Mehbooba meets Rajnath, Gadkari

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday met union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for the first time after assuming office. She also met Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Mehbooba is understood to have discussed the controversy over the National Institute of Technology (NIT) – Srinagar, following the stand-off between Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students and the police action on the institute campus.

After meeting Rajnath Singh, which she described as a “courtesy call”, Mehbooba dismissed the possibility of shifting the NIT out of the Kashmir Valley as was being demanded by some students.

“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 resource development ministry is looking into the grievances of the outstation students, and I am hopeful that it will be resolved soon,” the chief minister told reporters as she came out of the North Block office.

According to ruling Peoples Democratic Party sources, Mehbooba, on her first visit to New Delhi since she was sworn-in, discussed various state government proposals now under the consideration of the home ministry. These included continuation of modernisation of the police force scheme, revised ex gratia scheme including for loss of livestock in cross-border firing, and exemption of security-related expenditure on account of deployment charges.

Mehboba also proposed opening of additional routes and crossing points across the Line of Control.

These were Kargil-Skardu, Jammu-Sialkote, Turtuk-Khapulu, Chhamb Jorian-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit, Titwal-Chilhas, Jhangar (Nowshera)-Mirpur and Kotli.

Expressing concern over rising crimes against women, Mehbooba sought support from the home minister for financial assistance in raising two all-women battalions for executive policing.

She also advocated adopting non-lethal means and better crowd control to prevent loss of human lives while dealing with law-and-order situations in the Kashmir Valley.

The chief minister also urged Rajnath 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 militants returning to mainstream, peaceful life.

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

The home minister assured Mehbooba of full support from the Centre, sources said.

Duing her meeting with Gadkari, Mehbooba sought higher allocation under the Central Road Fund for the state and assured full support for land acquisition for construction of ring roads in the two cities of Jammu and Srinagar.

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