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Can’t stop contact between militants without impacting all of Kashmir: Jaishankar defends restrictions

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New Delhi: External affairs minister S Jaishankar has defended the restrictions on internet and telephone connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the steps were needed to prevent communications between “militants and their masters”.

Jaishankar, in an interview with Politico newspaper in Brussels, said: “It wasn’t possible to stop communications between militants without an impact on all of Kashmir. How do I cut off communication between the militants and their masters on the one hand, but keep the internet open for other people? I would be delighted to know.”

In Brussels after a visit to Russia, Poland, and Hungary, the Union minister also ruled out talks with Pakistan till the neighbour checked terrorism emanating from its soil.

 

Rejecting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer of “conditional talks” over the Kashmir issue, Jaishankar said India would not be able to think of dialogue when Pakistan “openly practices terrorism”.

Khan, in an editorial published in New York Times, had offered to hold talks if New Delhi reverses its decisions to repeal Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divide the state into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. He had also highlighted the “nuclear shadow” hovering over South Asia as the impetus to begin discussions.

However, Jaishankar ruled out talks with Pakistan, saying: “Terrorism is not something that is being conducted in the dark corners of Pakistan. It’s done in broad daylight.”

The foreign minister also dismissed reports of shortages of medicines and essential items in Kashmir, adding that in the coming days, “you will see an easing up progressively”, which involves a reduction in the number of extra security forces.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have been high since the Narendra Modi government decided to abrogate Article 370. Pakistan, in retaliation, suspended trade ties with India and also expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria. It stopped services of the Samjhauta Express and later knocked on the doors of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in a bid to internationalise the issue.

However, it did not get much success as the international community concluded that the Kashmir issue was a dispute which must be resolved bilaterally. Pakistan has since been trying to garner attention towards alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. India, on the other hand, has turned down offers of mediation — including from US President Donald Trump — saying Kashmir is an internal issue.


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Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award

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New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.

“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.

“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.

Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.

A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.

Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.

The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.

An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.

National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.

The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.

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Transition of JK and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth, says Jitendra

Press Trust of India

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Union minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said the transition of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth and there will be no cadre issues pertaining to IAS or any other services. The mechanism that will finally evolve after due deliberations will be in the best interest of all the stakeholders, the Union Minister of State in-charge of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said, addressing the annual conference of chief secretaries and principal secretaries of all the states and Union territories, organised by his department.

“The transition of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to Union territories will be smooth and there will be no cadre issues pertaining to IAS or any other services,” Singh said at the conference, which was aimed at deliberating upon the issues relating to personnel management of the All India Services officers. The government had taken several initiatives to provide a conducive working atmosphere to the officers so that they could perform to the best of their potential, the minister said.

Last year, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was amended after 30 years to give further protection to honest and performing officers, but at the same time, the government had been very strict in dealing with officials involved in corruption cases or with a record of poor performance, he added.

Singh said the nature of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence had entirely changed in the recent years. Now, civil servants are being rewarded for implementation of the government’s flagship programmes, with a huge participation of the district collectors.

Referring to the government’s decision to post young IAS officers as assistant secretaries in central ministries in order to provide them exposure as regards the functioning of the government, the minister said this will enable them to familiarise themselves with the Centre’s flagship schemes and implement the same when they go to their respective states.

This may help the newly-appointed IAS officers to have a more balanced perspective before they go to their states, he added. Singh also promised full cooperation and coordination from the Centre to ensure a speedy and transparent administration across the country.

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Army nabs Gurdaspur man on charges of spying for Pakistan

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Gurdaspur, September 19: A resident of Tibri village here was nabbed by Army officials for allegedly providing photographs of the cantonment area and the under-construction Kartarpur corridor to someone in Pakistan, police said on Thursday.

Vipan Singh was held by Army personnel on Wednesday, said Kulwinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Purana Shalla police station in Gurdaspur.Officers of the military intelligence were still questioning Singh, the police said, adding that he was yet to be handed over to them.

The suspect was allegedly offered Rs 10 lakh for providing sensitive information, though it was yet be verified, the police said.Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being built by India.

 

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib–the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistan’s Kartarpur–with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib

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