custody of Tehsildar Srinagar.”

According to sources, the jewellery and gold articles brought from Jammu Toshakhana Stores in 1951 are kept in Double Lock (Strong Room) of Srinagar Treasury. The boxes are duly sealed and inventories recorded in the Khata Register included Hatra Patra Tilla, Kursi Patra Chandi, Asa Chandi, Thai Chandi, Sajra Nisab etc.

From Jammu wing of Toshakhana, the valuable articles of Double Lock room have been shifted to the strong room of Civil Secretariat building Jammu in pursuance of the Cabinet decision No 283/7 dated December 22, 2006. The strong room is duly guarded by the personnel of Central Reserve Police Force.

Other items viz., Bandook, Kirch, Gupti, Neza, Shamsheer, Khokhri and box chobi etc are lying in the Toshakhana Stores, Mubarak Mandi Jammu in the single lock room under the charge of Tehsildar Jammu which is guarded by the J&K Police personnel and all the inventories stand recorded in the register.

Heavy rains lash Jammu region

Heavy rains at the fag end of the monsoons, which have been continuing since yesterday, have brought down the temperature considerably in Jammu region. However, rains disrupted life in Jammu region, especially in the plains and foothills, where heavy rains not only caused water logging and destruction of property.

An elderly woman also died after a boundary wall of her house collapse due to rains at Arnia today.Owing to heavy and intermittent rains in many parts, the water level in the river Tawi also saw a steep rise. The power supply was also affected in some parts of the city and adjoining areas. Heavy rains left many drains and nallahs choked. Water logging was also witnessed at many places in the city, which caused great inconvenience to the school going children as well as to the office goers.

Due to heavy rains, a 85 year old woman Shanti Devi of village Gandli in Arnia died as the fencing wall of the house collapsed while she was sitting besides that. 
In Jammu city, a rainfall of 82mms was recorded till 8:30 am in the morning and from 8:30 till 5:30 pm evening a rainfall of 3mms has been recorded. Whereas, outside the city  in Chatha, 8mms of rainfall has been recorded from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm in the evening.  It will be partially cloudy with isolated rainfall at some places tomorrow, according to the weather forecast.

Ramdev Aruna Roy Varun Gandhi

A mix at Ramlila: Civil judge, Aruna Roy, Varun Gandhi, Ramdev

Anna Hazare today had an unusual visitor in a civil judge at Ramlila Maidan where Aruna Roy, a critic of the Gandhian for his protest on Lokpal Bill, and BJP MP Varun Gandhi also came calling to the surprise of the protesters.

Civil Judge Ajay Pandey, who sits in the Tees Hazari court, raised eyebrows when he said, "I have been a judge at the Parliament Street court and other places and have closely seen how corruption prevails and mighty people are let off."

Pandey said he was not afraid of any consequences for coming on a public forum as he has done no wrong.

"I am one amongst the public. Why should I be afraid? When the country is here how can one remain away. I think it was my duty to come here and support the fight against corruption and I did it," he said, as Hazare’s fast entered the ninth day.

Yoga guru Ramdev was also at the Ramlila Maidan to extend support to Hazare’s movement for a strong Lokpal, nearly two-and-half months after he was evicted from the grounds in a midnight crackdown.

Ramdev said he was with the 74-year-old Gandhian for an hour to extend solidarity in his "fight against corruption" and make the system "transparent".

"The logjam(in talks) should end soon," Ramdev said.

Roy, a National Advisory Council (NAC) member, met the Gandhian along with her associates.

"We are concerned about Anna. We have old links with him," Roy told reporters here. It was Roy’s first meeting with Hazare after he began his indefinite fast on August 16.

Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said Roy is a well-wisher of Hazare and had come to meet him.

Roy had recently criticised Hazare for "deriding" democratic institutions and alleged that he was "ill-advised".

In an apparent reference to Hazare setting a deadline to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, she had said, "I think Annaji is ill-advised...Any who says my view should be the only view is wrong."

The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), with which Roy has been associated, has prepared a version of Lokpal Bill and presented it before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and

Varun Gandhi, who has given a notice in Lok Sabha for tabling Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill as a private members’ bill, sat in the protesters’ enclosure.

Wearing a green kurta and sporting a tricolour badge, the 31-year-old Philibit MP came to the ground around 8:30 am.

"I have come here as a common man," Gandhi said.

Gandhi, who has been vocal in his support for Hazare’s movement, said his visit had nothing to do with his party.

‘Peepli Live’ actor Raghubir Yadav, who is the latest from Bollywood to support Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, regaled the crowd with the popular song ‘Mehangai dayan, khaye jaat hai’ from the Aamir Khan-produced film.

And he did not miss out in sending a message.

"Peepli Live was a very small effort and venture. Thousands of peepli lives can be assimilated in this movement led by Anna Hazare," Yadav said.

Mushaira organised

Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages organised a day long Kashmiri Naatiya Mushaira at its headquarters here today. Many Kashmiri poets from across the Valley took part in it.

The Mushaira was presided over by noted Kashmiri poet and Jnanpith awardee, Prof. Rehman Rahi.

Secretary Academy, Zafar Iqbal Manhas, legal luminary, G. N Gowhar and noted journalist, G. N Khayal were also present.

