Envoys from 16 nations, including US, on two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir

starting today; will meet L-G GC Murmu, civil society members

New Delhi: US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster will be among envoys of 16 countries who will undertake a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir starting Thursday, officials said.

The Delhi-based envoys will fly to Srinagar on Thursday morning before going to Jammu, the winter capital of the newly created Union Territory, for an overnight stay. They will meet Lt Governor GC Murmu as well as civil society members, they said.

Besides the United States, the delegation will include diplomats from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Norway, Maldives, South Korea, Morocco and Nigeria, among others.

Brazil’s envoy André Aranha Correa do Lago was also scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir. However, he backed out because of his preoccupation in Delhi, the officials said on Wednesday.

Envoys from 16 nations, including US, on two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir starting today; will meet L-G GC Murmu, civil society members
Representational image. Getty Images

The European Union (EU) countries are understood to have conveyed that they would visit the Union Territory on a different date and are also believed to have stressed on meeting three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti – who are under detention.

According to the officials, the envoys travelling on Thursday will meet civil society members and receive a briefing on the security situation from various agencies.

“On the same day, they will be taken to Jammu where they would meet Lt Governor Murmu and other officials before returning to the National Capital on Friday,” they added.

The officials said the envoys of a number of countries had requested the government for a visit to Kashmir to get a first-hand account of the situation prevailing in the Valley following the abrogation of certain provisions of Article 370.

The move is a part of India’s diplomatic outreach to rebut Pakistan’s propaganda against it on the Kashmir issue.

This will be the second visit of a foreign delegation to Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre’s move to revoke the state’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, a delegation of 23 EU MPs was taken on a two-day visit to assess the situation in the Union Territory by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, a Delhi-based think tank.

However, the government had distanced itself from the visit of the delegation. Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy had informed Parliament that the European parliamentarians were on a “private visit”.

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Barring five top leaders, all detainees in MLA Hostel set to be released: Report

Srinagar: Political detainees being held at the MLA Hostel in Srinagar barring five leaders are likely to be released by the Jammu and Kashmir administration in batches in January,The Indian Express reported.

The Indian Express quoted the sources as having said that the five leaders unlikely to be released soon are Peoples’ Conference chief Sajad Lone, National Conference general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, former IAS officer and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement president Shah Faesal, senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar and PDP youth wing president Waheed ur Rehman Para.

“Barring these five individuals, others are likely to be released in batches slowly. At least six individuals are scheduled to be released this week subject to their signing of release bonds,” a source in the administration, who did not wish to be named, said.

As on date, 26 persons are under detention at the MLA Hostel including PDP’s Ajaz Mir, NC’s Salman Sagar, Showkat Ganai, Ali Mohammad Dar and Altaf Kuloo and Awami Ittihad Party lawyer and social activist Bilal Sultan. They were moved to their current location from the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre citing logistical and security concerns in the last week of November. In the first week of August, a total of 58 political detainees were housed at the Sher-e-Kashmir centre, reported The Indian Express.

Many individuals were detained in the first few weeks of August from across the Valley. “Approximately 800 or so are still under detention all over Kashmir,” a source said. Besides this, about 200 individuals are held in jails in other states, the source added.

Those in the MLA Hostel were picked up under clauses of preventive detention in the wake of the situation in Kashmir post August 5, the day the Central government revoked the special status accorded to the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, and decided to split it into two union territories.

Further, there is no move to release the three former Chief Ministers – Farooq Abdullah currently detained at his Gupkar Road residence under the Public Safety Act, Omar Abdullah detained at Hari Niwas and Mehbooba Mufti under detention at a government building in Maulana Azad Road, the sources said.

On Monday, five political detainees — Former PDP MLA Zahoor Mir, Bashir Mir of PDP, Dr Ghulam Nabi of National Conference, former MLA and NC leader Ishfaq Jabbar, and former legislator Yasir Reshi — were released from the MLA hostel.

Those released from SKICC and the MLA Hostel earlier include Mohammad Syed Akhoon of National Conference, Imran Ansari of Peoples’ Conference, Hilal Shah of Congress, Noor Mohammad Sheikh and Yawar Mir of the PDP, and Ghulam Hassan Mir of the Democratic Party (Nationalist), reported The Indian Express.

