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Delhi’s ‘experiments’ have pushed JK several years back: Omar

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar, Nov 26: The NDA government’s handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in an ad-hoc and experimental manner has pushed the state several years back, former chief minister Omar Abdullah claimed on Monday.

After a hectic political week, Omar feels the BJP is yet to answer many questions, including “why it entered an alliance with the PDP and why it withdrew all of a sudden?”

Another question which the people of the state will definitely be asking is why despite having 26 MLAs, the BJP decided to lend support to a two-member party (led by Sajad Lone), he said.

With his National Conference already into election mode, Omar criticised the BJP over its handling of the political turmoil in Kashmir. “Keeping in mind the 2019 elections, the BJP keeps changing its goalposts, confusing people. They have pushed the state several years back,” he claimed.

Commenting on the alliance of ‘conflicting and contrasting’ ideologies, Omar told PTI, “When the BJP and the PDP united, it was stated that the north pole and the south pole had come together and an ‘Agenda of Alliance’ had been stitched. Has any of the promises been fulfilled by them? Now see what has happened in Jammu and Kashmir… Look at the present political crisis in the state.”

“Forget about initiating talks with Pakistan, they refuse to hold a dialogue with separatists,” he said.

About the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Omar said, “In 2011 or 2012, there was a talk about AFSPA’s withdrawal from some areas, as peace had returned. But, can we say that today. The footprint of the Army and para-military forces has doubled from where we left in 2014, only because all types of experiments were carried out in Kashmir and all of them failed.”

The vice president of the National Conference reiterated his views on the “unceremonious” dissolution of the state assembly by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21.

“Till a few days ago, the governor wanted to keep the assembly alive. Overnight, it changed only because the PDP staked claim to form a government with the help of the Congress and my party,” he said.

“Within no time, the BJP and its proxies pulled out their weapon of mass destruction — Pakistan. We were accused of attempting to form a government at the behest of Pakistan. Can you beat it? Can someone ask them (the BJP) how did Mehbooba ji turn into a Pakistani suddenly when barely five months ago she was their alliance chief minister?” he said.

For the BJP, it seems my-way-or-highway policy but they need to be reminded that India is a democratic country, Omar said.

“The BJP had swept the Jammu region in previous assembly elections but today, they stand exposed. They will have to do a lot of answering this time. And one should not forget (to ask) why was the assembly kept in suspended animation. Was it done to allow Lone to keep on poaching MLAs from other parties, either with money or by threatening to open cases using the NIA and the CBI,” he added.

Asked about the Twitter spat with BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, Omar said, “Look I’m a fairly thick-skinned person when I need to be… If he (Madhav) had challenged my patriotism, I would have cared two hoots for his utterances. I don’t need anyone’s certificate about my patriotism, nor will I ever be pressured into wearing it on my sleeves.

“But the question was about my workers, nearly 3,000 of them, who have been targeted by Pakistani groups only because they refuse to join an anti-India bandwagon. These people died because we held on to the flag of the nation as soldiers do with the only difference being that my colleagues had no weapons to defend themselves with.”

Omar also drew attention to media reports that quoted senior BJP leader Seshadri Chari about a meeting he had with the NC leader in London, saying he had rejected the idea of forming a government with the BJP even then.

About Madhav’s tweets, Chari was quoted by a web portal as saying, “If somebody decides to be a political novice, we can do nothing about it.” However, he had said that it was not the party’s official stand.

To a question on a possible alliance with the Congress at a time when the National Conference has been favouring a single-party rule, Omar said, “Yes, I would wish to have a single party rule as there have been coalition governments since 2002. But having said that let me make it clear that it’s my opinion and I am yet to consult my senior party colleagues.”

“I need to consult them before arriving at a final decision,” he said, and added with a smile, “our party works democratically”.

Asked whether a third front led by Lone would be a force to reckon with in the forthcoming elections, he said, “Let us see. Let the centre first announce dates for the assembly elections.”

 

‘What are Norwegians upto in Kashmir?’