In his presidential address, Prof. Rahi appreciated the Cultural Academy for organizing the Mushaira and said that such events should be conducted on regular basis.

Speaking on the occasion, Manhas said that his organization was duty bound to hold such events. He also said that organizing Mushaira was part and parcel of Academy's routine activities and would continue to remain so.

Some of the prominent poets who participated in the Naatiya Mushaira included Naseem Shifai, Aziz Hajni, Abdul Ahad Farhad, Prof. Mishal Sultanpuri, Ayub Sabir, Shahnaz Rashid, Ranjoor Tilgami and Fayaz Tilgami.

The proceedings of the event were conducted by senior editor Kashmiri, Zafar Muzaffar.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PM appeals to Anna to end fast

Even as Anna Hazare announced that his fast against corruption will continue - the 74-year-old is now on his eighth day without food - his widely-welcomed movement against corruption seems to be heading into its third act.

The Prime Minister has written to the activist, urging him to end his hunger strike. In his letter, Dr Manmohan Singh wrote, "We are concerned about your health." He also assured Anna that the activists' version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill may be considered by a Parliamentary Committee, if the Speaker of the Lok Sabha permits. This committee - the Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Personnel - has so far been scrutinising the government's version of the Bill.
The Prime Minister met with Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi this evening as the government scrambled to find a compromise that will end the stand-off with Anna and his advisors.

The first set of talks were held by Law Minister Salman Khursheed who met with Anna's close aide, Arvind Kejriwal. After the meeting, Mr Kejriwal told reporters that the government has indicated Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will lead the negotiations with the activists. Sources in the Congress also say that the party is pressuring Rahul Gandhi to write to Anna.
"Time is running out," said Mr Khursheed. "We need to find a solution fast...and a solution is possible through such talks," said the Law Minister. The government's frantic attempts to engage Team Anna is provoked by the frail condition of Anna and by the seemingly inexhaustible supply of goodwill that draws people in unprecedented numbers to his sit-in at Ramlila Maidan in the Capital. Appearing on stage this morning amid reports of his worsening health, Anna said, "I am fine...I have lost 5.5 kilos but my fight continues." Anna said he still wants his version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill to be passed in Parliament. Till that happens, he vowed, he will not end his hunger strike. But his associates indicated subtle new elasticity in their comments today.

Team Anna objects to the government's version of the Lokpal Bill, on the grounds that it provides safe passage to public servants accused of corruption. The activists who front the India Against Corruption movement have drafted their own version of the Bill. Two weeks ago, the government ignored Team Anna's bill and introduced its own in Parliament. The activists declared war and delivered on their threat that Anna would start a fast and appeal to Indians to join his demonstration against corruption.

The government had underestimated Anna's appeal in a country confronting massive graft in everyday life and in its political landscape. While many of the thousands who show up to support Anna don't know how his bill differs from the government's, they say he will help cleanse a system rabid with official improbity.

Anna's health, the fanatical response to him, and the Opposition's support for him has forced the government into a corner from which it's trying to pry its way out. In the hope of engaging with the Opposition, an all-party meeting has been set for 3.30 tomorrow afternoon. Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is being used as a channel for negotiations between all three sides - the government, the Opposition and the activists.

Among Anna's main objections to the government's draft of the Lokpal Bill is that it doesn't apply to the PM, senior judges or junior bureaucrats. While the government may agree to let the Bill apply to the Prime Minister, the activists say they could be persuaded to accept other pieces of legislation that would tackle corruption among senior judges and junior bureaucrats.

The government's version of the Lokpal Bill has been placed with the Standing Committee of Law and Justice and Personnel - a panel that combines 31 MPs from different parties. Now a Congress MP, Praveen Aron, has tabled Anna's version of the Bill before the same committee. Congress sources say his gesture was encouraged by his party because it allows the Standing Committee to deliberate Anna's Bill as well, or add features from it to the government's version.

Message for Hoteliers

Don’t use drinking water for toilets, lawns, Hoteliers asked

Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohi ud Din has stressed the need for conservation of water in view of the depleting sources of water.

Interacting with a deputation of Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation led by Mushtaq Ahmad Burza here this morning, the Minister advised them not to use drinking water in lawns and toilets and instead go for establishing shallow hand pumps in their premises.

He said the treatment cost of potable water is very high and it needs to be conserved for drinking use only.Taj gave six months time to Hotel and Restaurant owners Federation for digging shallow hand pumps in their premises for cleaning and maintenance purposes. He assured the deputation that water meters won’t be installed at their units for a period of six months and issued directions to the concerned in the Department, accordingly.

Polytechnic campus at Kargil

An impressive inaugural function of Govt. Polytechnic campus was held at Khurbuthang, here today.

The campus was inaugurated by Minister for Technical Education, Medical Education and YSS, R S Chib, in presence of CEC Kacho Ahmad Ali Khan, Executive Councilors, LAHDC Kargil.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Chib, said that the present is committed to provide the education at door step in the entire State and Technical Education is on the priority list. While emphasizing the need of eradication of Un-employment in the state in particular and the country in general for inclusive growth of the nation, he said that technical and vocational education and training has gained much more importance than any other sector.

He said that Technical Education Department is taking all steps to meet the challenge of training the 40 million people by 2022 in various long term and short term market oriented skilled courses.

