New Delhi, Apr 9: The people of Kashmir ‘want a change, including Article 35A and Article 370’ as they hinder development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
“The problem in Kashmir is largely due to the 50-odd political families there. They have been milking the issue. They don’t want any benefit to be given to the common Kashmiri people. They are using public sentiment for political gains. The income tax department has cracked down on such elements,” Modi said in an interview with News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi.
He said that people of Kashmir “want freedom from political families.”
“While stone-throwers are funded by Pakistan to protect militants, when there is crackdown by the NIA on terror operators, people stand outside their homes and clap. People of Kashmir want freedom from such political families who have been preying on their emotions for 50 years. The situation in Kashmir is such that people want change, whether it is about Article 35A or 370,” Prime Minister said.
Modi said it was the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies which were an obstacle for the development in the Valley.
“There must be investment and job opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir. 35A, 370 have been standing in the way of development. No one goes there to invest. We can build IIMs, but professors are not ready to go there as their children don’t get admission in schools. They can’t find homes. This ends up harming the interests of J&K. Pandit Nehru’s policies stand as an obstacle for J&K today. It needs to be reviewed,” the Prime Minister said.
Blaming Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have better handled the Kashmir issue and the Valley would not have remained ‘mired in controversy’.
Blaming Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have better handled the issue and the Valley would not have remained ‘mired in controversy’.
He added that it was imperative that people in the rest of the country see ‘the progress’ in Kashmir. “Kashmiris have excelled in sports and competitive exams. Any top university today has Kashmiri students. We must encourage this.”
Modi also said the conflict in Kashmir valley “was limited to just ‘dhai’ (two and half) districts”, and the state largely remained stable under the BJP government. “There is no problem in Ladakh and Jammu. It is only two-and-a-half districts in Kashmir valley where there is a problem. We see these districts as the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. This narrative must change,” Modi said.
Modi claimed the BJP government had continued spending on development in the valley and had dealt with the state in a fair manner. “India has not done anything that should make Kashmir feel neglected or ill-treated. But we must treat this issue with sensitivity and understanding.”
In its manifesto, Sankalp Patra, the BJP has promised the abrogation of Article 370 if the party retains power in the Lok Sabha elections.
Targeting the Congress’s manifesto over its proposal of reviewing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said revoking the Act would be equivalent to sending soldiers to the gallows.
“The government must have the power to protect its armed forces. Only then will they have the morale to fight. Revoking AFSPA would be like sending our soldiers to the gallows. I won’t let this happen,” Modi said.
Emphasising on the need for the Act in a disturbed area such as Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said the government must first create an environment where AFSPA is unnecessary before revoking or diluting it. He also gave the example of Arunachal Pradesh, where the government partially revoked the Act earlier this month.
“First, we revoked it from a few districts in Arunachal. We then revoked it from a few other states. We were the first government to take such a step since 1980. But we have maintained law and order,” Modi said.
The Congress election manifesto, released last week, proposed a review of the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir. It also promised revocation or amendment of several other laws like sedition and defamation. This led to condemnation from BJP leaders. However, the Congress clarified it only intended to modify AFSPA in instances of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Following the release of the grand old party’s manifesto, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the vision document was full of “dangerous ideas” that could lead to the “Balkanisation” of India. Jaitley went on to say that it seemed the Congress manifesto was drafted by the “Tukde Tukde Gang”, an oft-used BJP euphemism for those whom the party felt were working against the integrity of the nation state.
Modi took a similar view on the matter and said the Congress manifesto was ‘soft on terror’. “We are at the crossroads of eliminating militancy. Militants are demoralised and we are winning a psychological war against them,” he said.
Modi also said the Congress party’s views on the army were akin to that of Pakistan. “No patriot will tolerate this language. Their manifesto talks about removing AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. This amounts to removing weapons from a soldier’s hands,” he added.
The AFSPA provides special powers such as arrest without warrant, fire upon or use force against those acting against law and order, legal immunity, among others, to armed forces in a disturbed area. The Act has come under the scanner for human rights violations in regions of effect.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said there will be no option with the government other than abolishing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Constitution if there is a demand for a separate Prime Minister for the militancy-affected state.
Earlier, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said that his party would strive for restoring the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir that includes having a ‘Sadar-e-Riyasat’ (President) and ‘Wazir-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister).
“Someone who has been chief minister for a long time has said that there should be a Prime Minister in Jammu and Kashmir. If someone talks like that, we will have no option other than abolishing Article 370 and Article 35A,” Singh said.
CJI’s office comes under RTI, rules SC
New Delhi, Nov 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the office of the Chief Justice of India was a public authority and fell within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict and dismissed three appeals filed by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court.
Cautioning that RTI could be used as a tool of surveillance, the top court in its judgment, held that judicial independence had to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.
The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said only the names of judges recommended by the Collegium for appointment could be disclosed, not the reasons.
While the CJI and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna penned one judgment, Justices Ramana and Chandrachud wrote separate verdicts.
It said that the Right to Privacy was an important aspect and it had to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice. Justice Chandrachud said the judiciary could not function in total insulation as judges enjoy constitutional posts and discharge public duty.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna said independence of the judiciary and transparency went hand in hand.
