Year Ender:Mehbooba’s initiatives in 2017 to make the year memorable for JK

Jammu—As the sun sets on the evening of December 31 and people across the globe ponder over what they went through all the year, people of Jammu & Kashmir would have a reason to smile and be con­tended with.

As the scars of 2016 unrest-both physical and economic-were yet to heal, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Muf­ti started the year with a determined zeal and dedication to pull the people out of the morass they had been caught in during the previous year’s unfortunate turbulence.

The biggest challenge was to re­store the faith of the people in the system and reconnect with them. Known for taking the challenges head on throughout her life, Me­hbooba Mufti started to reconnect the administrative apparatus with the masses. Something for the first time in the administrative history of the State, the Chief Minister started visiting far flung districts along with the heads of Depart­ments and officers of her secretar­iat to personally assess the devel­opmental needs, fix the problems and listen to people’s grievances which so far remained unheard. A Chief Minister at the doorstep of people!

And which district to start from? Pulwama, which suffered the most due to the unrest of 2016. Its econo­my, development, social life, every­thing. People came in hoards to narrate their tales of deprivation. The Chief Minister listened patient­ly during her first public outreach programme. They made demands and in many cases Mehbooba Mufti ordered on spot redressal of the same.

The public outreach programmes extended through Kupwara, Bud­gam, Bandipora, Gurez, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Anantnag in Kashmir province and Doda, Kisht­war, Kathua, Samba and Rajouri in Jammu province. She visited Leh and Kargil even about 3-4 times and inspected the developmental pace in the region. She continued to listen to people till late in the night and at Doda when the clock stuck 1.40 am in the night, she was asking admin­istration not to prevent anyone who still wanted to meet the Chief Min­ister. An elderly person of a remote village of Paddar area bordering Zanskar, during such a programme at Kishtwar remarked, “We had seen Chief Ministers coming and lec­turing but first time we see a Chief Minister listening, noting down our problems and issuing orders”.

But that was not all the Chief Min­ister did through the year. Many of the scars the unrest of 2016 left was a large number of cases against youth. Their parents had been pleading for amnesty to let them be home, with family and work peace­fully. Considering the demand, the Chief Minister ordered review of the cases against such youth and taking a lenient view. More so, she also directed withdrawal of cases against around five thousand youth from 2008 to 2015 and not involved in heinous crimes. A big relief for the parents of these youth besides the much-needed healing touch for these youths who so far had only seen commotion, ruthlessness and restlessness but compassion.

Working of the Government in the State had been plagued by, what you call, a daily wage culture. Inadequately paid for full services and even sometimes not paid at all. As a remarkable feat of compas­sion, the Chief Minister took the bold decision of regularising the services of these 60 thousand youth which many of previous regimes were shying to take. Today their services stand duly regularised with all the perks and benefits of other regular employees. Indeed a step to celebrate.

The Chief Minister had been maintaining, consistently, on the need for dialogue with all stakehold­ers in the State. This, she believes, is the only way ahead to ensure a lasting peace, tranquility and equi­table development of all the regions of the State. This, she has impressed upon the Central Government time and again. As a sequel to her efforts, the Central Government decided to appoint a special representative for Jammu & Kashmir, with the status of Cabinet Secretary.

So far he has conducted three vis­its to the State and met hundreds of groups and delegations for the con­sultative process.

One hopes the process moves on and concludes with some good results for the people of the State.

But for now, the decisions and hard work done by the Chief Minis­ter during the ending year has been able to bring to people in the State the smile and hope back on their faces.

This is just the beginning, the journey is still on..

Panchayat, ULB polls to empower people: CM

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said her government is committed to empowerment of grassroots level institutions and the proposed elections to the Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies is a major step in this direction.

“The Government made a commit­ment on the floor of the House in June 2016 that the elections to the rural and urban local bodies would be held at the earliest to ensure full empowerment of these institutions,” the Chief Minister said while talking to various public delegations here today.

The Chief Minister sought larger participation of the people in the Pan­chayat elections scheduled to be held in February 2018.

Pertinently, the last Panchayat elec­tions were held in J&K in 2011, while the Urban Local Body polls were held way back in 2005.

The Chief Minister said that the Panchayat polls will be followed by elections to the Urban Local Bodies to fully empower these basic democratic institutions.

Ms Mehbooba said the elections to Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies will empower these institutions to not only have the democratic powers but the financial resources as well to undertake developmental activities at the grassroots level. “These democratic institutions play a vital role in taking forward the all-round developmental agenda of the government to every sec­tion of the population,” she said.

She said the State’s Election Author­ity would formally set the process for holding Panchayat polls into motion after the Rural Development Depart­ment issues the requisite notification in this regard in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act.

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