Mr. Chib informed that construction of 18 new polytechnics in J&K will start soon and the efforts are afoot to start these polytechnics in the temporary accommodations at an earliest. He further informed that Centre is taking very keen interest in development of technical education in the State and Prime Minister is personally monitoring the various schemes launched for the same. The Minister gave the detailed account of the different schemes launched by the Centre and the State under Skill Development Initiative.

The function was attended by Feroz Ahmad Khan MLA Zanskar, Mohd Hassan commander Ex-MP, District Development Commissioner / CEO LAHDC Kargil, Director Technical Education, Director Youth Service and Sports, besides other senior officials from the district and the Technical Education Department, office bearers and members of LAHDC Kargil and students.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Main Bhi Anna

The theatre artists of Jammu today took a lead ahead and came up with a strong dramatic performance depicting Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption.

A handful of youth belonging to State's theatre fraternity performed a short play entitled "Main Bhi Anna' a tribute to the crusader languishing in jail while fighting for a cause against corruption.

The 30 minutes saga enacted at Mubarak Mandi beneath the idol of Mahatma Gandhi was a well knit oratory by different actors who highlighted the need for a change in the system and society for a prosperous and flourishing India.

Though the play was an impromptu presentation, hundred of evening walkers gathered at the venue and applauded the efforts of the artists in producing a scintillating drama against corruption.

In the play, Dilshad Shazi, the central character of the play attired as Anna Hazare took the centre stage with other actors joining him as 'Aam Janta' and supporting the valuable cause of saving a nation from turning into a total wreck.

Anil Kotwal, Tarun Sharma, Tarun Sudershan Vasson, Reetu Manhas, Sakshi Dogra, Mudassir Bhukhari and Saurav Verma wearing white Kurta Pyjamas and sporting orange and green bands participated in the play while presenting their parts in most stylish performances.

Dilshad Shazi's performance as Anna Hazare who sends a message of 'Ahimsa' across as a tool of strong representation against all political, social and economical ills in a democratic system was highly applauded.

The actor stressed on the need for a change in the society for an overall betterment of human beings and termed corruption as the cancer in the society.

Aaditya Bhanu directed the play which was highly appreciated by the audience and was a Nav Durga Kala Manch presentation.

Speaking on the occasion, Vikram Sharma the senior most stage artist of the state appreciated Aaditya and his team for taking up an effort through theatre. He said, since the theatre is the strongest medium of expression, Jammu artists' role in taking the lead is praiseworthy in this direction and Aaditya and his team deserves kudos for keeping the ethics of realistic theatre alive in its actual perspective".

Protests across Jammu

Spontaneous demonstrations in support of Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption and later in protest against his arrest were staged throughout the day across the city here today. As the news of his detention spread, people in small  groups started coming out of their homes in support of the campaign launched by him. There were reports of protests from other tehsils and districts also. 

Several groups of people carrying banners in support of Anna Hazare and Lokpal Bill assembled at different places and staged protest demonstrations. A joint protest by several groups and individuals including RTI Sangharsh Movement, Vichar Kranti Manch, POK Refugees and Sheikh Abdul Rehman staged a protest outside the Press Club.

The Bar Association Jammu (BAJ), decided to abstain from appearing in the courts and held a dharna outside the High Court for comprehensive Lok Pal Bill to enforce accountability of the corrupt elements, even at the highest level of administration and government hierarchy.

On this occasion, president BAJ, BS Salathia said that government should not attempt to suppress the non-violent and peaceful mode airing the genuine public demand for a comprehensive Lok Pal. On this occasion general secreatry BAJ Vikram Sharma also addressed the gathering.

In the demonstration number of senior advocates were present including office bearers Adv MU Salaria vice-president BAJ, Parimoksh Seth Joint Secreatry BAJ, Sandeepa Samyal Treasures besides Advocate Rohan Nanda President YLA and Nitin Gupta General Secretary YLA were also present.

Due to work suspend by the BAJ, the work in High Court Jammu Wing and subordinate courts Janipur Court complex also suffered. 
Social activist Om Prakash Sharma and his supporters, criticised the state government for denying them the permission to hold a protest  at Satwari Chowk in support of Anna Hazare’s Amran Anshan at New Delhi. The supporters burnt the effigy of UPA government to show their resenment against the corruption.

Several supporters of Hazare blocked the traffic at Satwari Chowk on Jammu-Srinagar national highway and raised slogans against the UPA government. They lambasted the government for putting forth a ‘weak’ Lokpal Bill in Parliament without taking prime minister and judges under its ambit.

“We will intensify the protests if Anna is not released. We will court arrest in  large number as Anna is a face of the common man,” said Om Prakash Sharma, who sat on a fast-unto-death at the Satwari Chowk, holding Hazare’s picture and the tricolour.

Nirbhao Nirbhay Oraganization (NNO), also held a strong protest at Satwari Chowk against central government over the arrest of Anna Hazare. The activists burnt the effigy of UPA government.

The activists alleged that the government was saving the corrupt by not agreeing on the conditions set by Anna Hazare in the Jan Lokpal Bill. They also condemned the arrest of Anna saying that it reminded them of Emergency Days. “We demand that Anna should be released immediately. Government should tender an apology to the people of country and Anna for his arrest,” NNO president S Harjeet Singh said that very soon, the protests will pick up across Jammu city. Some protesters held placards reading: "We support Anna Hazare!"