PM Narendra Modi condoles demise of Nagaland Assembly Speaker

PM Narendra Modi condoles demise of Nagaland Assembly Speaker

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday condoled the death of Nagaland Assembly Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu, describing him as a diligent leader who was devoted towards development of the state.

Yhoshu (67) died on Monday at a hospital in Mumbai after battling lung cancer for several months.

“Anguished by the demise of the Speaker of Nagaland’s Assembly Vikho-o Yhoshu. He was a diligent leader who devoted his life towards the progress of Nagaland. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in these moments of sadness,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and undergoing treatment in Mumbai since then. He is survived by wife and 10 children.

Jammu & Kashmir Block Development Council polls on October 24

In a major push to emancipate new grassroots-level leadership in Jammu & Kashmir, the government on September 29 announced the polls for the Block Development Councils (BDCs) on October 24 across the State.

“Every District Development Board will have these elected BDC chairpersons as members, besides MLAs and MPs. At the district level, these Chairpersons have an important role in the development work of the district under the Panchayat Raj Act 1989 and rules of 1996,” said J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar.

The much-awaited elections will see 26,629 elected Panchs and Sarpanchs elect 310 Block Development Chairpersons in the first phase. This will be followed by polls for 22 District Level Chairpersons for the District Development Boards. The results will be declared on the same day.

“Whenever any candidate or political party approaches us for facilitating a level playing field, we are here to facilitate it,” Mr. Kumar said.

Panchayat elections were held in J&K in November 2018, and were boycotted by the two main regional parties — the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party — over the issue of Articles 370 and 35A. The elections assume significance with all the top leaders of the regional party remaining under detention after the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

The elections, which will empower grassroots leaders, will create a new political class in J&K. An official said a Block-level Chairperson will have a Block Development Officer as his secretary and the District Development Board Chairperson will work closely with the District Deputy Commissioner in implementing and allocating money for development work at the district and Block levels.

The government has reserved 172 seats for Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes. Also, 33% seats have been earmarked for women Panchs and Sarpanchs.

“Of 316 Block elections, two Blocks — one in Kulgam and one in Srinagar, have no elected panches or sarpanches. There are four blocks where no women panches and sarpanches are available for reserved seats. Thus, there shall be no elections there,” said Mr. Kumar.

Meanwhile, the government said there were 12,776 vacant seats in J&K.

“We have to prepare fresh electoral rolls before holding polls for the vacant seats. There will be around 2% new voters. Unless they are there, we can’t have fresh elections,” said Mr. Kumar.

Mr. Kumar said two panches, one in Baramulla and one in Kupwara, have been detained under Section 107 during the recent clampdown. ( The Hindu)

Everything is normal, orders that are shared on social media are invalid: J&K Governor SP Malik

Srinagar: The governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik, said Tuesday that the “government” orders circulating in social networks in Kashmir in recent days were invalid.

“There has not been a valid government order. All orders are invalid, ”said Governor Malik on the sidelines of a function at SKICC in Srinagar.

He said the rumors spread like a forest fire in Kashmir.

“If a small incident occurs in Lal Chowk, I receive news from Governor House that there has been an explosion in Lal Chowk. Such is the rumor in Kashmir, ”he said.

He called on people not to pay attention to rumors that everything was fine and normal in the state.

Since recent days, several government orders have been distributed on social networks that add to the speculation that the Center could have plans to eliminate Article 35A.

These speculations have dominated the speech in Kashmir in recent days after the Center decided to rush the valley to another 100 companies of central armed paramilitary forces.

Ready to go to jail for protecting Article 35A: Mehbooba Mufti

Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief, Mehbooba Mufti, on Sunday said she is ready to go to jail for protecting Article 35A which talks about Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Addressing party workers on PDP”s foundation day, Mufti said: “Anybody trying to fiddle with Article 35A would be playing with dynamite. It would have such disastrous consequences that nobody would be able to control.”

She said her party would stand like a rock for the protection of state”s special status and that she was ready to go to jail while protecting the same.

Mufti also criticized former Chief Minister and Vice President of the National Conference (NC), Omar Abdullah, for saying that the decision of the Supreme Court on Article 35A would be accepted by the NC.

“No tinkering of any sort by anybody with Article 35A would be acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she asserted. (IANS)