National Conference president and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that if his party is voted to power in the upcoming Assembly elections, “regional autonomy will be granted in J&K within 30 days of his party forming the government”.“A roadmap in this regard has been drawn between 1996 and 2002 and the larger objective of regional autonomy will be politico-economic empowerment of all the regions of the State,” said Dr. Abdullah in Jammu. The National Conference moved a similar resolution on April 13, 1999, and was passed with a voice vote on June 26, 2000. The move triggered a major face-off between Dr. Abdullah’s government and the Centre. The resolution was rejected by Parliament without having any discussion. Dr. Abdullah’s fresh remarks on it came on a day when he welcomed former BJP leader Gagan Bhagat into his party. Mr. Bhagat was ex-MLA of the BJP from R.S. Pura. “A regional autonomy mechanism under overall superintendence of the State government will further strengthen the regional unity, which is imperative for singular entity of J&K,” said Dr. Abdullah.Rally plan foiledMeanwhile, NC workers in Srinagar made an attempt to take out a rally over the killing of seven civilians in security forces firing in Pulwama. However, the police foiled the rally, which was led by NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar.
The Ministry of Tourism’s effort to secure airlift into the island from new and emerging markets is bearing fruit, with the arrival of an inaugural flight from the Czech Republic yesterday (Dec. 28). The 200-seat Boeing 800 aircraft from Prague, with 84 visitors on board, landed at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James. It was the first of 12 rotations that will be coming to Jamaica between December 2012 and April 2013, boosting arrivals for the winter tourist season. Passengers were met and welcomed by tourism sector officials, and were showered with gifts and souvenirs, while enjoying the melodic sounds of a local band. The first three passengers off the flight, as well as the Captain and Chief Flight Engineer, received special gift packages. Deputy Director of Tourism in charge of marketing, Sandra Scott, told JIS News that the inaugural flight from Prague represented the dawn of a new day for Jamaica’s tourism and the fruits of the hard work in the country’s efforts to find new and lucrative markets. “This inaugural flight from Prague is very important to our progress on new and emerging markets. This flight is shared with the Dominican Republic… and we welcome the passengers from this flight as it means a lot to our marketing efforts and our initiatives as we focus on new business. The passengers are really happy as most of them are coming to Jamaica for the first time,” she said. She informed that the passengers would be staying at hotels in resorts areas across the country as a way of “spreading” the business throughout the tourism landscape. Ms. Scott told JIS News that Jamaica will also welcome an inaugural flight from Moscow, Russia on January 1, with “more flights from other countries in Eastern (Europe) going forward.”