Spontaneous demonstrations were also reported from Satwari locality, Old City areas and several other places.
Purani Mandi Shopkeeper’s Association also protested against the detention of civil society activist Anna Hazare.
In the evening, Narwal residents including women and children, held a candle march and blocked the road to show their solidarity with the campaign against corruption. Candle march was also held at Purani Mandi which passed via Old Hospital Road, City Chowk and culminated at Raghunath Mandir. Nai Basti residents in large number also held a candle march at Satwari Chowk and sang national Anthem.

In Bhaderwah, the activists of  various political parties staged a protest demonstrations in the premises of the historical Sari Bazaar and raised pro Anna and anti government slogans and also brunt the effigy of the UPA government . When the news of arrest of Anna reached at Bhaderwah,  civil society members came out of their homes and stopped traffic movement near Lakshmi Naryian Chowk where they addressed the huge gathering of the protestors which included Daya Krishan Kotwal and Masth Nath Yogi . After that they submitted memorandum to SDM Bhaderwah in his chamber demanding immediate passing of Lok Pal Bill and release of Anna .They said that arrest of Anna is unconstitutional.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Independence Reassessment

Conventionally, the nation celebrates today the ushering in of another year of independence. Hindsight reveals a big difference in spiritual sense between the mood of people on August 15, 1947 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of free India, lowered the Union Jack over the ramparts of Red Fort and hoisted the Tricolour in its place, and 63 years later when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hoisted the same flag at the same venue on 15th August 2011. On the day when Nehru for the first time hoisted the Tricolour, the large Delhi crowds sat or stood on the spacious Red Fort grounds and sang with him in great gusto "Jana Gana Mana …. Those crowds had hopes bubbling in their mind and the glow of impending happiness in their eyes. They were poor and ordinary people of India who believed that with the dawn of independence they would be pulled out of the morass of misery, poverty and wretchedness. Today 63 years after that eventful day, the third generation since the day of independence looks at the fanfare in their televisions as pastime and the drama enacted by those whom they returned to power and not necessarily an event of immense historical past and prospective future. That is how ordinary Indians have gradually lost faith in much that the rhetoric of our first generation of leaders promised and enunciated. Today we are four times the numbers in 1947 but with nearly 30 per cent of us below poverty line. And big sharks are eating away the food which the government provides to the BPL populace on subsidized rates to alleviate their misery. The shark would bite one to death trying to snatch the ill-gotten wealth from its mouth. Today 63 years later, we have the largest number of street beggars in the world, excluding nearly 50 million mendicants roaming the streets as sadhus. We have innumerable spiritual icons sitting like deities on their celestial thrones. The rich and powerful few feign to be their protégés while miserable millions pay them obeisance like sinners and culprits. At the end of the day these icons turn out to be gangsters, mafia leaders, rapists and money launders. In the commercial hub of India, namely Mumbai, 14 per cent people are born, live and die under roofless slums along the streets. More than half of our female population is illiterate; more than 50 per cent or our rural population defecates in open and pollute the environment; 30 percent of travelers in Indian railways sit or sleep like wretched canine in the toilets or on the floor in corridors or the small luggage space in the compartments. Our farmers commit suicide being unable to repay the loans to money-lenders or the banks. And about scams the less said the better.

But this is not the entire picture. There is the other side. We are a nuclear power but pledged not to use the dirty device, even if an entire community is extirpated from its homeland, or the Parliament and the state assembly are attacked by external elements. We keep the count of slaps inflicted by our enemy on our cheek but refuse to react under the rolled gold principle of ahimsa parmo dharma. We have the world's wealthiest creamy class of society that has stashed all its wealth in Swiss banks so as to make India number one country of the world with exported cash. Those running the government are partisans to tax evasion and theft of national assets. How will they allow Lokpal Bill to have the jurisdiction of making them accountable? We have multiplied our universities, professional institutions, colleges and schools several hundred times than their number in 1947. It is a different matter that our rate of educated unemployed is the highest in the world, and the crime among the youth between 18 and 30, too, is the highest in the world. It is true that our growth rate has jumped from bare 3 per cent in 1940s and 50s to 9 per accent in 2011, but we have not a glass of unadulterated milk or a bottle of uncontaminated water. Remember what Winston Churchill had said in a parliamentary debate on the Bill for Transfer of Power to India in 1947 as member of opposition. He said," Gentlemen, those to whom u want to transfer power are men of straw, they will kill a fellow countryman for just a bottle of water." We abused, humiliated and castigated Churchill for demeaning us and we remain true to our salt.

We need to do some introspection and soul-searching. Has the Westminister type of democracy suited us and will it have the potential to deliver the goods that we want to be delivered? Is fake and superimposed multiculturalism a gospel truth to be adhered to despite the havoc it is bringing to the Indian nation? Will we continue to use religion as instrument of state oppression and discrimination just to remain in power by whipping up sentimentality? Will the green terror get minimized, neutralized or render important by sensitizing it to color terror syndrome? Apart from economic difficulties, we are beset with a host of social and political problems; ethnic, regional, sub-regional, identity, tribalism and mass hysterics. Neither the constitution answers these issues adequately and equitably nor does our leadership have the innovative faculty to rise up to the need of the hours. Dynamism has got submerged under greed for material affluence and power, which in a heterogeneous society like India can come easily through immorality and turpitude. The bruised and battered nation cannot wait too long to see its house restored to order. A majority rule is no rule unless it has the resilience of carrying the opposition or the minority with it by building national consensus through persuasion and through patient and sympathetic handling.