Srinagar, Nov 26: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday asked Government of India to put in “correct context” the recent visit of former Norwegian premier to both parts of divided Kashmir.

Taking to Twitter, Omar asked foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and national Security Advisor Ajit Doval to clear the stand on the recent visit of former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik to Kashmir parts.

“What are the Norwegians up to in Kashmir? Would either @SushmaSwaraj ji or Doval ji care to put the visit of the former Norwegian PM to both sides of the divided state in the correct context or do we have to rely on rumours & conjecture?” Omar wrote on his twitter handle.

Soon after the tweet, when News18 network reported that Omar was upset over the Norwegian leader’s visit, the NC leader replied: “Please show me where in my tweet I’ve said or even hinted I’m upset? All I’m asking is for some clarity as to what is happening. Please don’t use my shoulder to fire the gun of your agenda. For the record I’m NOT upset in the least & welcome any initiative to break the ice.”

On November 23, Bondevik met two top Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who briefed the former Norwegian premier about the “fragile” political situation in Kashmir and the need for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Bodevik then went to New Delhi where he met top political bigwigs, according to media reports.

Bodovik also visited the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Muzaffarabad, and discussed the “latest situation” in Jammu and Kashmir with the PaK president Sardar Masood Khan.

Bondevik briefed PaK president Khan about his visit to Srinagar and a meeting with the Joint Resistance Leadership there, reports said.

Norway has a history of resolving conflicts in several countries in a peaceful manner.


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SC poser to JK on Resettlement Act

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Dec 13: The Supreme Court, which is hearing a plea challenging the validity of the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, sought to know Thursday as to how many people who migrated from the state have applied for returning from Pakistan.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the state government’s counsel to take instruction on the issue and posted the matter for further hearing on January 22.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the state, told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, that he will seek instruction from the competent authority and give the details about the migrants and their descendants who may have applied for returning under the law.

The apex court wanted to know how many migrants and their descendants have applied and whether applications for return have been made by permanent residents — persons who are being given special rights and privileges under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.

The top court was apprised that the Act was meant for those people who have migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and were willing to return.

During the brief hearing, the bench showered several questions for the lawyers appearing in the matter, to the extent of the meaning of the term descendant under the law.

Dwivedi along with Jammu and Kashmir’s standing counsel Shoeb Alam said a letter has been circulated seeking adjournment of the matter saying that it should be heard after other contentious issue pertaining to Article 35-A and Article 370.The apex court is seized of the petitions on both the issue.

Article 35-A empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.

Article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state.

The Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, which was stayed by the apex court in 2001, envisages grant of permit for resettlement of Pakistani nationals who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir between 1947 and 1954 after India’s partition.

The petitioner, Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party (JKNPP) is arguing the matter through its Chief and senior advocate Bhim Singh.

Singh has contended that the matter has been pending for long and needs to be decided.

The top court had on August 16, 2016 indicated that it may refer the matter to a constitution bench if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution.

The court had said that it will hear the matter and if during the course of proceedings it is found that no constitutional issue is involved, then it will pass an order.

JKNPP had earlier told the court that a division bench in 2008 had issued direction to list the case before a constitution bench but the Chief Justice in the same year had over-ruled the decision and ordered the matter to be listed before a three judge bench.

It had said that people of Jammu and Kashmir who migrated to Pakistan from 1947 could be considered for their return but their descendants could not be.

The party had said that the law passed by the Assembly was draconian, unconstitutional and improper which threatened the security of the state. JKNPP through Harsh Dev Singh, a then MLA, had challenged the Act passed by the J&K Assembly in 1982.In 1982, the Act was first challenged by Singh before the apex court and then Governor B K Nehru had refused to sign the Bill and sent it back to the Assembly.

Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then President of newly constituted BJP, had also filed a petition before the apex court seeking intervention.

Singh said that even B K Nehru, an Indian diplomat and native of Kashmir was convinced that the Act suffered from many defects and constitutional error.

The matter was considered by the Constitution Bench of the SupremeCourt in 2001 on a presidential reference. The apex court returned the reference to President with a three-word pronouncement: ‘Returned, respectfully, unanswered’.

