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Not confrontation but dialogue and discussion only way out: Guv

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Announces Panchayat, ULB polls in J&K from Sept-Dec

Srinagar, Aug 15: Governor N N Vohra today asserted that only dialogue and discussion can pull the state out of "fear, distrust and growing cynicism" that have impeded its economic development.

In his Independence Day address at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar, he also announced that the long-delayed Panchayat elections and polls to urban local bodies will be held between September and December.

Vohra said confrontation will not help in resolving the issues facing the state, and urged political leaders and those leading the socio-cultural and religious organisations to think about what has been gained from the "endless turmoil".

The Governor, who took over the administration in the state after the fall of the PDP-BJP alliance government in June, urged political leaders to also think about human and economic losses and the trouble endured by people for decades.

"To pull the state out of the prevailing environment of suspicion, fear, distrust and growing cynicism, it is crucial that all stakeholders - whatever their political convictions or religious ideologies - close ranks and muster courage to accept that our problems can be resolved only through dialogue and discussion, and by sustained efforts towards promoting reconciliation and communal harmony," he said.

His appeal for peace, harmony and dialogue came as separatist organisations observed a strike in the Kashmir Valley.

The separatists under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had asked people to observe a "black day" today.

At the main Independence Day function, which was hit by a technical snag leading to cancellation of some cultural programmes, Vohra said it needs to be understood that some people have the sole objective of stoking unrest and their behaviour has resulted in Kashmir being branded "with a negative profile".

This, he added, has discouraged tourism, external investments and adversely affected the economic advancement of the state.

Vohra praised government forces, saying they have successfully pushed back against the “proxy war waged by Pakistan”,  even as he hoped that a new leadership in Islamabad would help improve bilateral ties.

On militancy, Vohra said he was pleased that several youths who had joined militancy have returned home, and urged the community leaders to influence the young men to return home and pursue their career goals.

"Elections to urban local bodies and Panchayats have been pending for long. The prolonged delay in the establishment of democratically-elected self-governing bodies at the grassroots level in urban and rural areas has resulted in the loss of considerable funds which would have become available if elections had been held," Vohra said in his speech.

He said elections to urban local bodies will take place in September-October while the phased Panchayat polls will be held in October-December.

The last Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir were held in 2011. The urban local body elections have not been held for nearly eight years.

"Soon after assuming responsibility, the Governor's administration has taken the required steps for organising elections to Panchayats and municipalities. Necessary amendments to the existing laws have already been made and speedy action is underway to gear-up the administrative and logistical arrangements for undertaking both these elections," he said.

Vohra said his administration is taking action to ensure that adequate funds, delegation of administrative and financial authority, deployment of required staff and logistical support is provided to municipalities and panchayats, as soon as they are established.

"I would appeal to the leaders of all political parties in the state to provide full support to the administration to improve efficiency and accountability in every arena of functioning and to lend their valuable support towards engendering an environment in which the forthcoming elections to municipalities and panchayats produce a positive outcome.

"This would, in turn, pave the way for the restoration of peace and normalcy and enable the state to take on bigger challenges," he added.

Sound system fails during I-Day function in Srinagar

Srinagar, Aug 15: The main state-organised Independence Day function was hampered today due to a malfunctioning sound system, officials said.

The event was held at Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar and presided over by Governor N N Vohra.

The audio system started to malfunction during the 'bhangra performance' by the personnel of paramilitary forces. As the audio system could not be repaired, the other cultural performances had to be cancelled.

A senior official said the cause of the malfunctioning was being investigated and action will be taken if any official is found guilty of dereliction of duty.

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