The nation cannot accept re-incarnation of democratic autocrats and liberal conventionalists. No political party, howsoever steeped in history and legend, can thrive on the antics of pot calling the kettle black. So long as a ruling party in this country does not consider the opposition its equal, its days in power are limited. We are still far away from the niceties of a true secular democracy howsoever we may lionize ourselves. Farsi couplet when translated runs as this: A puritanical person told a harlot that she drinks and had abandoned virtue and relegated to vice. The harlot said she was what she is but was the questioner precisely what he poses to be?

Politics of Economics

Inflation, it is said, is the bane of the common man today. Inflation is basically the incremental amount you need to pay to procure the same set of goods and services that you would have procured cheaper say a year, two years or even a decade earlier. Political parties, especially in the opposition too are experiencing inflation - albeit of a different kind. With the same formula and effort of the last decade, they find that their returns are diminishing; their space is shrinking. The driver of this new inflation is the Congress leadership team, which is silently changing the rules of the game.

Since India's economic liberalisation began in 1991 the social segment that has seen the greatest opportunity for growth is the lower middle class and the middle class. Their dynamic growth has meant that this segment has a continuously growing and changing list of aspirations. This class is the bhadralok that influences the opinion of many vocal sections of the society. V.P. Singh had cast his charm on them in the late 80s and the BJP in the 90s. The combine of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi has attempted to neutralise this phenomenon with a conscious effort to reconvert this nomadic tribe of voters to the Congress fold.

The 2009 election threw a decisive verdict in favour of the Congress led-UPA. The undercurrent was however to return to one of the old governing principles of Indian democracy - a strong Centre led by a strong centrist party. While our Constitution enshrines the Centre with greater powers, coalition politics in the last one and a half decades ensured that ruling parties at the Centre left many crucial portfolios and policy making roles to regional allies, who often did not rise above parochial interests.

The mandate for the BJP in 1998, 1999 was also essentially for a stronger Centre, but the party could not seize the opportunity. On the contrary the party went for a blind pursuit of allies, creating a government with a weak Centre and often surrendering crucial portfolios to its allies. A Congress party with only 145 seats in '04 ensured that the defence minister was from their party, while the BJP with 182 seats in '98 and '99 could not do so. The pursuit of power thus sometimes dilutes a focus on policy and governance that a strong Centre can give.

The Sonia-Manmohan combine has attempted to solve this dichotomy by uncoupling the process of creating a stable party and government and the process of creating a policy environment. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi focused exclusively on strengthening the party apparatus while the administration has been left to a policy-driven management which used the growing clout of the party to shape decisions. The BJP did the opposite; it used its growing power to attract allies that impacted its base and did not find means to increase its hold over policy-making.

An ability to enforce policy consensus while strengthening the party organisation is a combination that can prove lethal for any opposition. While the Congress does have a focus on Bharat Nirman, the fact is that in an economy where the share of agriculture is shrinking, the party has turned its attention to urban and semi-urban population of India. The two ministries that directly impact the growing urban and semi urban population are the Urban Development Ministry and the Human Resources Development Ministry. Both have made the right noises since the government came to power. Replacing old pipelines, providing new sleek buses, providing assistance for building flyovers, creating new universities and scrapping board examinations are some of those. The new year will see a whole host of measures such as the new tax code, converting the bill for Equal opportunities Commission into legislation and the possible passage of the judicial accountability bill. Several initiatives taken by the government such as the unique identity mission will have long-term impacts and help the ruling party strengthen its hold over the urban and rural poor alike. The Food Security bill is another example.

Politically the Bihar election is expected to help the Congress party consolidate its position as a kingmaker. The party came third in several seats in the recently concluded by polls in Bihar. Importantly, many backward class leaders of smaller parties like the LJP joined the party strengthening it further. This would enable the Congress party to cross into a respectable 20 to 30-seat tally from the current single digit score. With greater numbers on its side the Congress party could look to wean the JD (U) from the NDA and whittle the size of the NDA further. The Congress party is likely to work hard towards strengthening its position in the state of Tamil Nadu - the Youth Congress saw its enrolment drive lead to an all time high number of 13 lakh new enrolments. This is another state where the Congress will drive a tough bargain with an existing ally.

In the '90s, P.V. Narasimha Rao presided over a declining Congress and that offered ready space for a host of opposition parties. Now, they will have to battle hard for that very space. Inflation! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

6.36 lakh Piligrims Visit Amarnath Yatra 2011

Forty-six days long annual pilgrimage to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji, located at a height of 13,500 feet from the sea level in South Kashmir Himalayas, concluded today with Mahant Deependera Giri carrying holy mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva, joined by about 500 devotees, performing darshan in the shrine.

On the occasion of Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan, the final day of annual yatra, about 1,000 pilgrims today paid obeisance inside the holy cave shrine of Lord Shiva. Governor NN Vohra, who happened to be the chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and SASB CEO R K Goyal also performed prayers in the shrine today.

