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CBI probe recommended in JK gun license racket

Press Trust of India

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Jaipur, July 22: The Rajasthan Police has recommended a CBI probe in the gun-licensing racket after role of public officials, especially some IAS officers from Jammu and Kashmir, came to the fore during investigations carried out by the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), officials said.

Director General of Rajasthan Police O P Galhotra has written to the state’s home department suggesting “transfer of the case” to the CBI without any further delay, they said.

The state police chief said the case pertains to the issuance of arms licenses in “fraudulent manner by various authorities in Jammu and Kashmir”.

 

“In view of the large scale of the scam, involvement of public officials of Jammu and Kashmir and the implication on the national security, the police headquarters had recommended in December 2017 that the case need to be transferred to the CBI for comprehensive investigation.

“The decision of the government in this regard is still awaited,” Galhotra said, while drawing attention towards the recent deliberations with the Rajasthan home minister to seek early transfer of the case to the CBI.

On July 20, the case was sent to Chief Minister VasundharaRaje’s office to refer the file to Department of Personnel and Training, the nodal ministry for the CBI, the officials said.

The ATS probe so far has indicated involvement of some IAS officers of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre in issuance of arms licenses on forged documents.

According to the police probe, around 4.29 lakh arms licences have been issued in the last one decade from various districts of the militancy-hit state.

Taking cognisance of the ATS’ requests, pending since last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a notification on July 12 asking divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners to submit a detailed report on arms licences issued last year.

The deputy commissioners of all districts have been barred from issuing any further arms licences till further orders, it said.

According to ATS officials, 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 licences in Jammu region’s Doda, Ramban and Udhampur districts were issued to those residing outside the state. The figure for the entire state is 4,29,301, of which just over 10 per cent were issued to residents in the state.

The brother of a senior IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir was arrested by the ATS in Gurugram, Haryana, after it was alleged that he had received Rs 40 lakh from the arms lobby, they said.

The probe had also brought over 3,000 gun licenses that had been issued in the name of purported army personnel who had served in Jammu and Kashmir under the scanner of ATS who had asked the army to verify the names following suspected involvement of a gang to procure them illegally, they said.

The case dates back to November last year when the Rajasthan police’s ATS carried out an operation, codenamed “Jubaida”, and arrested 52 people for their alleged involvement in getting gun licenses issued from various districts of Jammu and Kashmir under suspicious circumstances. The licenses included 3,367 in the name of purported army personnel, the officials said.

Letters were written in this connection to the Army, Indian Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, seven para-military forces including the Border Security Force(BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Railway Protection Force(RPF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

While most of them have replied, a comprehensive response from the army was still awaited, notwithstanding the reminders, the officials said.

As far as other organisations are concerned, the Navy informed the police that out of the list of 26 personnel submitted, only 14 cases were genuine, the officials said, adding this will help to find out how the remaining 12 people allegedly posing themselves as Navy personnel got the gun license from J and K.

The IAF was provided with a list of 39 people by the ATS out of which the credentials of only 17 were found to be correct. Similarly, of the 548 BSF personnel, records for 471 were received out of which cases of only 336 personnel were found correct, the officials said.

The CRPF list stood at 424 out of which 237 were found correct, the officials said, adding, among other forces, only 154 out of 387 were found correct for the Central Industrial Security Force(CISF), SeemaSashtraBal(SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP), National Security Guards(NSG), Coast Guard, Railway Protection Force(RPF), National Cadet Corps(NCC) and the NDRF.


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Imran dials Modi, pushes for better Indo-Pak ties

PM stresses on ‘creating environment free of terrorism’

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New Delhi, May 26: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his desire to work for peace, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Faisal said.

During the phone call, Modi underlined the importance of creating trust and an environment free of “terrorism” for peace in South Asia.

“PM spoke to PM Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in Lok Sabha elections in India. PM expressed his desire for both countries to work together for betterment of their peoples,” Faisal said in a Twitter post.

 

“Reiterating his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Modi to advance these objectives,” Faisal’s second post said.

According to a release from the Indian foreign ministry, Modi “thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his telephone call and greetings”.

“Recalling his initiatives in line with his government’s neighbourhood first policy, Prime Minister Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to fight poverty jointly. He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,” the release stated.

Khan had on Thursday posted a congratulatory message on Twitter saying he looked forward to work with Modi on furthering peace in South Asia. “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan said in the post.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday scored a major win by snaring 303 seats in the 545-member Parliament.

In his response to Khan’s post congratulating him on Thursday, Modi tweeting:” Thank you PM @ImranKhanPTI. I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region.”

In a recent interview, PM Modi had said the “way ahead” with the neighboring nation Pakistan depends on the action it takes against militancy. Modi’s Balakot air strike in Pakistan before the polls soared his popularity in India. The IAF air strike and action against Pakistan featured many times during Modi’s Lok Sabha election campaign.

Before the elections began, Khan also batted for a second-term for BJP saying there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if the incumbent government is back.

The exchanges between the two leaders came after a period of heightened tensions between the two countries earlier this year after the 14 February suicide attack on a paramilitary convoy that killed 40 paramilitary personnel in Pulwama.

With Jaish-e-Mohammed claiming the Pulwama bombing, India on 26 February launched a “pre-emptive” strike on a militant training facility in Pakistan’s Balakot region.

Pakistan retaliated a day later launching an air raid on Indian military facilities in Kashmir, thus deepening tensions between the two countries. Pakistan also shot down an Indian Air Force jet and captured the pilot of the downed aircraft, who was handed back to India two days later.

