Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was in New Delhi on her maiden visit after taking over the reins of the state, today dismissed the possibility of shifting National Institute of Technology out of the Valley.
The 56-year-old Mehbooba, who assumed charge of the People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party government on April 4, called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a meeting she described as a ‘courtesy call’.
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 the 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 tension,” Mehbooba, the first woman chief minister of the state, said.
She later met Union 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-Line of Control trade and travel.
The chief minister proposed opening of additional routes and crossing points across the LoC, 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.
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.
Meanwhile in Jammu, a public interest litigation has been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir high Court chere seeking shifting of the NIT out of Srinagar.
“Post what happened at the NIT in Srinagar, we moved a PIL in the high court which was heard by the Division Bench of the court headed by Chief Justice today,” said the petitioner Hari Om, a former BJP leader.
He said that in the PIL he has sought the direction of the court to shift the NIT out of Kashmir.
“Court after hearing the council of the petition has reserved its order,” said senior advocate B S Slathia.
Srinagar-based NIT has been at the centre of a controversy since a clash between local and outstation students following India’s defeat in semi-final of T-20 World Cup on March 31.
Outstation students had earlier demanded shifting of NIT out of Kashmir but the HRD ministry had ruled it out.
Om said the other issues raised in the PIL include making a conducive atmosphere in Kashmir so that the Tricolor can be hosted without any fear.