A record number of 6.36 lakh yatris had darshan of Lord Shiva’s holy Ice Lingam during about one and a half month yatra this year. The pilgrimage had started on June 29. There was heavy rush of pilgrims during first 20 days when number of the yatris having darshan daily ranged between 25,000 to 30,000. The holy Ice Lingam remained in full bloom during about a month after which it started melting.

However, with the rise in number of pilgrims, the yatra also witnessed number of 107 deaths this year with 68 of them breathing their last due to cardiac and pulmonary failures. Five porters and two security personnel were among those killed during the yatra period.

During 2010, 68 pilgrims had died while the number was 45 in 2009.

Official sources attributed increase in number of deaths during the yatra to massive rise in rush of the pilgrims during initial period when a large number of unregistered pilgrims visited the shrine.

While hardly 3 lakh yatris had registered themselves for the yatra through Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Yes Bank and some Co-operative Banks for the pilgrimage, 6.36 lakh pilgrims performed darshan. Nearly 3.36 lakh unregistered yatris undertook the pilgrimage. The SASB had covered registered yatris as well as porters for Rs 1 lakh insurance cover.

While 3.50 lakh pilgrims reached holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji from tougher but shortest 14 kilometers Baltal track, 2.84 lakh yatris opted for traditional 34 kilometers Pahalgam-Chandanwari route.

As against 6.36 lakh yatris performing darshan during this year’s annual pilgrimage, the previous best figure of 5.33 lakh of 2008 was surpassed. In 2010, 4.55 lakh yatris had visited the holy cave shrine while the number was 3.81 lakh in 2009.

In 2001 when the SASB had taken over affairs of the shrine, 1.19 lakh yatris had paid obeisance to Lord Shiva’s cave shrine while the number came down to 1.10 lakh in 2002 but went up to 1.70 lakh in 2003. The number of yatris recorded a sudden jump to 4 lakh in 2004 but it again came down to 3.88 lakh in 2005, 3.47 lakh in 2006 and 2.96 lakh in 2007.

During Amarnath land row agitation in 2008, the highest number of 5,33,368 yatris had visited the holy cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas. This year, the number went up by 1.03 lakh.

Sources said security forces, para-military personnel and police had made impressive tight security arrangements for the pilgrimage right from Lakhanpur to the cave shrine at a height of 13,500 feet from the sea level and performed the task of providing security cover to a large number of pilgrims under extreme tough terrain and weather conditions.

Army personnel, who had been assigned the security of peaks including the cave shrine, did an extra ordinary job braving chilly weather and other difficult tasks. Not even a single militancy-related incident was reported on either of the two tracks or any other place connected to the yatra during 46 days period, sources said.

Governor NN Vohra, the chairman of the SASB and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah constantly monitored yatra arrangements and security.

However, the number of 107 deaths during the pilgrimage remained a matter of concern for the Shrine Board as well as the pilgrims. There was a strong opinion among the pilgrims as well as the local people that the Board should upgrade medical facilities on the tracks and the cave shrine to prevent, or at least, minimize the number of deaths.

Meanwhile, the ‘Chhari Mubarak’ of Lord Shiva reached the Amarnath ji shrine from Panchtarni halting station this morning after a night halt.

Led by Mahant Deependera Giri, custodian of holy mace, hundreds of devotees and Sadhus accompanied it.

A special prayer was offered on the occasion of ‘Shravan Purnima’ to pay obeisance to ice-lingam of Lord Shiva – coinciding with Raksha Bandhan – to mark the conclusion of the annual yatra.

Governor N N Vohra, Mrs Usha Vohra and Chief Executive Officer of Shrine Board R K Goyal also took part in the prayers at the cave shrine.

After the traditional prayers, the ‘Chhari Mubarak’ was taken back to Panchtarni for a night halt.

The holy mace is scheduled to reach Chandanwari tomorrow and Pahalgam on Monday on its return journey.

‘Pujan’ and ‘Visarjan’ ceremonies would be performed on the banks of river Lidder in Pahalgam on Monday while the Chhari would return to its abode at Dashnami Akhara in Srinagar on the same day.

The Governor, expressing satisfaction over the smooth conduct of this year’s yatra, complimented all the concerned Departments of the State Government, Army, CRPF, BSF, State police, BSNL, J&K Bank, and all other concerned organisations, and particularly the people of the State, for making the pilgrimage a satisfying experience for thousands of pilgrims who visited the holy shrine this year from various parts of the country, over the past 45 days.

He had a word of appreciation for the close coordination, which had been maintained among security forces, civil and police administration, all the stakeholders, local population and the Shrine Board in ensuring a smooth and peaceful Yatra.

As Chairman of the Shrine Board, the Governor had been monitoring all important aspects of the yatra management on daily basis and personally reviewing the arrangements for the pilgrimage by visiting the base camps, camps enroute and the holy cave.

He had earlier issued strict instructions for launching a time-bound post-yatra cleanliness drive at the base camps, camps enroute and in the holy cave area for ensuring absolute purity of the entire yatra area.

In this context, the Governor particularly visited Panchtarni and Sheshnag camps today to personally review the results of the cleanliness drive launched in the yatra area.

Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of the sanitation measures, the Governor asked the CEO of the Shrine Board to ensure the disposal of all garbage by August 20, so that the entire yatra area is free from all solid wastes well before the onset of ensuing winter season.

