NIT Srinagar unrest: Mehbooba rules out shifting of campus to Jammu

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is in Delhi on her maiden visit after taking over the reins of the state, dismissed the possibility of shifting National Institute of Technology (NIT) out of the Valley on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old Mehbooba, who assumed charge of the PDP-BJP government on 4 April, called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Sing, a meeting she described as a "courtesy call".

Emerging from the 45-minute meeting with Singh, Mehbooba said, "It is a courtesy call on the Home Minister after I took over as the Chief Minister".

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

During the meeting, the two sides are believed to have discussed the present turmoil in the state due to clashes between outstation students and police besides law and order situation arising out of militancy.

Sources in the ministry said the Home Minister told Mehbooba that normalcy should be restored at the earliest.

As she was leaving the North Block, journalists asked her questions about the unrest at the NIT and the demand by outstation students to shift the campus to Jammu.

"Let me make it clear that it is an issue within the institute and please do not give it a colour of local versus outsiders. The Human Resources Development Ministry is looking into the grievances of the outstation students and I am hopeful that it will be resolved soon.

"As far as demands of some students to shift the NIT campus out of Srinagar is considered, let me make it clear that it won't be possible," she said.

To a question that many outstation students had not appeared in the examination that began on Monday, she said "Some students were not prepared for exams. Their exams would be conducted later.

"Some students have gone back to their homes because of the environment," Mehbooba, the first woman Chief Minister of the state, said.

She later met Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and is believed to have discussed the issue of widening of state's national highways which has been pending with his ministry for a long time.

She is also believed to have taken up the issue of bad road connectivity within the state.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government said in a statement that during her meeting with the Union Home Minister, Mehbooba discussed how to broaden the scope of cross — LoC trade and travel.

The Chief Minister proposed opening of additional routes and crossing points across the Line of Control, described by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the "biggest" confidence- building measure between India and Pakistan.

The proposed new routes include Kargil-Skardu, Jammu- Sialkote, Turtuk-Khapulu, Chhamb Jorian-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor- Gilgit, Titwal-Chilhas, and Jhangar (Nowshera)-Mirpur and Kotli.

Mohbooba and Singh discussed on proposals of the state government which are presently under the consideration of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The proposals include continuation of modernisation of Police Force Scheme, revised ex-gratia scheme, including loss to livestock due to cross-border firing, and exemption of security-related expenditure on account of deployment charges.

Expressing concern over rising crimes against women, Mehbooba sought financial support from the Union Home Minister for raising two all-women battalions.

She said the Cabinet had, in its meeting on Monday, sanctioned four new women police stations to check rising incidents of crimes against women, the release said.

On adopting non-lethal means in better crowd control to prevent loss of precious human lives while dealing with law and order situations, Singh assured the Chief Minister of full support from the Union Home Ministry.

The Chief Minister welcomed the central government's direction to state governments to appoint Nodal Officers to ensure safety and security of students from Jammu and Kashmir who are pursuing studies outside the state.

The issue of Inner Line Permit for foreign tourists for visiting various parts of Ladakh also came up for discussion during the meeting.

Mehbooba also requested the Union Home Minister to clear the proposal for restoration of damaged infrastructure in police department due to floods of 2014. A proposal amounting to Rs 286.57 crore has already been sent to the Home Ministry in this regard.

The Chief Minister urged Singh to take an early decision on the state government's proposal to recognise Nepal route as one of the routes under the policy framed for returnees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

On the return of Kashmir Pandits, the Chief Minister said not only the state government but the people of Jammu and Kashmir want return of Kashmiri Pandit community to the Valley with dignity and honour as the cultural milieu of Kashmir without them remains incomplete.

In her meeting with Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Mehbooba sought higher allocation under Central Road Fund for the state.

Gadkari assured Mehbooba that once utilisation certificates (UCs) for Rs 848 crore are received, an amount of Rs 350 crore will be released under central road fund (CRF).

So far, UCs amounting to Rs 801 crore have been sent by the R&B Department, the meeting was informed, the release said.

The Chief Minister highlighted the urgent need to declare Mughal Road as an alternate National Highway, keeping in view the critical condition of certain portions of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. She also highlighted the need for construction of a tunnel to make Mughal Road an all-weather road.

Mughal Road was renovated under Prime Minister's Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) and completed at a cost of Rs 640 crore. For providing alternate connectivity to Chenab Valley, the Chief Minister requested the Union Minister for construction of a National Highway from Lakhanpur to Doda via Ranjit Sagar Dam, which will provide a huge fillip to the tourism potential of the region.

Mehbooba also raised the issue of inclusion of more projects under Bharat Mala and Inter-State Connectivity Projects so that better road connectivity is provided to the people.

She was informed that except Qazitur-Tangdhar Road for which certain clarifications have been sought from the Public Works Department, bids have been received in case of Baramulla-Gulmarg and Poonch-Uri Roads and the work on the projects will be allotted shortly.

The Chief Minister was informed that Rs 90 crore will be released to the state government for basic maintenance of roads.

Mehbooba also sought special assistance for completing construction of 541 bridges in the state.

The Union Transport Minister assured the Chief Minister that he will get the proposal submitted by the state government examined on priority.

As regards to the issue of rationalisation of toll collection, a demand raised by the Chief Minister, he said the proposal submitted by the state government will be prioritised.

The Chief Minister assured Gadkari that the state government will extend full support in land acquisition for construction of ring roads in the two capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.

The Surface Transport Ministry has already started the process of framing detailed project reports so that the work on the two prestigious projects is started in earnest.

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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2016 22:59:13 IST

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