I-day observed in Kashmir amid shutdown

CM slams proponents of poll boycott

‘Kousar Nag issue mishandled by administration’

Hitting out at separatists over “boycott politics,” the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Friday appealed people to vote in the state Assembly elections which are due in November-December this year.
“Today I appeal you, whosoever you will vote for, it will be your decision, but please don’t waste your vote,” Omar said in his I-Day speech at Bakshi Stadium here, the main venue for the function, after unfurling the tri-color.
Without naming anybody, Omar said there were people who don’t want Kashmiris to vote as they claim the participation in electoral process affects the resolution of Kashmir issue. 
He said boycott politics over the past 25 years has not achieved anything. “Jammu and Ladakh votes, only Kashmir does not vote. If you want development process to move forward then please vote in the upcoming elections in November-December,” Omar said in his 28-minute speech which also focused on the “achievements” of his government in the past five and a half years.
The Chief Minister said he never fought 2008 Assembly election on the plank of resolving K-issue but to improve amenities like electricity, water supply, education and healthcare. But at the same time, he said, whenever his Government got a chance he highlighted the importance of addressing Kashmir issue before the Prime Minister, in the Legislative Assembly and at all the forums.
On Kousarnag Yatra 
Omar also castigated separatists for opposing Kousarnag Yatra on the ground of environment protection, saying the local people were doing more harm to the ecology of the region.
“I don’t understand how 150 people visiting a lake can in anyway do more damage to the environment than we ourselves do. Please visit Gulmarg, Pahalgam or Sonamarg where people have gone during this long weekend and see the mess they leave there,” Omar told reporters.
Citing the example of Dal Lake in the city, he said, “See the mess we create in Dal Lake.” 
“I think we create far more damage to the environment than 150 persons visiting a lake,” he added. Omar also criticized the local administration over the handling of the Kousarnag Yatra issue.
“While I understand the need of these people to continuously coin political slogans, the mistake was on part of the administration, the way they handled the issue. Otherwise there is nothing to be feared from this issue,” he said and added; “They rake up issues with emotional value and they convert it into political slogan.” 
Omar said those opposing the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would have to rethink on their stand as the situation has improved significantly.
He said he was being taunted for raising the AFSPA revocation issue time and again despite the fact that he has not been able to convince New Delhi on revocation of the controversial law.
“Failure should not stop us from trying. We might fail once and twice but we should not lose heart. When there is decline in militancy and the graph is still on decline, I can say it with authority that people who are against AFSPA revocation will one day understand the reality and we will succeed in getting the law revoked,” Omar said.
On Militancy & Security
Chief Minister said there has been 80 per cent decline in militancy-related incidents in J&K during the last five-and-half years. 
Omar said with the improvement in the situation the footprints of the forces have been lessened on the ground. “At least 1000 private buildings, 300 government buildings, 40 hotels and 30 industrial units have been cleared from the security forces’ occupation,” Omar said. 
He said about 350 youth returned to the state from Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) under the rehabilitation policy announced in 2011.
On Development Front 
With assembly elections approaching, Omar presented an overview of the achievements of his government on the governance and developmental front during the last five and a half years. 
He said development of the power sector has remained the priority of his government. He said against generation of 750 MW from 1947 to 2008 including 450 MW Baghliar project, his government has started projects of the capacity of 1500 MW and laid foundation for generating 9000 MW of hydro power. 
He said more than 200 new health institutions at different levels have been opened and 12815 doctors and paramedics have been appointed to provide adequate staff to the hospitals. 

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