Azad Hopes Peace Blooms Into Friendship

22 March 2008

Akhnoor: Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday hoped that the peace prevailing on borders between India and Pakistan for the last four years would flower into permanent friendship so that the two countries use their resources and energies for development. Addressing a public meeting in border village of Khour here in Jammu district, the Chief Minister said that Indo-Pak relations had improved since the past four years which had relieved the border population of constant hardships they otherwise suffered due to strained relations. He recalled the post-Kargil situation when lakhs of people living on borders had to flee to save their lives from mortar shells and firing from across and said the peace process with the neighbouring country initiated under the UPA government led to the easing of the situation and peace on the borders. At the public meeting, attended and addressed also by Speaker Legislative Assembly Tara Chand, Minister for Health and Medical Education Mangat Ram Sharma, MP Madan Lal Sharma, Minister of State for R&B and Agriculture Gharu Ram and MLA Sham Lal Sharma, the Chief Minister also distributed papers pertaining to allotment of plots and the first installment of Rs. 25,000 for construction of houses to border migrants of Khour block affected during the Kargil war. “We want that this peace on borders should be a permanent feature and relations between the two countries bloom into lasting friendship so that resources are spent on development and prosperity of the people on both sides”, Azad said. The Chief Minister said that efforts were on to consolidate the gains of the peace process between the two countries and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi were working to make the Indo-Pak friendship a lasting feature. He hoped that the dialogue process that had slowed down for the last one year due to the internal situation in Pakistan would be resumed and taken further. He said after the recent elections, democracy had returned there and hoped that the new government would seriously take forward the peace and friendship initiative launched four years ago. Making a special mention of the hardships of the border population, the Chief Minister said that the Congress party and government had always come to their help. He said during the Kargil war when lakhs of people had to flee from border areas in Akhnoor, R. S. Pura, Kathua, Rajouri, Poonch and other places and were rendered homeless and migrants, the party sent relief material like blankets, food and tents to provide succour to the affected population. He said after the party came into power both at the Centre and in the State, the two governments had speeded up efforts to address their problems. Azad said that the maximum number of the affected border population came from Akhnoor tehsil including Khour block. He said although the government provided ration to them but since they were homeless something tangible had to be done to provide them relief. He said since their land was under the use of army and mined they could not undertake agricultural activities. He said under such circumstances it was not difficult to imagine how hard the life must had been for these people. He said 3500 acres of their land was still under the use of army. Keeping all these factors in view, the government, he said, identified 2500 kanals of land to distribute as plots of 5 marlas each among the 6072 affected families for constructing their houses. He said besides, Rs. 50,000 would be provided as cash assistance for construction of their dwelling units. The first installment of Rs. 25,000 was being distributed in the shape of cheques today itself, he said. Earlier, the government had provided Rs. 20,000 each to the affected families, Rs. 10,000 each for purchase of a pair of bullocks to till the land and Rs. 10,000 as compensation for damages to their houses. He asked them to start in the right earnest the construction of their houses. The Chief Minister informed the border people that he had successfully persuaded the central government for enhancing rent of the land under the use of the army. He said he had several meetings with the Defence Minister following which the central government had agreed, besides paying rent of the land under the army for the last about 10 years, double the amount of rent of civilian land and property that was with the army. He said the present central government was favourably disposed towards the people of Jammu & Kashmir. He thanked the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Home Minister for coming to the help of the people of border areas in J&K. The Chief Minister, referring to the list of demands made by Mr. Tara Chand, said that his government would do anything to address the problems of the local people and consider sympathetically the demands made during the public meeting. Earlier, addressing the meeting, Speaker Legislative Assembly, Tara Chand thanked the Chief Minister for visiting his constituency four times during the past one and a half years. He said Mr. Azad as union minister also had been frequently visiting the camps of border migrants to help them in their hour of need. He said while the Chief Minister undertook development of the entire State, the Akhnoor tehsil received due attention. He said an additional bridge on River Chenab was constructed in a record time. A college and SDM office in Akhnoor, grid station in Khour and road connectivity in border areas were some of the measures taken by his government for the development of this area. He called for construction of 3000 houses under IAY for houseless persons and providing drought relief to the affected population of the constituency. The Minister for Health and Medical Education, Mangat Ram Sharma, in his address, enumerated major initiatives like Roshni scheme, opening of universities, colleges and schools across the State, up-gradation of infrastructure in roads, healthcare, power, water supply and education sectors taken by the Azad government. He thanked the UPA government at the centre for liberal assistance to the State and rehabilitation package for Khour block border migrants. He also referred to opening of cross-LoC road links, tourism promotion, massive infrastructure development and raising of honourarium of Nambardars and Chowkidars, saying that all sections of the people were benefited with the measures. He said people’s welfare had always remained close to the heart of the Congress party and government.