Kalimpong (WB), Apr 11: The BJP will scrap Article 370 of the constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and introduce the National Register for Citizens (NRC) across the country if voted to power again, BJP chief Amit Shah said on Thursday.
On the campaign trail in West Bengal, he also accused TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee of questioning the Balakot airstrikes to “appease” her minority vote bank, and demanded that she clarify whether she too favoured a separate prime minister for Jammu and Kashmir like her ally, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.
“We will remove Article 370 from Kashmir after forming the next BJP government at the Centre”, Shah told an election rally in the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency where the party has fielded industrialist Raju Singh Bisht.
Shah alleged that Banerjee, who is vehemently opposed to the contentious NRC that is currently restricted to Assam, was “misleading” people, and vowed to introduce it in every state after winning the polls.
“It is our commitment to bring in NRC across the country to chuck out each and every infiltrator. Unlike Mamata Banerjee, we don’t treat infiltrators as our vote bank. For us national security is supreme. We would ensure that each and every Hindu and Buddhist refugee gets citizenship of this country”, he said.
Banerjee has repeatedly claimed that the NRC, which seeks to weed out illegal migrants from Assam, will turn even bonafide Indian citizens into refugees.
The NRC got mired in a massive controversy after the names of around 40 lakh people, living in Assam for decades, were omitted from the complete draft that was released last year.
He also took on the West Bengal chief minister for “questioning the veracity” of the Indian Air Force’s strike in Pakistan’s Balakot to avenge the killing of 40 CRPF troopers in Kashmir, saying the IAF’s assault was mourned in only two places – Pakistan and Mamata Banerjee’s office.
“We came to know that Mamata Banerjee was mourning the air strikes. It is quite obvious that the air strikes will be mourned in Pakistan. But why is Mamata Banerjee mourning? She is mourning in order to appease her minority vote bank.”
“This is a shame”, Shah said, attacking the West Bengal leader.
Mocking the grand opposition alliance proposed by Banerjee, Shah wondered why the Congress and CPI(M) were criticising the TMC if they were her allies.
“I wonder what kind of grand alliance Banerjee is proposing. She is saying vote for the grand alliance. Why are the Congress and CPI(M) criticising her TMC if they are allies at the Centre. The fact is no one is willing to stand with Banerjee. This alliance neither has a leader nor a policy,” he said.
Seeking to reach out to tea garden workers, who constitute a sizeable section of the electorate, the BJP chief said his party’s manifesto has promised to provide a pension of Rs 3,000 to them after the age of 60.
In Assam, where the BJP is in power, the government has transferred Rs 2,500, twice, directly to their bank accounts, he said, claiming the TMC government in West Bengal is neglecting tea garden workers.
Shah said the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal were about “restoring democracy” in the TMC-ruled state.
The BJP is making a determined bid to expand its influence in West Bengal where the support base of the Congress and the Left has shrunk over the years.
Shah has set a somewhat ambitious target of winning 23 of the state’s 42 seats. The BJP had won only two seats in the state in 2014.
Pak reopens airspace
New Delhi, Jul 16: Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday morning, sources said, effectively removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February.
The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.
“Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12.41 am today. Indian airline operators will start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon,” the sources told PTI.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) at around 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, stating that “with immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes”.
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.
On its part, the IAF had announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace.
In India, the biggest pain was suffered by Air India that conducts various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US.
The national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2 due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3.
Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.
IndiGo, India’s largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.
The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refueling.
Uncertainty looms large over EWS quota in NEET
Srinagar, Jul 16: Uncertainty looms large over the implementation of 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in NEET for J&K students.
On June 20, Jammu and Kashmir government approved the reservation (second amendment) bill incorporating 103rd Amendment of the Indian constitution to provide 10 percent reservation to economically weaker sections in jobs and educational institutions.
The amendment will provide for 10 percent reservation to Economically Weaker Sections in educational institutions and direct recruitment in civil posts and services not covered under the scheme of the reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs.
However the authorities are yet to issue a notification for its implementation in NEET. The reservation was not considered in the first round of counseling. Clouds of uncertainty looms large over the second round of counseling as well.
“Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India also granted approval for additional 85 MBBS and 26 BDS seats. However the state government is not issuing notification regarding its implementation which has put the career of students at stake,” said Malik Sujad, a NEET candidate.
Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education, Atal Dullo told The Kashmir Monitor that they have succeeded in getting additional seats allotted from the Medical Council of India.
“Amending rules for EWS has to be done by the social welfare department. After the social welfare department notifies the rules, Board of Professional Entrance Examination will consider those for counseling,” said Dullo.
“It will take time. We will consider EWS in counseling, once we get a nod from Social welfare and parliament,” he added.
Centre proposes to scrap NEET-PG
New Delhi, Jul 16: In a relief to medical students wanting to pursue post-graduate courses, the Union Health Ministry has proposed to do away with NEET-PG and instead the final MBBS examination results would be prerequisite for admission to MD and MS programmes.
The amendment has been incorporated in the revised draft National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill which would be sent to the Cabinet soon, official sources told PTI.
According to them, the changes have been incorporated in the bill on the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“According to the amendments made in the fresh NMC Bill, entry into the PG programmes will be on the basis of the results of the National Exit Test (NEXT), which would be held as a common exam across the country. So the candidates would not have to appear in a separate exam after clearing the MBBS final exam for admission to PG courses,” the source explained.
The students would also not be required to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to obtain a license to practice.
However, for admission to PG programmes at AIIMS, clearing a separate exam will remain mandatory. Also, the NEET Super Speciality, which is a national-level entrance exam for admission in DM/MCh courses, will continue, sources said.
Every year 80,000 students take admission into MBBS courses in about 480 medical colleges in the country, while 1.5 lakh students appear for entrance exams for admission to around 50,000 PG seats.
The NMC Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2017, but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
After its introduction in the lower house in 2017, the Bill, which aims to replace the Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and included the contentious provision of a “bridge course” to allow practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy, was referred to a Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee following massive protests from the medical fraternity.
The first version of the Bill also proposed a national-level licentiate exam for all MBBS graduates for getting licence to practice in India.
But it was removed following strong protests by several doctor bodies.
The provision of the ‘bridge course’ was also strongly opposed by health bodies, including the Indian Medical Association, which claimed that allowing AYUSH doctors to practice modern medicine would promote “quackery”, although the ministry had argued that the provision seeks to address the “acute shortage” of doctors in the country.
The parliamentary panel gave its recommendations in March 2018, following which the Health Ministry scrapped the provision of ‘bridge course and also made some other changes as suggested by the committee before moving the official amendments in the Lok Sabha.
“It has been left to state governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary healthcare in rural areas,” the amendment stated and also made the punishment for unauthorised practice of medicine more severe with imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. (PTI)
Docs remove 25 kg cyst from Kulgam woman carrying it for 2 years
Srinagar, Jul 16: In an astonishing development, doctors Tuesday managed to successfully remove a 25 kg cyst from the ovary of an elderly woman in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The remarkable surgery was accomplished by Dr Azad Malik and his team at Al Hayat, a private nursing home in the district.
The patient, a 72-year-old woman who hails from Kulgam’s Kund area, had visited the doctor for consultation at Dr Malik’s clinic last week.
“She was complaining of abdomen pain, breathlessness and difficulty in walking. Ultra-sonography conducted on the patient revealed a huge mass in her ovary,” news portal The Kashmir Press quoted the doctor saying.
“The patient was operated on Monday and a giant cyst was removed from her ovary. The cyst weighted about 25 kg,” Dr Malik told The Kashmir Press.
He, as per the report, said the cyst weighed more than the weight of a five year old child.
“The cyst was spread from lower abdomen to lungs and patient was living with it for the last two years,” Dr Malik said.
“It was a tough procedure. Patient during the surgery had suffered some cardiac issues but we handled it with all the care. The patient is recovering normally,” he said.
Earlier in 2016, Dr Malik, who is considered as one of the best laparoscopic surgeon in Kashmir, had removed 22 kg ovarian cyst from 16 year girl at district hospital Anantnag.
In 2015, he had performed Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), a rare surgery, on a male patient at district hospital Anantnag.