New Delhi, May 17: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says there is a need to review Article 370 and 35-A that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir to establish whether these Constitutional provisions have benefited or done damage to the militancy-hit state.
Singh’s remark comes against the backdrop of the BJP’s stand in its manifesto pledging to abrogate Article 370 and 35-A of the Constitution.
BJP President Amit Shah has also repeatedly spoken about scrapping these provisions during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.
The home minister also said a decision on holding assembly elections in the state was the prerogative of the Election Commission but indicated a decision could be announced after the completion of the Lok Sabha polls.
Singh was replying to a question during an interview to PTI recently as to whether BJP thinks that abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution will help resolve the Kashmir issue which he termed as challenging.
“Kashmir ek chunauti hai lekin uska hal jaldi niklega (Kashmir is a challenge but it will be resolved soon),” said Singh, who was the chairman of the BJP manifesto committee.
When pointedly asked whether abrogation of Article 370 and 35A was a solution, Singh said, “muje yeh lagta hai ki sameksha kee jani chahiye ki dhara 370 ya 35-A ke karan Kashmir ko laab hua hai ya haani (I feel that a review should be done whether Article 370 or 35-A has benefited Kashmir or damaged it).”
The statement of Singh also comes close on the heels of the statement made by another senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari that the BJP is committed to abrogating Article 370.
Gadkari also went on to say during a TV interview that “because of the sensitive situation, it’s not appropriate to implement that (abrogation of Article 370)”.
“We were in power with full majority this time, still we did no go ahead. However, as far as the party’s philosophy, policy and approach to the issue is concerned, we are firm on it,” Gadkari had said.
While Article 370 gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35-A empowers state’s legislature to define “permanent resident” of the state and reserve their right to employment besides other privileges.
Asked about the timing of assembly elections in the state, Singh said that no doubt the polls should be held.
“The need for security forces for assembly elections is huge and there was a need for deployment in other states as well for Lok Sabha polls. Now that the parliamentary polls are nearing end, the Election Commission can decide on the dates.”
The state was placed under Governor’s rule on June 19 last year after the BJP unceremoniously withdrew support from the PDP led by Mehbooba Mufti. The assembly was dissolved on November 21 by Governor Satya Pal Malik who claimed that he took the step to prevent horse trading.
After six months of Governor’s rule, the state was brought under President’s rule on December 19, 2018 for a period of six months as elections could not be held within six months of imposition of Governor’s rule.
The current spell of the President’s rule will have to be extended again on May 19.
The extension of President’s rule must also be ratified by Parliament once the new Lok Sabha is constituted.
NC, PDP reacts: BJP sensing defeat
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, May 17: Opposition parties in J&K Friday reacted sharply to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reiterating the demand to review the state’s special status enshrined in the Indian constitution under Article 370 and 35A.
In an interview to a news agency, Singh said Kashmir is a challenge but it will be resolved soon. “I feel that a review should be done whether Article 370 or 35-A has benefited Kashmir or damaged it”, said Singh, who was the chairman of the BJP manifesto committee.
Singh’s statement evoked a sharp reaction from the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which described it nothing but a desperate bid by the BJP to garner some votes in the last phase of the polls.
“It seems that they (BJP led NDA) are on way out and people are going to say good bye to them. In a desperate bid they have racked up the issue of special status to get some political benefits. But the reality seems dawned on them that they may not come to power again”, said Ali Mohammad Sagar, General Secretary of National Conference.
Sagar however cautioned New Delhi against revoking Article 370 or 35-A saying it will affect the relationship between Kashmir and union of India. “Nobody can touch Article 370 and 35 A. The articles are the cornerstone of constitutional guarantees given to the state. Plus all parties are on the same page that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir needs to be protected,” he said.
PDP too joined the chorus saying Article 370 and 35A was non-negotiable.
“Sensing trouble, they have been raising different issues right from Hindu-Muslim, Rajiv Gandhi and Article 370. But for us special status of Jammu and Kashmir is non-negotiable. Period,” said Suhail Bukhari, Media Advisor to PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.
