SRINAGAR — After the abrogation of the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, the LG Secretariat for the first-time invited representatives of different political parties to have an interaction with the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday.
The meeting was purely about the arrangements and management of Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra. However, some participants raised issues related to people to which LG Manoj Sinha assured redressal.
Out of nine political leaders who participated in the meeting, eight were from Kashmir and one from Jammu. The participants included Dr Farooq Abdullah, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Muzzafar Shah, Altaf Bukhari, GA Mir, Ravinder Raina, Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen and GM Shaheen. Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti didn’t attend the meeting.
Divulging information about what transpired in the meeting, one of the participants said that Congress leader GA Mir, Apni Party President Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari and JDU Jammu Kashmir President GM Shaheen were more vocal during the meeting while others acted as mute spectators or talked spasmodically.
GA Mir raised the issue of the Srinagar-Jammu Highway complaining that commuters face hardships due to the massive presence of forces who frequently stop them from plying on the highway during the Amarnath Yatra period. LG assured him the matter will be sorted out and people won’t face any hardships.
Mir also requested the LG to allow people to visit Pahalgam who, according to him, are not permitted there after 2 PM. LG promised redressal to the issues raised by GA Mir.
While drawing the attention of the LG towards the sufferings of the people, who get stranded whenever there are landslides between Ramban and Banihal area on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, Mir said that some vested interest elements exploit and loot the stranded passengers in absence of any government accommodation and arrangements. LG Manoj Sinha promised that make-shift camps will be installed near landslide-prone areas where the government will provide relief to the stranded passengers.
Mir also advised the LG to shun the ‘stick’ approach, saying the more the government spreads love and affection, the more the gap between people and the government will be reduced. Mir said that it is important to adopt a soft approach toward people to lessen hostilities and opposition.
All the leaders in one voice said that the people of Kashmir have always welcomed the Amarnath Yatris.
Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari also raised the issues related to people, urging the LG to take all measures so that locals don’t suffer on account of the Yatra.
JDU leader GM Shaheen said that during the 2008 Amarnath land row, the people of the Maisuma area of Srinagar city created community kitchens to feed pilgrims. He said the people of Kashmir have supported this Yatra even then when there were no security forces on the roads.
Shaheen urged the LG to allow Yatris to visit Srinagar city so that traders of the city will get benefited as well. He said Yatris should be allowed to take the Dalgate route also.
Shaheen also raised the issues of public importance including electricity. He suggested that such meetings should take place frequently so that gap between politicians and the government can be bridged.
Farooq Abdullah didn’t speak too much. He said the people of Kashmir have always stood by the Yatris. He said it is our responsibility to be hospitable towards the Yatris and no doubt people of Kashmir are known for their hospitality.
He shared his experience with the Yatra when he was the chief minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.