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In Kashmir, Covid-19 draws LG Manoj Sinha and mainstream politicians into a huddle

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday spoke to JandK’s politicians on telephone to sought their suggestions with regard to his overnment’s response to the coronavirus pandemic (Pic: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

For the first time since his taking over in August 2020, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday spoke to Jammu and Kashmir’s senior mainstream politicians—including the former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad—on telephone and sought their suggestions with regard to his government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sinha elaborated on the arrangements made by his government from dealing with the pandemic to the infrastructure development and acquisition of equipment, medicines and vaccines. He expressed his disappointment over the ‘disinformation campaign’ run by some elements with the sinister design of creating panic and crippling the whole Covid management system which, he asserted, was robust. He said that hundreds of general and ICU beds fitted with oxygen supply and other logistic support had been added to the hospitals across Jammu and Kashmir.

As regards the reports of scarcity of oxygen, Sinha told the politicians that there were a total of 17 oxygen manufacturing plants in Jammu and Kashmir when he took over as LG in August 2020. “We have installed 27 more oxygen plants in the last 6-7 months and we have 44 plants operational today. We are commissioning 10 more plants in the next few weeks”, Sinha explained.

The LG observed that the present Covid situation in the Union Territory was well under control.  Besides, the government had ensured an uninterrupted supply of oxygen cylinders.

Sinha observed that the representatives of public and political leaders had an important role to play in these trying times. “With everyone’s support and cooperation, we can successfully break the chain of the spread of Covid pandemic”, he told the politicians invariably. “Let us all come together to protect and save precious lives by discharging our duty towards the society”.

‘The administration is committed to the safety of the people. We are working round-the-clock and doing our best to ensure the availability of all the necessary medicare facilities, besides taking comprehensive measures to strengthen the rapid response mechanism to deal with the emerging situation”, Sinha asserted in the telephonic conversations.

During his telephonic interaction with the politicians, Sinha invited their suggestions for strengthening the control measures being taken by the Government to curtail the spread of this deadly virus. They invariably assured the LG their cooperation in Covid containment efforts of the UT Government.

Sinha has been individually meeting different politicians including NC’s Devinder Singh Rana, CPI (M) Secretary Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami and many from the BJP at the Raj Bhawan. However, it was for the first time that he himself initiated the outreach, called the politicians and sought their views.

Former Deputy Chief Ministers Dr Nirmal Singh (BJP) and Muzaffar Hussain Baig (Peoples Conference), former Ministers Ghulam Ahmad Mir (Congress), Syed Altaf Bukhari (Apni Party), Sajad Lone (PC) besides the former Union Cabinet Minister Saifuddin Soz (Congress), J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina, President Panthers Party Bhim Singh, Congress spokesman Ravinder Sharma and Devender Singh Rana of National Conference joined the telephonic conversation with the LG.

While Farooq Abdullah represented the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other NC leaders, Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was conspicuously absent from the LG’s outreach.

Even as the LG on Monday itself ordered shifting of the senior PDP leader and former Minister Naeem Akhtar from a detention centre to his home, he is understood to have ignored Mehbooba and other PDP leaders in view of the former Chief Minister’s tough stand on restoration of Article 370, 35-A and the erstwhile State flag. Even after her party participated in the District Development Council elections, Mehbooba has called the changes made in August 2019 irreconcilable. Unlike her, leaders of all other parties have been calling and meeting the LG.

The NC President Farooq Abdullah is the only J&K politician visited by Sinha when he was under treatment for Covid at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura early this year. On papers, Farooq is still chairperson of the so-called Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) which has NC and PDP as its key constituents and restoration of Article 370 and J&K’s Statehood as its key demand.