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Former bureaucrats, civil society members write to Rajnath 

‘Closing highway will weaken democracy, attract military rule’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 9: A group of India’s intellectuals including former government servants, academicians, journalists and civil society members have written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and expressed their collective concerns over the “worsening” situation in Kashmir.

The letter is signed by former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Ravi Vira, former Secretary, Ministry of Defense Amitabh Pande, former Home Secretary of India Gopal Pillai, former Secretary Hindal Tyabji, and academicians and authors including Anand Sahay, Prem Shankar Jha, Radha Kumar Happymon Jacob, Shiv Vishwanathan and Badri Raina.

In the letter, the signatories have specified that president’s rule coupled with crackdowns and arrests in Kashmir are “formidable disincentives” to the voting exercise.

 

“In these conditions, what kind of a turnout can we expect in the valley? Taken together, the policy of President’s rule, counter-insurgency, crackdowns and arrests, combined with threats to rollback Articles 370 and 35-A and alterations to the administrative structure of the state, provide formidable disincentives to vote,” the letter reads.

The signatories have mentioned that the closure of the highway for forces’ movement would weaken the “democratic credentials and attract the military rule.”

“It is, moreover, only the most recent of a series of actions that add to disaffection in the valley. Others include banning the JKLF and the Jamaat-e-Islami, imprisoning their leaders as well as those of the Hurriyat, and denying security to members of political parties,” it said.

The signatories slammed BJP by claiming that its rule in last four years has undone the hardwork of 15 years by previous regimes in Kashmir.

In the letter, the intellectuals suggested the Home Ministry for immediate rollback of its decisions, which they believe deteriorated situation in Kashmir.

“The first step would be to rescind orders for closure of the highway, followed by release of those arrested (unless there is substantive evidence of their being involved in recent terrorist attacks such as on the CRPF at Pulwama), restoration of security to political leaders and return to a policy of defense against attack rather than preemptive action. If your government could initiate a Ramzan ceasefire, then why not one for elections?”

 “No reasoned explanation has been offered. These elections offer an opportunity to craft a more conciliatory policy towards the people of the state, including dissidents who have engaged in peace initiatives, such as the Hurriyat M, who have once again held out an offer of talks,” it said.

In the letter, the intellectuals criticised the BJP’s manifesto, saying it is opposed to conciliation in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Nevertheless, whether your party wishes to avail of this opportunity or not, surely you would recognize that governance is larger than party interest and a change of course is required. Lest the situation in the state worsens to a point of no return. We urge you, even at this late stage, to take the steps mentioned above. Jammu and Kashmir will only then be able to have a free and fair election,” it said.

Former Kashmir interlocutor and one of the signatories, Radha Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor the policies of the current government for Kashmir compelled them to write to the Union Home Minster about the ground situation.

“It was a very hard task to find email of the Home Ministry as all their contacts mentioned in websites are incorrect. Actually we are a group of people who are aware of the situation in Kashmir and are upset about it,” she said.

“We have written on Kashmir so far and we thought to find something which will have more weightage,” she said.


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Guv reassigns depts to Advisors

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 17: Governor Satya Pal Malik Wednesday re-assigned the charge of departments to his Advisors.

As per the order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), Advisor Vijay Kumar has been assigned charge of the departments of Home, Forest, Ecology & Environment, Health & Medical Education, Youth Services & Sports, Hospitality & Protocol, Civil Aviation, Estates and Information.

Advisor Khurshid A Ganai has been assigned the charge of the departments of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, ARI & Trainings, Cooperative, Floriculture, Tourism, Election, Planning, Development & Monitoring, Labour & Employment and Higher Education.

 

Advisor, K Skandan has been assigned the charge of the departments of Information Technology, Industries and Commerce, Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Ladakh Affairs, Revenue, Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation & Reconstruction, Transport and Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs.

Advisor Kewal Kumar Sharma has been assigned the charge of the departments of Public Works (R&B), Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control, Power, Finance, Housing & Urban Development and Science and Technology.

Advisor Farooq Ahmad Khan has been assigned the charge of the departments of School Education, Technical Education, Hajj and Auqaf, Social Welfare, Tribal Affairs, Culture, Agriculture/ Horticulture and Rural Development & Panchayati Raj.

Papers related to General Administration Department shall be submitted by the Chief Secretary directly to Governor.

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PDP still believes it will bounce back

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 17: A high level meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) leadership from south Kashmir was held at the party head office here in which various crucial issues confronting the state at present were discussed in detail.

Chaired by Party Vice President Abdul Rahman Veeri, the meeting deliberated over various measures that the party has taken in the recent past to widen its reach and make masses aware about its agenda and mission.

Veeri in his address stressed upon the leadership to hold constant contact with the general public and highlight the issues they face on day to day basis and seek their resolution on priority from the concerned quarters.

 

“Veeri expressed full confidence that the PDP will bounce back in a revitalised form on the state’s political scene and that the party will continue to push for peace with dignity which is the focal point of its agenda,” the party statement read.

He, it added, said that the workers are committed to the agenda of the party and the vision provided by its founder Mufti Sayeed who founded the party in “trying circumstances”.

PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, while addressing the meeting, stated that the party “will continue to pursue it till durable peace is restored and that will never barter interests of the state against petty political gains.”

PDP leader, Sartaj Madni in his address stated that the need of the hour is that the party leadership, functionaries, activists and supporters must work in close coordination and make sustainable efforts in party’s overall growth and impressive performance in the coming time.

The participants of the meeting expressed full confidence in the leadership of the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, resolving in unison to support her each and every endeavour aimed at getting the people out of the cycle of uncertainty and lead the state towards a prosperous future.

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Will find, deport all infiltrators in India: HM

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jul 17:  The Centre will identify illegal immigrants staying in any part of the country and deport them as per international law, Home Minister Amit Shah said in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The minister was replying to a supplementary query by Samajwadi Party member Javed Ali Khan on whether the National Register of Citizens will be implemented in other states as well.

Currently, the NRC is being updated under the strict monitoring of the Supreme Court in Assam and July 31 has been set as a deadline for final publication of the registered data.

 

“It is a very good question. The NRC is part of the Assam Accord and was also in (BJP’s) election manifesto based on which the government has come to power. The government will identify illegal immigrants living on every inch of the country’s soil and will deport them as per the international law,” Shah said in the Upper House.

Noting that the Centre has received many representations for extending the NRC deadline in Assam, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said a petition signed by about 25 lakh applicants submitted to the Centre and the President demanded extension to correct anomalies.

Since many genuine names have been left out and many bogus names are registered, the minister said, “So the government has requested the (Supreme) Court to extend the time for this purpose”.

“There will be some delay but the NRC will be implemented properly without any faults,” he said, asserting that the government’s intention is to ensure no genuine citizen is left out of the NRC.

To a query on number of Rohingya Muslims in India, Rai said, “We don’t have an accurate data. They are spread across the country. Some of them have gone back to Bangladesh. We will get the data soon.” The government’s intention is to ensure no illegal immigrant is registered under the NRC. Foreigner tribunals have also been set up to curb illegal stay of foreigners in India, he added.

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