Meanwhile, the home minister noted that a decision on holding assembly elections in the state was the prerogative of the Election Commission but indicated a decision could be announced after the completion of the Lok Sabha polls.
Kashmir resolution on cards: Rajnath
‘Agar baat cheet se nahi, to hamey maloom hai kaisey’
Jammu, Jul 20: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday said that the resolution of Kashmir issue is on the cards and “no power on earth can stop it”.
Singh, who visited Kargil War Memorial in Drass sector on Saturday, also inaugurated two bridges in Kathua and Basantar.
“Kashmir samasya ka hal jaldi hi honey wala hai” (resolution of Kashmir issue will take place soon), he said before inaugurating a 1,000 meters long bridge over river Ujh in border Kathua district.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 50 crore, it is the longest ever bridge constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) so far.
Referring to his numerous appeals as Home Minister for talks to all those raking up Kashmir issue, Singh recalled that how Hurriyat leaders did not open their doors for visiting members of the all-party delegation once led by him to the Valley.
“People who are running a movement in Kashmir, if they want a solution through it, I appeal to them to at least sit and talk once, to understand what is the issue, what are the problems, so they could be solved together,” news agency ANI quoted Rajnath saying.
“Resolution of Kashmir issue is bound to take place and no power on earth can stop it,” he said.
“Agar baat cheet se nahi, to kaisey, humey maloom hai” (If not through talks then how, we know it), he added.
“Iska samadhaan ho kar rahey ga. Main jo bolta hoon, souch samaj kar bolta hoon. Aisey hi nahi bolta hoon” (Its resolution is bound to take place. Whatever I say, I say with full responsibility), he said.
Earlier in the day, Singh visited the Kargil War Memorial in Drass and paid tributes to the Indian soldiers killed during the Kargil war.
Inaugurates Ujh Bridge
Ushering in a new revolution in the connectivity of roads and bridges in border areas, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh Saturday inaugurated the 1000 mtr long Ujh Bridge in Pandori village of Kathua district and dedicated it to the Nation.
The event was attended by Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, Chief of Army Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, Director General Border Roads, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, GOC Gurj Division, Maj Gen Y P Khanduri, IGP Jammu zone, Manish Sinha, DC Kathua, Dr. Rghav Langer, SSP Kathua, Sridhar Patil, Former legislators of Kathua and Hiranagar besides many other Army and Civil administration dignitaries.
Terming construction of Ujh bridge a great achievement by BRO, Defence Minister said that the roads and bridges are the lifeline of any nation and play a vital role in the socio economic development of far flung regions and population.
Rajnath Singh praised BRO personnel for working in the most hostile and the difficult areas, away from their families and rendering commendable services through construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in border areas fulfilling the strategic need of Indian Defence Forces.
Reiterating the Central Government
s commitment to the development of connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir area, he said that our Prime Minister is regularly monitoring the progress of these projects and funds are being ensured accordingly.
1000 mtr long Ujh bridge is the longest bridge constructed by BRO and also has the distinction of using technology of pre-cast segmental bridge with 60 mtrs span. It has been constructed at a cost of approx Rs 50 Crore and completed within schedule time. The bridge is located on Parole-Korepunnu-Rajpura road over Ujh river and will provide alternate connectivity along the NH, Defence Minister informed.
Union MoS, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this bridge will provide alternate connectivity during cross border firing and will make life easier for the villagers in the rainy season. He congratulated to all who were present that their long-pending demand now stands realized.
He further said that apart from this bridge, Community and Individual bunkers in border areas, Seema Bhavan, enhancement in SPOs wages, strengthening VDCs and increasing livestock insurance during border skirmishes were few other initiatives which were undertaken during Rajnath Singhs previous tenure as Home Minister to facilitate border dwellers.
Lt Gen. Harpal Singh underlined the contribution of BRO to the nation in far flung areas of the country under extremely difficult and harsh conditions. Admiring the contribution of Project Sampark and congratulating all the employees associated with this project, he offered his sincere thanks to the Defence Minister, MoS PMO, Chief of Army Staff and other dignitaries and locals for their support for completion of this project.