Mr Goyal said that 6.36 lakh yatris paid their obeisance at the holy cave Shrine during this year’s pilgrimage, which had commenced on June 29, simultaneously from Baltal and Nunwan base camps, ensuring equitable economic benefits to the local stakeholders residing in Sonamarg-Baltal and Pahalgam-Chandanwari areas.

Referring to various new initiatives taken during the Yatra-2011, Mr Goyal said that the Shrine Board has been according very high priority to the implementation of sanitation and related measures for the preservation of the environment at the base camps and at all the locations enroute the cave shrine and both the yatra routes.

He said that the two Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs), based on Eco-friendly technology/Biological treatment, at the Baltal and Nunwan base camps, yielded very encouraging outcomes.

Mr Goyal added that the toilet/bath facilities were significantly augmented at Sheshnag, Panchtarni and holy cave camps, with over 250 additional toilets.

He further said that all the toilets were dosed with eco-friendly bacteria on daily basis, for decomposition of the faecal matter.

The CEO disclosed that like last year, all the registered pilgrims were provided free of cost Accident Insurance Cover of Rs one lakh this year as well.

He said that the accidental insurance cover was also provided, with the support from the State Government, to all the registered labourers deployed during the yatra, as well as for the pony owners, in case their horse/pony was involved in an accidental death.

This scheme was aimed at benefiting about 20,000 labourers and 7,000 pony owners, almost all of whom belonged to the economically weaker sections of the society.

Mr Goyal disclosed that insurance claims of pony owners are being processed expeditiously and hoped that beneficiary pony owners would receive the insurance claim in the coming weeks, after completion of all procedural formalities.

Dwelling on other activities this year, the CEO stated that the helicopter services were made available on both Baltal-Panchtarni and Pahalgam-Panchtarni routes, at reasonable fares.

The CEO added that, at the instance of the Governor, several steps were taken for the promotion of tourism industry in the J&K State, through enhanced and equitable distribution of helicopter seats among the registered Tour and Travel Agents and their Associations (based at Srinagar and Jammu), Hotel Associations of Kashmir and Jammu Divisions, House Boat Owners Association and Pahalgam Hotel Association.

These collaborative arrangements were widely appreciated by all the stakeholders.

Mr Goyal added that mobile phone connectivity had been made operational by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes of the entire yatra area up to the holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji this year 10 days ahead of the commencement of the yatra, which not only enabled the yatris to contact their families back home while undertaking the pilgrimage through mountainous tracks but helped a great deal in day to day management of the Yatra.

The Board had also installed Digital Satellite Phones at the crucial camps at Sheshnag, Panchtarni and the holy cave, which proved to be extremely useful for real time monitoring of the Yatra arrangements as also the movement of Yatris.

He informed that round the clock Control Room was established in the CEO’s office to monitor all movements and to particularly watch the weather reports.

Despite repeated Advisories and issue of Do’s and Don’ts to the Yatris, the CEO regretted that as many as 107 Yatris lost their lives due to medical reasons, the prime among them being cardiac arrests and pulmonary failures.

Mr Goyal stated that the Shrine Board had provided all required financial help and logistical support for the medical treatment of those injured, for the transportation of dead bodies to various parts of the country, and in arranging evacuation, wherever required.

30000 visit Budha Amarnath Shrine

Over 30,000 pay obeisance at Budha Amarnath, hundreds visit Thajewara shrine

Over 30,000 pilgrims along with Swami Vishwanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj the custodian of holy mace of Lord Shiva paid obeisance at Budha Amarnath Temple in Mandi teshil of Poonch district today.

The Chhari Mubarak which was led by Swami Ji from Dashnami Akhara Poonch on August 11 morning had reached the Budha Amarnath shrine late in the evening on the same day.

The Chhari Mubarak was accompanied by thousands of devotees and Sadhus drawn from different parts of the State. After paying obeisance in the ancient temple of Lord Shiva at Budha Amarnath, the Chhari Mubarak left for Dashnami Akhara Poonch where Swami Ji will deliver religious discourses tomorrow.

With the performance of darshan by holy mace at Budha Amarnath the 12 day long yatra of Budha Amarnath which started on August 2 culminated today.

During the 12 days yatra one lakh devotees drawn from different parts of the country visited the Budha Amarnath shrine and paid obeisance there.

The authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims. Over 80 langers were organized for the yatris enroute and Poonch by various social and religious organizations.

According to reports hundreds of pilgrims drawn from different parts of the State today visited the Pracheen Amarnath shrine in Thajewara (Bijbehara) in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and paid obeisance there. Besides the Kashmiri Pandits from different parts of the Valley, the newly appointed migrant employees and devotees drawn from different parts of Jammu also visited the holy shrine to offer the prayers there. The district administration Anantnag and Prabandhak Committee Bijbehara had made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims.

It may be recalled that thousands of pilgrims used to visit the holy shrine of Lord Shiva at Thajewara before the militancy in 1989. However, no pilgrim could visit the shrine for over one and half decade of turmoil where the dharamshalla and temple was also damaged by the militants.

But after the renovation of temple some years back by the Prabandhak Committee the yatra to this ancient shrine was restored and for the first time in last 22 years of turmoil hundreds of pilgrims visited the shrine this year.

