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JEHANGIR ALI | 9 SEPTEMBER, 2015

Mehbooba Mufti Urges PM To Make New Beginning In J&K

Mehbooba Mufti


SRINAGAR: Seeking the Centre's help for rehabilitating the victims of 2014 floods, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is in an alliance with the BJP in Jammu & Kashmir, Tuesday urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a financial package for the state.

More than a year after the devastating flood hit the state on September 7, damaging private and public infrastructure worth Rs one lakh crores, according to independent estimates, the PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, Tuesday said it is "beyond the means" of the state government to rehabilitate the flood victims.

"Economic deprivation, development deficit and unemployment have become complex problems in the aftermath of the floods. Given the enormity of the crisis, it is beyond the means and resources of the state government to confront this challenge," she said in her address to a day-long convention of PDP workers in Pulwama where she was accompanied by the state's finance minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu.

"We hope the central government would pay immediate attention to these enormous challenges and help the state government in rejuvenating the economy of the state through an adequate financial package,” she said.

The previous state government led by Omar Abdullah had sought financial package of Rs 44,000 crores for rehabilitating about 4.5 million people who were affected by the deluge last year. The flood has also crippled the state's crucial economic sectors like horticulture and tourism.

While there has been much talk about a "massive" financial package purportedly set to be announced for the state, the fact that the Centre hasn't made any commitment to the state government has anguished the victims, many of whom haven't yet returned to their flood-hit homes.

The delay has also given ammunition to the opposition as well as the separatists, many of whom were detained to foil a protest called by the traders' bodies and civil society groups on September 7, the day last year when the floods hit the state, against the Centre's apathy towards rehabilitating the flood victims.

On Tuesday, the National Conference president and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, hit out at the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, saying that he must either deliver or vacate the chair.

"With the onset of winter, the hardships of flood sufferers will aggravate. Immediate approval to the package is the need of the hour. But Mufti hasn't made any progress on the issue. He must either deliver or leave the chair," Dr Farooq told his party activists who had gathered to observe the death anniversary of the National Conference founder, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah here.

Meanwhile, Mehbooba, who is also a Member of Parliament from Anantnag constituency, said the time has come for the Prime Minister to revive the peace initiatives, both on internal and external fronts, and mark a new beginning in Jammu and Kashmir.

"History has given an opportunity for reviving the peace initiative that the party had set into motion between 2002 and 2005. The Prime Minister must evolve a grand strategy and pioneer fresh political and economic initiatives with speed, purpose and direction,” Mehbooba said.

Urging the recruits of "new insurgency" to shun the path of violence, Mehbooba said opportunities are awaiting them in various sectors, “The youth who have taken to the path of violence must take a cue from their counterparts who are qualifying prestigious examinations like IAS, KAS etc with flying colours and making their families proud,” she said.

"The turmoil has only brought miseries to the people leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. The pain of Kashmiris has reached a level where the hope of peace and prosperity is sure to gain substantial local support,” she said.

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