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Centre to address over deteriorating Jammu and Kashmir condition

As the situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to deteriorate, the Centre — aiming to soothe frayed tempers within the Valley and bolster the PDP-BJP alliance — has called for a high-level meeting on Thursday to review the release of a relief package for the troubled state.

According to highly placed sources, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has summoned top bureaucrats, including home secretary and defence secretary, and their counterparts from the road transport, tourism and power, to take a call on the release of the package.

They informed that apart from releasing funds for the state, various steps that are required to be taken for bolstering tourism and improving other basic facilities, like roads and power, are likely to be discussed. A review of the prevailing law and order situation may also come up for deliberation during the course of discussion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Rs 80,000crore package for J&K in November 2015 during his visit to the state. It included money for providing relief and rehabilitation of the 2014 flood victims, rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees and Kashmiri pandits, for building of roads and highways, and developing health infrastructure and promoting tourism.

Sources said that not all the funds had been released in totality at that time and the state had received a part of it. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had even said in 2016 that the Centre might add more funds to the Rs 80,000 crore package, depending on resources.

The April-27 meeting called by the PMO, therefore, will also review the possibilities of releasing additional funds in the form of a package.

The development comes after J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti met the Prime Minister earlier this week amid escalating violence in the state. The move to release the relief package is being viewed as a positive signal to the people of the state on behalf of the Centre, as well as to bolster the PDP-BJP alliance ruling the state.

An influential section in the PDP wants Ms Mufti to snap up ties with the BJP. Though her meeting with Mr Modi was seen as a signal that everything was fine between the alliance partners, the Centre’s decision to release funds to the state may send a clear signal that the coalition government in J&K is here for keeps.

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