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Huge voter turnout in bypolls high point of Azad's tenure

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, May 3 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's first six months in office have been eventful with the high points being the unprecedented voter turnout in the April 24 bypolls in four Assembly constituencies and the significant progress made in the ongoing dialogue process between the Centre and the separatists.

When Mr Azad was sworn-in as the tenth Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on November two last year, a number of challenges stood before him.

The first and foremost task was relief and rehabilitation of the survivors of the devastating earthquake that struck on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) on October 8 last year, killing tens and thousands of people and rendering millions homeless on both sides of the divide.

But for few complaints in relief distribution, the rehabilitation work has been going on in full swing with majority of the survivors being provided with the temporary sheds and financial assistance.

Mr Azad has also been instrumental in persuading the Centre to hold talks not only with the Hurriyat Conference, but other separatist groups as well.

In a series of measures to broaden the scope of the dialogue process beyond the moderate Hurriyat Conference and arrive at a consensus on the vexed Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first invited People's Conference chairman Sajjad Ghani Lone for talks on January 14.

To carry forward the dialogue, Dr Singh held talks with Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik on February 17.

Mr Azad also played a key role in the Centre's landmark decision to call a round-table conference on Kashmir.

On February 25, the Prime Minister convened the first ever all party conclave to ascertain views of all groups, including political leaders, separatists, academicians, NGO's and others from Jammu and Kashmir and arrive at a broad-based consensus on the imbroglio.

The move was dubbed as a ''bold initiative'' towards resolution of the long-festering Kashmir issue, but lost much of its sheen due to non-participation of the secessionists.

Around 50 people from Jammu and Kashmir were invited to the first round-table conference and the next would be held here on May 25.

To further consolidate the dialogue process, the Prime Minister is again meeting a six-member moderate Hurriyat Conference delegation, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in New Delhi this evening.

This would be the second round of talks between Dr Singh and the moderate Hurriyat leaders within eight months after the first meeting took place on September five last year.

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