Singh in 2001 had filed a writ petition in the apex court seeking quashing of the Resettlement Act.

The top court while admitting the plea had ordered for stay of operation of the Act and in 2008, the matter was referred to the constitution bench on the plea that the subject relates to the interpretation of the Constitution of India.

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Two LeT militants killed in Sopore gunfight

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Srinagar, Dec 13: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were Thursday killed an encounter that broke out on Wednesday evening after a search operation was launched in Brath Kalan area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

Police said that a joint operation was launched by police and government forces on Wednesday during which the militants, who were hiding in the area, fired upon the search party, which was retaliated, thus leading to a gunfight.

“In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” police said while identifying the slain militants as Owais Ahmad Bhat alias Abu Bakar, son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat of Gund Brath Sopore and Tahir Ahmad Dar alias Abu Abdullah, son of Mohammad Ramzan Dar of Saidpora Sopore.

Police spokesman confirmed that the duo killed in the gunfight was affiliated with LeT.


“Huge quantity of arms and ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other cases,” police said.

Police urged people not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. “People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any,” police said.

Later, the funeral prayers of slain militants witnessed a huge gathering of people in Sopore area.

Locals said that people from different parts of Sopore visited the residences of slain militants and participated in their funeral prayers. The duo was later laid to rest at their ancestral graveyard in Brath Village and Shadipora area of Sopore town.

A spontaneous shutdown was observed in the town following the killing of the two militants.

All the shops and business establishments are closed while as traffic is off the roads.

Reports said that clashes also erupted in many parts of Sopore town during the day.

An eye witness said that the youth hurled stones on the forces withdrawing from the Brath Gund area soon after the gunfight ended.

The forces, he said, fired tear gas shells to chase away the protesters.

The internet services continued to remain suspended across Sopore.

The services were suspended following the encounter on Wednesday evening, locals said, adding that the services continued to remain closed since then.

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Guv likely to recommend Prez rule from Dec 20

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Srinagar, Dec 13: Jammu and Kashmir is likely to come under President’s rule after 28 years as Governor Satya Pal Malik is set to recommend Government of India’s rule in his report to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

JK has been under Governor’s rule after the BJP pulled out of the alliance with PDP in June. Malik’s tenure is the ninth Governor’s rule since 1977.

The Government officials, as per a report by Indian Express, will soon seek approval from the Union cabinet for President’s rule in the Valley and it has to be ratified by Parliament.

The ratification has to be done by both Houses of Parliament within two months of imposition of President’s rule. Once approved by both the Houses, the President’s rule is valid for six months. “As long as President’s rule is in effect, Parliament makes laws on the 61 subjects on the state list,” an official said. The money Bills of the state are also approved by Parliament during this time.

Governor Malik last month dissolved the Assembly, citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies”.

Senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari had said that the senior leaders of the National Conference, PDP and the Congress have agreed to make an alliance in order to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bukhari, according to reports, was emerging as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance, however he said that right now he doesn’t know anything beyond the fact that an alliance has been agreed upon to protect the special status of the state.

He also informed that an official announcement regarding the alliance will be made in one or two days.

Earlier, Senior Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had confirmed that talks between the three parties are already going on.

While speaking to Free Press Kashmir, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G.A. Mir had said that he had no information about the meeting, however, he is not against the idea, “given the way communal forces have/ are planning to execute venomous ideas in the state.”

“If, on a national level, like-minded people are putting forward their ideas, making it a role model and turning it into one single voice to fight against communal forces, won’t be wrong,” said Mir adding, “The naked-dance BJP has been performing and plans on doing here are evident by the way situation has turned tense here for last 4 years.”

The development happened a day after PDP heavy weight Muzaffar Hussain Baig said that he was ready to join a ‘third front’ if it emerges in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, the BJP has said that the three have come together on directions of Pakistan.

In a hurriedly called press conference in Jammu at the BJP headquarters, in reaction to the alliance, BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said, “These parties are coming together to form government on directions of Pakistan just to keep BJP away.”

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