Meanwhile the festival of Sawan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan was celebrated with traditional religious fervour and gaiety in the State today. There was beeline of devotees in Shiv Mandir, Jammu, Shiv Mandir near Tawi bridge, Shiv Mandir Canal and Aap Shamboo Mandir, Roop Nagar, since early in the morning.

In connection with celebration of Raksha Bandhan and Sawan Purnima a grand function was also held at Sanjeevani Kuteer, Krishna Satsangh Bhawan, Bohri where a large number of devotees participated.

On the occasion Anand Swami Pran Nath Bhat Gareeb commonly known as Bhai Jee gave a thought provoking lecture and stressed on unity and Shiv devotion. He said Lord Shiva is finally source of joy and devotion who liberates devotees from deep miseries and bondages of world.

The Sawan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festival were celebrated at Kathua, Hiranagar, Bani, Basohli, Udhampur, Ramban, Samba and other parts of Jammu region also with fervour and gaiety.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Holy Mace to reach Amarnath

6.35 lakh yatris perform darshan Chhari Mubarak to reach cave today

The holy mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva reached Panchtarni from Sheshnag this afternoon.

Led by Mahant Deependra Giri, custodian of Lord Shiva’s holy mace, hundreds of devotees and Sadhus accompanied it. The holy mace had reached Sheshnag yesterday evening from Chandanwari and after traditional Chhari Poojan at Sheshnag it left for Panchtarni, the last camp before the holy cave situated at an altitude of 13500 feet in South Kashmir district of Anantnag early this morning.

Soon after reaching Panchtarni, Chhari Poojan was performed by Mahant Ji. Braving the heavy rain fall, hundreds of Saints and devotees besides jawans of CRPF and J&K Police participated in Chhari Poojan.

The holy mace will leave for cave shrine early tomorrow morning on the occasion of Shravan Purnima to pay its obeisance to Ice Shivlingam of Lord Shiva. After the traditional Pooja -Archana in the holy cave, it will return to Panchtarni late in the afternoon. After a night halt at Panchtarni, the holy mace will reach Chandanwari on August 14. Next day it will move towards Pahalgam where after the Chhari Poojan at the bank of river Lidder, Chhari Visarjan (immersion of holy mace) will be performed on August 15. This will be followed by a Bhandara for Sadhus and devotees.

With this, the 46 -day long Swami Amarnath Ji yatra which started on June 29, will culminate.

The Chhari Mubarak had left Dashnami Akhara Srinagar on August 8 for holy cave and reached Pahalgam the same day.

Enroute to Pahalgam Chhari Poojan was performed at Durga Nag temple, Srinagar, Pampore, Awantipora, Bijbehara, Nagbal Anantnag, Tirath Raj Martand (Mattan) Aishmuqam and Pahalgam.

Meanwhile, 700 pilgrims performed darshan at holy cave today. With 6,34,360 yatris performing darshan in holy cave till late last night the number has reached to 6,35,060, a Yatra Officer said. This is the record number of pilgrims visiting the holy cave so far.

He said out of them 2,84,201 yatris have visited via traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari track while 3,39,154 took shortest Baltal route.

Out of 6,34, 360 pilgrims who had visited holy cave, 6.30 lakh have returned to their home States while the rest were on their way back. The pilgrims, who paid obeisance in holy cave yesterday, were on their way to Pahalgam and Baltal base camps, he added.

The Yatra Officer said 444 pilgrims left for holy cave from twin base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal early this morning. Out of them only 21 pilgrims left via Nunwan-Chandanwari track while 423 left via Baltal route.

He said the heavy rains lashed both the tracks right from Baltal as well as Pahalgam to holy cave today but there was no disturbance in the movement of yatra which continued smoothly.

As tomorrow being the last day of darshan, no Yatri left for holy cave from Jammu today. It may be recalled that last batch of 10 pilgrims had left for holy cave from here yesterday morning. 

22000 teachers posts vacant in jammu kashmir

National Panthers Party MLA from Ramnagar and working chairman of the party Harshdev Singh today claimed that over 22,000 posts of teachers were lying vacant in the State and School Education authorities have failed to take cognizance of the matter.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Singh alleged a break down in the Educational set up in the State. He said that thousands of Government schools were facing acute deficiency of teaching staff with Government maintaining a criminal silence over the issue. Mr Singh said remote area schools were the major sufferers and had almost become defunct due to staff paucity and non-availability of teaching faculty.

The NPP leader pointed the State Government itself admitted in the meeting of Project Appraisal Board held in Delhi in June this year that 13020 posts of teachers were vacant at the Elementary level, with 8014 vacancies in Upper Primary schools and 4916 vacancies in Primary schools. Apart from this, more than 8000 vacancies of Masters, Headmasters and Lecturers were available at Secondary level including High and Higher Secondary schools. The figures provided that schools are facing overall shortage of nearly 40 % teachers, Mr Singh added.

Mr Singh alleged that Government has failed to create posts of teachers/ lecturers and provide adequate staff in schools. He also alleged that Government has failed to launch RMSA (Rashtriya Madhamik Shiksha Abhiyan) in the State though it was started in the country in 2008. He sought immediate intervention of Chief Minister into the matter and said that studies of the students has been badly hit in the State.