Justice Sagir Ahmed To Head Kashmir Working Group: Azad
6 November 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Describing the act of National Conference for its decision of withdrawal from Kashmir Working Group as 'irresponsible', Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that Justice Sagir Ahmed will be the new head of Kashmir Working Group (KWG). Talking to media- persons on the first day of the opening of Civil Secretariat in the winter capital here this morning, the Chief Minister expressed hope that the Opposition National Conference would participate in its next meeting headed by Justice Sagir Ahmed in November. Responding to a question on NC's withdrawal from the KWG, Mr Azad said, ' It is an irresponsible act of the National Conference but I hope that NC would take part in the next meeting to be held in New Delhi in November. NC is the oldest party in the State and I don't think its patron Dr Farooq Abdullah can pull out from the Working Group.' While playing down the controversy of the removal of retired Justice Ahmed as head of the Working Group, Azad said, ' he did not have the time to devote for the Working Group meets.' In response to another question regarding differences over the self-rule proposal with PDP, the Chief Minister played safe and said, 'everyone within and outside the Coalition is free to raise his point of view on the solution to the Kashmir problem.' He however, suggested that PDP and NC can raise issues of self-rule and autonomy in the working group meets and the round table conferences for which they have been set up. Mr Azad ruled out any threat to his Government and said that this regime would complete the remaining two years in office and will try to implement the agenda of good governance in the State. He said the number of custodial killings and disappearances has shown declining trend and cases of alleged rapes and sexual harassment were negligible. Stressing upon his Government's resolve for zero tolerance of HR violation cases, Mr Azad said that general law and order situation has shown significant improvement. Regarding the demand of refugees of West Pakistan to grant citizenship rights to own land and property and cast vote, Mr Azad said the demand is very sensitive and all major political parties needed to arrive at a consensus over the issue. He said the demand can also be taken up for resolution in the Working Group by involving concerned representatives. Referring to general situation, Azad said inspite of increase in infiltration during last one year, the security forces and police have succeeded in minimizing militancy related incidents and violence in the State. Mr Azad disclosed that nearly 13 lakh kanals of State land has been grabbed by the land-mafiamen in the entire State and a vigorous campaign is being launched to retrieve this Government land. Sounding a warning note, Mr Azad said, whosoever is responsible will not be spared. He pointed out that some political persons and some connected to media and started their own newspapers to cover up their misdeeds were also said to be connected with the mafia. ' Le it be made clear to all that in the process of operation, no one is going to be spared whether he is from Congress, PDP, NC or any other Party,' the Chief Minister warned. He revealed that entire data has been collected and computerised by the Revenue department. He said land mafia in Jammu and Srinagar have become more powerful and dangerous. They have now openly started resorting to all kinds of mafia tactics to threaten the authorities for retaining their illegal occupancy. He said all steps would be taken to deal with the goonda elements whose actions were alarming like those of militants. Commenting on the creation of eight new districts, three sub-divisions and 13 tehsils the Chief Minister said that it was a significant decision of the coalition Government fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir much beyond the Wazir commission recommendations. He said Delimitation Committee set up under Dr S S Bloeria will submit its report regarding demarcation of boundaries by the end of January and by Feb or March next year the new Deputy Commissioners and SSPs will be appointed besides recruiting other staff. He said funds proposal for these new districts would be kept in the next budget in March. Mr Azad asserted that his campaign against corruption has yielded good results and said that unique legislation enacted in the State in this connection was first of its kind in the world. He said properties of eight officials have been confiscated and properties of 50 other officials are in the process of confiscation. Referring to creation of Special Economic Zones, Mr Azad said following opposition from the general public, the Government has decided not to go in for creation of SEZ in J&K on the pattern of Haryana, Uttaranchal and Punjab. He said that he himself has taken review of the Industry and it was still half way. He pointed out that industry set up in the State was not yet employment oriented but restricted to some Central and State incentives to individual industrialists. He said investment from outside should be beneficial for the locals and may provide job avenues to the local youth. Earlier, the Chief Minister on his arrival at the Civil Secretariat at 9.30 am was accorded guard of honour by a contingent of State police. He was accompanied by cabinet ministers, chief secretary, DGP and other senior officers. He went round various offices in both the blocks and inspected maintenance works. He also inspected dispensary and canteen. He was satisfied with the arrangements made for reopening of move offices here.