Revival of Ancharsar, Khoshalsar, Gilsar: Centre hasn’t received proposal, LAWDA claims sending 3 yrs ago
Srinagar, Jul 20: Seemingly rebutting the state government, Centre has clarified that they have not received any proposal from the state authorities for the revival of three dying lakes in Srinagar.
In a written reply to a starred question of National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah, the central government told Lok Sabha that they have not received any proposal for revival of three Srinagar lakes — Ancharsar, Khoshalsar and Gilsar — from the state government.
“No proposal for the revival of these three lakes has since been received from the Jammu and Kashmir government,” reads the reply.
Vice-chairman, Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), Sajad Hussain however told The Kashmir Monitor that they have “sent proposal three years back” and he “does not have any information about the new ones.”
Centre, however noted, that as informed by the LAWDA, three important lakes in Srinagar including Ancharsar, Khoshalsar and Gilsar are facing severe threats of pollution from untreated sewage.
Ministry of Environmental Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is currently implementing the centrally sponsored scheme, ‘National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystem (NPCA)’ for conservation and management of identified wetlands in the country on a cost-sharing basis between the Central Government and the respective State Governments.
“The central assistance is based on the proposals received from the state governments in conformity with the guidelines and budget availability”, reads the reply.
“The scheme covers various activities including interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater, shoreline protection, Lakefront development, in-situ cleaning i.e de-silting and de-weeding storm water management, bioremediation, catchment, area treatment, lake beautification, survey and demarcation, bio fencing, fisheries development, weed control, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation and community participation”.
Gilsar Lake is an inter-connected water body of Srinagar. Waters from Dal and Nigeen flows into Gilsar via Nallah Amir Khan and drain into Anchar Lake.
“In absence of any regulation and conservation measures, Gilsar and two other lakes are facing an imminent threat of extinction,” an official of LAWDA said.
He noted that the enormous growth of obnoxious weeds and vegetation has been hampering the smooth flow of water into the lake. “Most of the city waste encompasses plastic and sewage which ends up in the Khushalsar and other water bodies,” he said.
Saudi Arabia starts e-visa for Umrah
Srinagar, Jul 20: Great news in the offing for Indians intending to do Umrah. Now, they can easily apply and get an e-visa to perform the pilgrimage without having to go through the hassle of visiting the embassy.
The Saudi government has made the process of getting an Umrah visa fairly easy ensuring that Indian Muslims no longer require visiting the embassy offices in New Delhi or Mumbai.
The aspirants can simply fill up the form on the embassy website personally or through a travel agent and get their e-visa.
The efforts are a part of Vision 2030 which aims to ease the process of performing Hajj and Umrah along with providing the best facilities for pilgrims.
Very soon Hajj and Umrah visa will also allow pilgrims to travel to other parts of the Kingdom.
With Saudi Ambassador in India, Dr Saud Mohammed Al Sati at the forefront of these developments, they will definitely cut the paper-work and considerably reduce the inconvenience that pilgrims may otherwise have been facing so far.
With Vision 2030 serving as a blueprint, the Kingdom is working on the strategic objective of welcoming 30 million pilgrims each year to perform Hajj and Umrah.
The third phase of expansion of the Grand Mosque, launched by King Salman, is making good progress. Expansion of the building itself covers 1.47 million square meters, including 78 new gates. The various new infrastructure and transportation projects are shaping up beautifully.
In this new era of development, the Kingdom sees India as an important partner.
“In our common pursuit for development and stability, Saudi Arabia sees India as an important partner. Our ties trace their roots to the third millennium BC. Trade, science, arts, literature, languages — the exchanges between our civilisations have indeed been profound. India holds a special place for us,” Dr Sati said earlier this year.
The Kingdom is well aware of how important India and Indians are for it considering that nearly 3 million Indians form the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia.
India has also seen its Haj quota of 1,36,020 increase consecutively during the last two years to a record 1,75,025.