Justice Ramana, who concurred with Justice Khanna, said there should be a balancing formula for Right to Privacy and right to transparency and independence of judiciary should be protected from breach.
The High Court on January 10, 2010 had held that the CJI office came within the ambit of the RTI law, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him.
The 88-page judgment was seen as a personal setback to the then CJI, K G Balakrishnan, who had been opposed to disclosure of information relating to judges under the RTI Act.
The high court verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah (since retired) and Justices Vikramjit Sen and S Muralidhar. The bench had dismissed a plea of the Supreme Court that contended bringing the CJI’s office within the RTI Act would ‘hamper’ judicial independence.
Justice Sen has retired from the apex court, while Justice Murlidhar is a sitting judge of the High Court.
The move to bring the office of the CJI under the transparency law was initiated by RTI activist S C Agrawal. His lawyer Prashant Bhushan had submitted in the top court that though the apex court should not have been judging its own cause, it was hearing the appeals due to the “doctrine of necessity”.
The lawyer had described the reluctance of the judiciary in parting information under the Right To Information Act as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘disturbing’, asking: “Do judges inhabit a different universe?”
He had submitted the apex court had always stood for transparency in functioning of other organs of State, but it developed cold feet when its own issues required attention. Referring to the RTI provisions, Bhushan had said they also deal with exemptions and information that cannot be given to applicants, but the public interest should always ‘outweigh’ personal interests if the person concerned is holding or about to hold a public office. Dealing with ‘judicial independence’, he said the National Judicial Accountability Commission Act was struck down for protecting the judiciary against interference from the executive, but this did not mean that judiciary is free from ‘public scrutiny’.
Transparency activists on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the apex court had reiterated the established position in law in the matter.
“I welcome the decision of the constitution bench to reiterate the established position in law that the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,” said Venkatesh Nayak, head of access to information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO.
About the Supreme Court’s remark that RTI could not be used as a tool of surveillance, Nayak termed it as an “extremely unfortunate” observation. “Surveillance has unfortunately been equated with transparency that is required under a law duly passed by Parliament,” he told PTI.
Nayak said surveillance was what the government often does under executive instructions and that was not the purpose of the RTI Act. “People whose cases relating to their life, liberty, property and rights, are decided by the high courts and the Supreme Court. People have the right to know not only the criteria but all material that formed the basis of making the decision regarding appointments of judges in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act,” he said.
Nayak said where exemptions were available under the RTI Act, they would be legitimately invoked by public authorities and all other information should be in the public domain. He said the appointment of judges, who were public functionary, was a public act.
“People have the right to know everything that is done in a public way by a government, in a democratic country, which must be accountable and responsible,” Nayak said. Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also hailed the top court’s decision. “I had expected the same decision to come as logically there was nothing else. It is unfortunate that this has taken 10 years. The CIC has upheld this. The Delhi HC had also upheld this. Now, the SC has upheld this. All public servants that are paid by the government are a public service, no matter what the position is. You need to be accountable for your work. I congratulate the Chief Justice and the court for having given such a decision,” he said.
RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal lauded the top court’s verdict. “I welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict. It is a victory of the RTI Act,” he said.
Another activist Ajay Dubey said the apex court’s decision was ‘historic’. “It is a historic decision and I welcome it. All decisions made by a public authority must be in public domain and under the RTI Act,” he said.
Dubey, however, expressed shock over the top court’s remark that the RTI Act cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.
Shopkeeper shot dead in Tral
Srinagar, Nov 13: Unidentified gunmen shot dead a shopkeeper at Tral in South Kashmir’s Puwlama district on Wednesday, police said.
The slain was in his shop near Old Bus Stand, Tral, 36 kms from here, when pistol borne masked men shot at him from point-blank range at around 3 p.m.
Zarger was immediately shifted to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.
A police official while confirming the killing said the slain hailed from Tral town.
Reports said the killing created panic in the town.
In recent weeks, militants have started targeting civilians and hurling grenades at crowded places to impose shutdown in the Valley.
Last Monday one civilian died while over 40 were injured when militants threw a grenade in a crowded market near city center Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
Prior to that, non-local laborers, truck drivers and fruit traders were targeted by the militants in south Kashmir.
On August 30, unidentified gunmen shot dead a 65-year-old shopkeeper at Parimpora area of Srinagar. On September 30, unidentified gunmen shot at apple grower at Sopore leaving the grower and four others including a four-year-old girl injured.
The Valley witnessed spontaneous shutdown after the Center abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5.
However, in recent weeks the impact of the shutdown is waning as more and more people are resuming their normal activities across Kashmir.
Yet another accident: Four killed, 5 injured in Kishtwar mishap
Jammu, Nov 13: Four people were killed and five others injured when a vehicle skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district on Wednesday, officials said.
The vehicle, carrying pilgrims from Palmar to the Sarthal temple, fell into the gorge after the driver lost control over it, they said.
Police and locals rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to a district hospital in Kishtwar, where doctors declared four of them brought dead, the officials said.
Three critically injured people were shifted to the Government Medical College here through a chopper for specialised treatment.
District administration, Kishtwar, provided immediate relief of Rs 10,000 each to the family members of the deceased and 5,000 each to the injured.
This is the second such incident in 24 hours as 16 people, including five women and three children, were killed on Tuesday when a passenger vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Doda district.