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Kashmir India’s crown, centre should help in development: Sayeed

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Thursday said Kashmir is India’s crown and the central government should help in make it prosperous.

“Kashmir is India’s crown and there is no other way to look after it than paying attention towards it and helping its overall progress and development,” Sayeed said here.

He was speaking at the flagging-off ceremony of four new trains by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Sayeed said it was his desire to see Kashmir gets connected with national railway network.

“Railway is an important mode of integration and it is my dream to see rail from here going directly to Delhi. It will not only facilitate travel but help in bridging emotional gaps as well,” the chief minister said.

Sayeed also said the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which is the only surface link of landlocked valley with outside, gets blocked usually due to bad weather and rail will provide alternate mode of connecting the state with rest of the country.

“There will be hassles, but you will have to do it and a structured dialogue with state’s and centre’s representatives can sort out any hiccups in connecting the rail network here with national capital,” he said referring to Prabhu.

“If we succeed in connecting Kashmir with Delhi through railways, it will be a turning point in the history of the country and the state.”

He said the railway people have worked in the state in “most hard and difficult times”. “I know that and I appreciate that.”

The chief minister said railway can become an important medium in boosting economy of the state. “Our Fruit industry and handicrafts can reach to outside state easily. We can have local ethnic products which can find their way in national and even global market.”

“We can have Rajasthan style ‘Palace on Wheels’ here, after all Kashmir is a paradise and proper rail network can attract more and more tourists in the state and generate more employment opportunities in tourism and railways,” he said.

Sayeed also asked the central government to provide jobs to those left-out people whose land has come under railway track in the state.

(IANS)

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Post-Pulwama, Kashmir Helpline Gets Over 500 Calls

About the challenges Ladakh faces after a Pulwama-type attack, he said its economy suffers since it is almost fully dependent on tourism

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The Indian Army said that all the top leadership of the JeM outfit have been eliminated by security forces in the Kashmir Valley within 100 hours of the terror attack. Pixabay

With nationalist sentiments on a high after the suicide attack that left 40 CRPF troopers dead, it is the Kashmiris around the country who have felt the heat. Post-February 14 Pulwama attack, a helpline for students from the state in the NCR area received over 500 calls — more than 25 calls a day.

Vidushi Kapoor, Jammu and Kashmir’s Liaison Officer in-charge of Delhi-NCR area, told IANS that although no major incident was reported, she received around 500-600 calls, especially from Dehradun, from Kashmiri students saying that they are “feeling insecure”.

“Police and college authorities were very helpful. Full security and support was provided to the students at all times,” she said. However, the charged-up environment and reports from other areas has prompted many Kashmiri students to return home, she added.

“The environment has cooled down now, but two weeks were quite upsetting… the students were really scared.”

Kapoor is one of the seven Liaison Officers appointed around the country by the state government in November 2018 for support of students from the state. After the attack, their contacts were published in newspapers and social media to enable students to contact them.

More worryingly, the situation also shows that the rift between the state’s three major regions – Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh – extends to influence the perception of their people around India.Kapoor noted that the helpline had not got a single call from any students from the Jammu region.

Meanwhile, it is those from the Kashmir Valley who are squeezed between the terror outfits and the security forces.

Noting how all this takes a mental toll on its residents, Mehr (name changed), a 21-year-old living in the Kashmir Valley, said: “We are in repressive conditions. Being surrounded by security men is normal for us…livelihood, schools being suspended is normal.”

About the Pulwama attack, she said: “Violence wouldn’t solve the issue. The attack was not a good thing” but noted that people joined militancy because of “excesses”.

Taniya Tikoo, a Kashmiri Pandit living in Delhi, said it is best for both India and Pakistan if Kashmiris are allowed to have a dialogue among themselves. “It will be a win-win situation for everyone,” she said.

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FILE – Indian paramilitary soldiers stand by the wreckage of a bus after an explosion in Pampore, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

People from Jammu region have a different take.

Citing the recent grenade attack in Jammu bus stand, Delhi University student Saloni, who hails from Kathua, said, “A lot of violence has shifted to Jammu (region).”

She demanded greater linkage between the state and India. “India has been investing so much… we should be integrated with the rest of the country and Articles 370, 35A (of the Constitution) should be scrapped – they have done no good so far.”

Hitu, another girl from Jammu region studying in Delhi, however, said whenever any violence takes place in Kashmir, it affects everyone including “our schools, banks, highways also close”.

She also said that people from Jammu and Ladakh region “have a general feeling of being ignored by the leaders”.

Jigmat Paljor, President of the Ladakh Student Welfare Society in Delhi, is in agreement with his Jammu counterparts – but to a point.

Paljor told IANS how his people feel alienated because with all focus on Kashmir, issues of Ladakh, which is the state’s biggest region but sparsely populated, get overlooked.

Also Read- Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

About the challenges Ladakh faces after a Pulwama-type attack, he said its economy suffers since it is almost fully dependent on tourism.

“And since Ladakh has a border with both Pakistan and China, there is always fear of tensions escalating….”

While Paljor maintains Kashmir is an integral part of the country, he wants Articles 370 and 35A to stay as his region “is very fragile and susceptible in terms of economy, culture, language, environment, from outside influence”. (IANS)