Talks between the two countries have been at a standstill since 2013 but there has been speculation that the two sides could explore possibilities for engagement after the polls in India. Modi is set to come face to face with Imran Khan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Bishkek in June. Last month, Khan told a group of journalists that there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settling of the Kashmir dispute if Modi’s party — the Bharatiya Janata Party — won the general elections a second time.

Pak ready for talks with new Indian Govt: Qureshi

Press Trust of India

Islamabad, May 26: Pakistan is ready to hold talks with the new Indian government to resolve all outstanding issues, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.

Addressing an Iftar dinner in Multan on Saturday, Qureshi said both India and Pakistan should sit on negotiation table to solve issues for the sake of prosperity and peace of the region, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a victory for a second term in office.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph and expressed desire to work with him for peace and prosperity in the region.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan tweeted in both English and Urdu.

In April, Khan said he believed there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Modi’s party wins the general elections.

The results of India’s general elections are very significant for Pakistan as the new government in New Delhi will determine the course of Indo-Pakistan ties, which were pushed to a new low after the Pulwama attack.

Just a day before the announcement of results, Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

He conveyed to her Pakistan’s desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.

Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed over 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried air strikes in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India.

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Balakot was to ensure ‘terrorists’ don’t act against India: Gen Rawat

Press Trust of India

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Ezhimala (Kerala), May 26: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bipin Rawat has said the Balakot attack in February was to ensure that ‘terrorists’ trained across the border do not survive to carry out action against India.

“Coordinated efforts are being made by various government agencies to tackle cross-border terrorism,” he said.

“Through the coordinated efforts of various government agencies, now the NIA has stepped in, the Enforcement Directorate has stepped in and all are trying to ensure financing and funds available to terrorists are cut off,” he said, responding to a question on insurgency in Kashmir at a media interaction here.

 

He also said the “situation there has been brought under control.”

Rawat said the country has been facing “terrorism” since Independence and that security forces and all agencies supporting them have met these challenges head on.

“We have been able to ensure that the insurgency has been brought under control. Of course in the Kashmir Valley, we have been witnessing ups and downs of insurgencies.

“That’s because they got support from our western neighbour. At the same time many (people) are misguided due to a misinformation campaign spread by terrorists. But we have brought the situation under control,” he said.

The Chief of Army staff was interacting with the media here on Saturday after reviewing the passing-out parade of 264 trainees, comprising midshipmen and cadets of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and 10 international cadets.

Asked about the radar comment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rawat said some types of radar cannot see through clouds because of the manner in which it is operates.

“There are various kinds of radars working with different technologies. Some have the capacity to see through, some don’t have the capacity to see through.

“Some kinds of radar cannot see through clouds because of the manner in which it is operating. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t,” Rawat said.

In a television interview aired recently, Modi had said he used his “raw wisdom” to dispel doubts of defence experts, who wanted the air strike to be deferred due to bad weather.

“The weather was not good on the day of air strike. There was a thought that crept in the minds of the experts that the day of strike should be changed.

“However, I suggested that the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars,” Modi had said while talking about the cross-border strike on terror camps in response to the Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

The prime minister’s comment drew widespread ridicule and condemnation from various quarters, including a large number of memes on the social media.

The cadets who passed out Saturday marked the culmination of their training at the Indian Naval Academy (INA) here.

The passing-out parade was reviewed by General Rawat and meritorious midshipmen and cadets were awarded medals after the ceremonial review.

INA Commandant Vice Admiral R B Pandit and Director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Anurag Kumar, were in attendance at the parade.

The parade also saw 15 female cadets marching shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts to join the ranks of the Indian Navy, a release issued by the Academy said.

There were 10 trainees from various friendly nations, including two each from Maldives, Myanmar and Seychelles, one from Tanzania and three from Sri Lanka.

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Process begins to fill 6 LC Seats from Panchayat, ULB quota

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 26: The State Election Authority has begun a process for conducting elections to six vacancies in the Legislative Council – four from the quota of Panchayats and two from the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the state.

The Legislative Council membership is limited to 40 seats. However, as per Section 50 of the State Constitution, the Legislative Council has strength of 36 seats.

Presently, there are 14 vacancies in the Legislative Council, taking its strength down to 22. Eight members had retired in March this year and these vacancies would be filled only when the Legislative Assembly is in place.

 

Similarly, there are four seats earmarked for Panchayats and two for municipalities to be filled by the electorate of Panchayats and ULBs.

The Chief Electoral Officer has written to the Governor administration to form Electoral College and submit list of designated returning and assistant returning officers for conduct of elections to six vacancies.

“Once the process of Electoral College and appointment of officers is completed, we will announce the dates for elections,” Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Shailendra Kumar said.

In absence of State Election Commission, the Chief Electoral Officer has designated powers of State Election Authority.

The Panchs and Sarpanchs form the Electoral College for elections to seats from Panchayat quota while municipal councilors form Electoral College for elections to two seats from the quota of ULBs.

Of the four Panchayat seats, two seats are reserved for each Kashmir and Jammu regions. Similarly, both regions get one each seat under Municipal quota.

The seats of Panchayat are vacant since Shehnaz Ganaie, Ali Mohammad Dar of National Conference and Sham Lal Bhagat and Ghulam Nabi Monga from Congress completed their term in December last year.

Out of 22 members in Legislative Council, the BJP has 10 members followed by PDP (8) National Conference (3) and Congress (1).

Earlier in February this year, the State Administrative Council (SAC) under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik approved taking up the matter with the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the proposal for holding of elections to the six vacant seats in the J&K Legislative Council.

The Panchayat elections were conducted in November-December 2018 for 4483 Panchayats with a Sarpanch for each Panchayat Halqa and 35029 Panchs in the state. The Urban Local Bodies Election were held in October last year after a span of 13-years.

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