Omar Grounds Geelani On Yatra Road, Offers Chopper

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Srinagar – Seeking to call Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s bluff, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday offered the Hurriyat (G) chairman an aerial survey of the Amarnath route “to see for himself whether the government was constructing a road to the holy cave.”

“The government will provide Geelani two helicopters,” Abdullah told public meetings in Old Srinagar and Shopian. “Let him fly over the entire route personally. If he finds even a single metre of macadam, he is welcome to issue protest calendars all the year round.”

“Let him identify a single spot where a pucca road has been constructed,” he said.

The chief minister’s challenge came a day after Geelani threatened an agitation after Eid over what he described as dumping of material for an “Amarnath Nagar” and constructing a road to the Amarnath cave.

Abdullah defended the government’s steps on the yatra, asking the separatist leadership to study the 200-page document he said the state had filed in the Supreme Court following its orders on the issue.

“There is no mention in this document of any plans to construct a road, and the Supreme Court too has issued no such orders,” he said.

“Ignoring reality, Geelani has begun talking of launching a agitation,” he said. “These people are actually interested in disrupting the valley’s calm by making false claims.”  

“They follow a mission of disruption while the government wants to solve public issues and provide avenues of employment for jobless youth,” he said.

“The Shrine Board has not applied to the government for land, nor has the government allotted it any,” he said. “All this is negative propaganda.”   

“The purpose of constructing gates is to restrict the movement of yatris and avert large crowds around the cave-shrine,” he said.

“These people are trying to create law-and-order problems to drive a wedge between the government and the public,” he said.

“The state is already facing difficulties because of militancy and its fallout, and the Old City has been among the worst sufferers,” he said.

“You have seen militant attacks, crackdowns, arrests and stone-pelting, but witnessed very little peace,” he told the gathering downtown. “The government is aware of public problems and demands, and is striving hard to solve them.”

Addressing another public rally in Shopian in the same vein, Abdullah repeated his offer to Geelani on the Amarnath Road issue.

“From the soil of Shopian I invite Geelani that I will seat him in this state helicopter and take him on a trip over all the hills from Pahalgam to the Amarnath cave,” he said.

“If he finds even a single meter of macadamized road anywhere on the route, he may issue protest calendars for an entire year,” he said at a public rally after inaugurating a bridge in the South Kashmir town.

Directing his remarks at panchayat members, he said that they were being sought to be misled by certain quarters.

“Panchayat elections were not held to dupe you, but to vest you with powers over departments through which you can serve the people,’ he said.

“The notification for Block Development Council polls had unfortunately to be withdraw because of the controversy over reservations for women, SCs and STs,” he said. But I assure you that the polls will be held within a few months.”

“The Valley is facing difficulties in LPG supplies because of hoarding and black-marketing,” he said. “I have issued clear instructions to the divisional administration to the use the police if it needs to swiftly raid such locations, seize the cylinders and distribute them among consumers.”  

“The minister for consumer affairs and public distribution has been instructed to stay put in the valley despite durbar move to ensure that consumers face no problems over LPG,” he said.

“I have made it clear to the central government not to take the Valley as other states,” he said. “People here have to face harsh winters and minus temperatures. The Valley gets cut off from the rest of the country due to road closure, and firewood supply also is limited because of ban on felling trees.”

“The centre has also been apprised of the power shortage Kashmir faces in winters, and asked to consider where people will go when they have LPG problems as well,” he said.

“The state government is lobbying hard at the centre to overcome the LPG crises,” he said. (Observer News Service)

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