The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday described Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s offer of fresh dialogue with stakeholders as “a golden opportunity for the Hurriyat.”“The Hurriyat and Pakistan should respond positively to the offer of talks on Kashmir. It’s high time for the Hurriyat to initiate a result-oriented and meaningful dialogue with the Government of India,” said PDP general secretary Mansoor Hussain Sohrawardhy.Ready for dialogueIn an interview to a New Delhi-based channel, Mr. Singh said, “If Hurriyat is ready to talk, we have no problem, we are ready to talk to anyone. Even if Pakistan comes for a dialogue, we are ready for it.”The PDP leader said the State government had taken a series of confidence and peace-building measures to put a lid on the violence and bloodshed and that “more [measures] could be taken in the future.” “The ball is in the Hurriyat’s court now. The onus also lies on Pakistan to hold dialogue with India and stop painting the borders and the LoC in Kashmir red,” said Mr. Sohrawardhy.Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq maintained that the Hurriyat leadership would “extend its full support to every serious effort aimed at resolving the Kashmir [issue] so that peace prevails and bloodshed stops”. “It’s long overdue that India and Pakistan allow the leadership of the two divided parts of Kashmir to meet with each other and decide on their future course of action regarding their destiny. Such a step is of utmost importance,” said the Mirwaiz.Meanwhile, separatists forum Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) leader Yasin Malik, also JKLF chief, held a sit-in protest in Srinagar to demand release of all political prisoners.“We demand the immediate release of all prisoners, including Masarat Aalam, Qasim Faktoo, Asiya Andrabi and others,” said Mr. Malik.
The Election Commission on Monday notified that the cadres of the Kuki militant groups, who signed the Suspension of Operations agreement with both the Centre and the Manipur government, will cast their votes in postal ballots. To exercise their franchise, the cadres also must reside in their designated camps and their names feature in the voters’ list, the office of the State Chief Electoral Officer said in a statement here. They would have to collect the postal ballots from assistant nodal officers or nodal officers. The agreement was first signed by the State and the Centre with two militant groups of the community in 2008.
In a major rejig, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday sacked a junior minister and changed the portfolios of 11 ministers including nine of cabinet rank.Yadav removed Minister of State for Entertainment Tax Pawan Pandey, an official statement issued said.Portfolios of nine cabinet ministers and two ministers of state were also changed.Balram Yadav who previously held Panchayati Raj has been given the Jail Administration, which was earlier with Rajendra Chaudhary.Chaudhary has been given the portfolio of Political Pensions, the release said.Senior minister Ram Govind Chaudhary was divested of Child Nutrition. He will now only have Basic Education department with him.Brahmashankar Tripathi has been divested of Vocational Education and Skill Development departments and has been left with only the responsibility of Home Guards department, the release said.The departments of Khadi and Gramodyog have been taken from Kailash and given to Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Narad Rai.Kailash has been given the portfolio of Panchayti Raj while Agriculture minister Manoj Pandey has been given Science and Technology.Iqbal Mahmood has been made the Minister for Fisheries and Public Enterprises divesting him of the Secondary Education department, which will be now be with previous Fisheries Minister Mehboob Ali.Minister of State (Independent) for non-conventional energy Vijay Kumar Misra has been given Religious Endowment department while Minister of State for Science and Technology Abhishek Misra has been given Vocational Education.(With PTI inputs)