Noting that the gun culture of the last 20 years had only resulted in bloodshed and destruction, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday asked militants to shun violence and come to the dialogue table to resolve issues amicably.

Mr. Abdullah expressed hope that a better sense will prevail and militants will drop guns forever.

“This will be in their larger interest and the interest of the people”, he said in his Republic Day address to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Nothing has so for either been achieved or will be achieved in future by the bloodshed”, he said, adding that dialogue is the only means to address the problems and solve issues in a conducive atmosphere.

“We will act as a facilitator in the dialogue process between all groups of opinion in the state and the Centre, besides working for restoration of Indo-Pak composite talks”, he said.

The Chief Minister said the task to seek betterment and bright future for youth has been taken by him as a challenge. “I have recognised technology and young people as the two important aspects on which development and prosperity of a nation is dependent. It is for these facts that I have flagged both as important concerns having co-relation“.

He said the announcement of a comprehensive employment policy for youth by his government has been the path breaking step in the 60 years’ history of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Abdullah said his government has provided employment to about 21,000 youth in various government departments during the past year and another 20,000 jobs are in the pipeline.

“Despite financial constraints, my government has implemented the sixth pay commission, enhancing the salaries of government employees”, he said, adding more than 6500 adhoc and contractual employees are being regularised, besides raising the daily rates of daily wagers from Rs 70 to Rs 110.

“Under the power sector, about 2700 MW of power is being generated in the state during the next five years to relieve the people from the problem of load shedding”, he said.

The generation of another 1800 MWs through other projects is also in the offing, he said.

The Chief Minister said that during the last year 1.50 crore gallons of drinking water has been added in the Public Health Engineering (PHE) system in Jammu and Srinagar.

“I am also focussing on upgradation of road communication system in the state and construction of inter district and inter provincial roads. The completion of Mughal road and my travel on the road has realised the dream of Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Mr. Abdullah about connecting Jammu with Kashmir through the historic Mughal road“.

The government has also approved construction of a 4.5 kms tunnel to connect Kishtwar with Anantnag.

Under the skills development programme to enhance employability of youth, he said five new ITIs and 18 polytechnics are being established in the state whereas more 50 ITIs and 140 skills development centres are in the pipeline.

Mr. Abdullah said the government is opening an ayurvedic college in Jammu and Unani college at Srinagar, besides providing required equipment and staff to health institutions. .

“We have also created 5500 posts in the health department to cater to the needs of hospitals in the rural areas“.

The Chief Minister said his government has succeeded in receiving highest—ever annual plan of Rs 550 crore for the current financial year besides getting Rs 1200 crores under prime minister’s reconstruction programme.

Mr. Abdullah said that in order to transfer power to people at grass roots, his government is determined to conduct panchayat and local bodies elections in the state soon.

“This would, on the one hand, provide opportunities to the public representatives at panchayat and municipality levels and on the other, help curb corruption to a large extent”, he said, adding that the year 2010 will be the year of eradication of corruption in the state at all levels.

The Chief Minister said he has underlined close rapport with general masses as the most important aspect of his governance.

“The creation of Chief Minister’s Grievance Cell to keep myself available to people 24 hours is yet another initiatives I have taken”, he said, adding that he personally monitors the cell.

He asked the people to take advantage of this medium to communicate their grievances to him so that action is taken for their redressal.