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Glee and glum surround pol parties in Srinagar

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, May 23: The cheers of‘Farooq sahib Zindabad, Nara-e-takbeer Allahu Akbar’ Thursday reverberated the National Conference’s party headquarters here as Farooq Abdullah made way into the office.

He was showered with candies as workers struggled to shake hands with him, all trying their best to congratulate the 83-year-old patron for winning the Srinagar Parliamentary Elections.

The festivity was expected as Farooq recorded his fourth win in the Lok Sabha elections in his 42-year-long political career that began in 1980.

 

Thursday’s was a massive win for Farooq, who defeated PDP’s Aga Syed Mohsin by a huge margin of almost 70,000 votes.

While the male workers encircled Farooq and other party-leaders accompanying him, the female began singing Kashmiri songs praising the leader and announcing his success.

Farooq was accompanied by party vice-president Omar Abdullah, and senior leaders including Ali Sagar, Nasir Aslam Wani and Abdul Rahim Rather as they all made their way to begin the press conference announcing their win and the way forward.

Seeing their party winning all the three Lok Sabha seats from Kashmir, the workers had decorated the office and the alley leading to it with garlands and buntings carrying the party symbol.

A similar scene was witnessed at the BJP office here, whose leaders and workers went a bit too far in celebrating the party’s success across India.

While BJP had not made any mark in the Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir, its workers were ecstatic outside the party office in Jawahar Nagar here, jumping in joy, burning firecrackers (which as a matter of fact are banned in Srinagar) and offering sweets to each other.

Their ruckus bothered the passersby, who were annoyed of them blocking the road.

At PDP’s office, on the other hand, gloom permeated the air.

A handful of workers surrounded PDP leaders Khurshid Alam, Noor Mohammad and Muntazir Mohuiddin as they all were glued to the television set seeing their party’s downfall.

“It is a done deal. Farooq has won it in Srinagar and Anantnag too is out of our hands now,” one of the workers was seen telling others.

As the clock ticked and the PDP losses, especially in the Anantnag parliamentary seat became clear, the workers stood up in silence and left the place one by one.

The J&K Congress had kept their office in Srinagar closed. Its president GA Mir, who was all confident of a win in Anantnag, lost to NC’s Hasnain Masoodi with a margin of around 9800 votes.


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India rejects US report criticising it on religious freedom

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New Delhi, Jun 23: India Sunday rejected a US religious freedom report saying religious intolerance in India was growing under its right-wing government, setting off a new spat before a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An annual report on international religious freedom released by Pompeo on Friday said Hindu groups had used “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insisted that no foreign country had the right to criticise its record.

 

Pompeo is set to arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday for a trip intended to strengthen ties, but already complicated by spats over trade tariffs, data protection rules, US visas for Indians and buying arms from Russia.

The US religious freedom report said groups claiming to protect cows – considered sacred by Hindus –have attacked Muslims and Dalits. Christians have also been targeted for proselytising since Modi came to power in 2014.

“Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi administration has not addressed the problem,” the report said.

The report consists of chapters by country, grouped into tiers, in which India is categorised in tier 2. It highlights a 12 percent decline in communal violence compared with the previous year.

The controversial revision of the National Register of Citizenship in northeastern state Assam, which could land millions of minorities stateless, also got noticed in the report.

The foreign ministry however rejected the report, saying there was no right “for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

Reacting to the report, the external affairs ministry said a foreign entity had “no locus standi” to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar underlined that “India is a vibrant democracy where the fundamental rights of all its citizens, including minorities, are protected under the Constitution.”

“We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” he said.

“The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities,” the MEA spokesperson asserted.

“It is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights.”

The United States has sought to boost ties with India as a counterweight to China, and both US President Donald Trump and Modi have highlighted their good relationship.

However, India last week imposed higher import tariffs on 28 US items in retaliation to Washington’s recent withdrawal of trade privileges for New Delhi.

Pompeo wants to use his New Delhi trip to lay the ground for a Trump-Modi meeting at the G20 Summit in Osaka this month. It will be their first since Modi’s new landslide election win last month. Pompeo is also to give a speech on the future of the relationship between the two countries. 

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Civilian harassment on highway should stop: Farooq

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Srinagar, Jun 23: Member parliament from Srinagar parliamentary seat and National Conference’s (NC’s) president, Farooq Abdullah Sunday said that security forces are “harassing” people on the national highway.

“When I was coming, I saw security forces were stopping people at several places on the highway. It should not happen, nowhere in the country, people are stopped at so many places, they travel freely on it moreover with peace,” Farooq said at Pahalgam.

Asking for end to the practice, he urged the authorities to ensure hassle free movement of the people on the highway without any delay.

 

“They (forces) should let people travel in peace on the highway and stop harassing people without any reason,” he added.

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Local pandit beaten by forces in Qazigund

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Srinagar, Jun 23: A local resident of Levdoora area of Qazigund in south Kashmir, Krishan Raina, a Pandit, was beaten up by CRPF personnel on Sunday and was rescued by the local people in the vicinity.

According to the reports, Raina, who has been living in the locality since childhood was rounded up by a patrolling party of the CRPF in the Levdoora area without any provocation.

“Forces initially questioned me for living in Kashmir despite being a Hindu. After which they started erecting bamboo sticks on me,” Raina is heard saying in the video.

 

Raina, son of Gopi Nath Raina, sustained multiple injuries during the assault by CRPF men, the front window of his car has also been smashed as well speaking about the incident, he said that he was on way to Qazigund market to get medicines for his ill wife, when the CRPF men intercepted him and started beating him resulting in multiple injuries.

“Local Muslims gathered around the area to rescue me. A man with begging hands pleaded them not to thrash me, however, they assaulted him too,” said Raina. The incident sparked anger in the locality and dozens of other Muslims rushed to help the Pandit man.

“I am thankful to the Muslim community who saved me from the hands of CRPF men, otherwise who knows,” Raina said. He also said that the government forces are defaming the local Muslim population, who otherwise are helpful and rescued him from the wrath of forces. The locals later took Krishan to the nearby hospital where he is being treated

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