Ready to hold polls, let ECI decide dates: Governor Malik

The state administration is ready for assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but the dates have to be decided by the Election Commission of India, Governor Satya Pal Malik said on Friday.

Talking to media on the sidelines of a function here, Malik said: “The dates for the assembly elections will be conveyed to us by the Election Commission. Let it decide the dates, we are ready to hold the polls anytime, even alongside the parliamentary polls.”


‘KASHMIRI YOUTH BEING MISGUIDED’

Speaking about the Kashmir issue, the Governor said Kashmir is an issue for people aged between 13 to 23 because “they have nothing to do after 6 pm”.

“There is no cinema hall in Kashmir, no recreation point, no ground for sports and not even a place to visit after 6 pm. I have recently laid the foundation of a cinema hall to give something to the Kashmiri youth who are being misguided by some people,” the governor said, adding: “While Kashmiri youth want to play sports, some people want them to do something else”.

To another question about IAS officer Shah Faisal’s resignation, the governor refused to comment on the issue, saying he was himself a government employee.

‘PM COMPLIMENTED ME’

Earlier, addressing 2093 sarpanchs who were administered the oath of office at Gulshan Ground here, the governor said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented him for “successful” conduct of the civic elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

“During a programme in New Delhi recently, the Prime Minister held my hand and took me off stage to compliment me for the successful conduct of urban local body and panchayat elections in J&K,” he said.

Malik claimed that the PM told him that “poll percentage could vary but holding the polls without a single casualty is a major achievement”.

The governor said that earlier on an average 50 people used to die during elections in Kashmir.

He said in the Srinagar by-polls (in May 2017), nine people died but not even a single casualty was reported during the civic elections held last year.

He said after the poll dates were announced, many forces tried to create a fear psychosis in his mind, mostly related to poll violence, about the repercussions of holding the polls.

“But”, the governor said, “I took it as a challenge and held the polls successfully”.  The governor assured that he would chalk out a strategy with his advisor K Vijay Kumar on providing security to all sarpanchs and panchs and raise their funds as well.

“I assure you that very soon, you will get your funds. I had recently called on the Prime Minister and I was told that the finance ministry will soon release the funds. I also assure you that your funds will be raised,” Malik said.

He also promised the elected village heads that he would get their protocol fixed so that “they are given due respect by government officials”.

“I have seen how badly government officials treat sarpanchs and panchs. But as long as I am here, I will not let it happen. I will direct the concerned officials to fix the same protocol for panchayat representatives as is in vogue for the state head, DMs, SSPs and other concerned government officials”.

The governor also said that his administration will henceforth release funds for development of panchayats only on the recommendations of sarpanchs and panchs.

“Generally it happens that we release the funds without knowing what the needs of the villages and panchayats are. From now onwards, we will involve the sarpanchs and panchs in policy-making. We will ask them to submit proposals about the needs of their areas. Only on their recommendations, we will release the funds,” he said.

He said he has also directed the government officials to identify a piece of land in every panchayat of the state to be marked as a playground for youth.

‘CREATING SPORTS FACILITIES’

Complementing Kashmiri youth for their sports spirit, the governor said, “Recently a Kashmiri football team ‘The Real Kashmir’ defeated India’s number one football team, Mohun Bagan, by 2-0, and the match witnessed a record crowd of 27000 people, which, according to agencies, was the largest gathering in the history of Kashmir.”

He also complemented the Kashmiri cricketer who has recently found a place in the IPL.

“The cricketer’s house was visited by 20000 people to wish him on his feat,” he said.

He said he is also looking into the technicalities of establishing one international cricket stadium each in Jammu and Srinagar.

“I am on this job. Alongside this, I am also trying to look into modalities of having our own IPL team,” he said.

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