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Killings over shadow Mehbooba's impressive Cabinet debut
Govt to focus on curbing rights abuse; police reshuffle soon

Hyder Ali

Srinagar, Apr 14: Even as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made an impressive debut at Cabinet meeting which she chaired on April 11 in the winter capital, her government didn't get time to celebrate her achievements as the very next day Kupwara erupted in protests and four civilians were killed.
Highly placed sources said the PDP-led coalition government was planning a major projection of its achievements at the first Cabinet through a campaign but that the killings overshadowed the impressive debut.
In fact Mehbooba's latest tour to New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and other top brass was to be the next big move after the Cabinet, but the protests back home in Kashmir brought "distaste in governance".
For a Chief Minister who has never been a minister before, chairing the first cabinet could be difficult. But Mehbooba proved the cynics wrong by taking the meeting beyond conventional administrative reshuffle. The cabinet took over one dozen decisions which would influence state's progress in the coming times. The first impact of her meeting was visible among the government servants. The moment cabinet decisions were announced, Civil Secretariat rose up in cheers for the formal approval to the release of Dearness Allowance installment by 6 %of pay, raising the total dearness allowance of the state employees from 113% to 119 % with effect from July 1.
While the government employees were happy, so were the pensioners. The Cabinet sanctioned additional pension for the welfare of old pensioners/family pensioners stating that "Additional pension will be extended to the old pensioners/family pensioners."
The Cabinet, which concluded harmoniously, aimed at "equitable development of the state". The Cabinet accorded sanction to the creation of four Women Police Stations, one each in district Anantnag, Baramulla, Rajouri and Udhampur districts of the state.
Sources said it was Mehbooba's strategic feeler to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that she believes in realizing her Naari Shakti campaign in the state.
On the other hand, Mehbooba tried to tactfully douse the public outcry against the implementation of the "controversial" National Food Security Act in the state. Infact, observers said, she transformed complaints into tributes.
Her Cabinet gave the go-ahead to the Consumer & Public Distribution (CA&PD) department to implement 'Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES)' in Jammu and Kashmir from 1st July 2016. As per an official handout, the scheme shall "supplement the Right to Food Security for 5 Kg food grains per soul per month."
Besides, she hiked the wages of Special Police Officers, whereas to accelerate governance, four Groups of Ministers were also constituted.On the administrative front, she went for major reshuffle. 20 IAS and 7 KAS officers were either transferred or posted. Amid so many achievements in a day, Mehbooba remained conspicuous for not going for any reshuffle in police. But in the wake of four civilian killings, reshuffle in police is all set be her next big move.The sources said even though a lobby of ministers was trying to get officers of their choice, mostly relatives to prized postings, Mehbooba wants to give "preference to performance over personal relations."
Among crucial postings have often been that of IGPs of Jammu and Kashmir provinces and the district SSPs.
While BJP will obviously seek officers of its choice for Jammu province, Kashmir is set to be PDP's baby again. But in restive Kashmir the convention has been that situation of law and order in Srinagar has a cascading effect on rest of the Valley. Though SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar has completed his two year tenure and a lobby within PDP wants to replace him with a Kashmiri face, finding his replacement is among the "biggest challenges" for his role in maintenance in law and order.Since 2013, even though militancy has been on revival in the Valley, Srinagar has exceptionally managed to be "militant free district" where reports of rights abuse have been at all times low.Srinagar happens to be the only district of Kashmir where there have been no reports of militant hideouts or sleeper cells while otherwise restive downtown has been comparatively calm during any uprisings elsewhere.
Though earlier, the then Omar Abdullah regime had given the Srinagar charge to a Kashmiri officer, that time complaints of corruption and extortion against police were the "highest. "Amid pros and cons, Mehbooba will have to take strategic decisions including that of retaining or transferring IGP Kashmir SJM Geelani. "Selecting the IGPs and the SSPs will be of crucial importance because these two officials are responsible for the public reaction on the ground, which ultimately affects peace," said Mehbooba's close aide.
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