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Hope Modi thinks positive for Kashmir: Omar

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, May 23: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah Thursday congratulated Narendra Modi for being reelected as Prime Minister of the country and hoped that Modi will soften his stand on Kashmir and start dialogue with Pakistan.

Omar appealed Modi to change his style of work in the new government and take all the people of the country along.

“Country has reelected Narendra Modi again as Prime Minister despite opposition parties having tried hard during elections to defeat BJP and NDA. We also tried hard in Kashmir and won three seats. We would have won the Ladakh seat also but Congress conspired and helped BJP win the seat,” Omar said in a presser after NC’s grand show in Kashmir.

 

Omar said that Kashmiri people have suffered a lot during the five year rule of BJP, but hoped that Modi will soften his stand and start taking measures which will help give the people of Kashmir relief.

“Jammu and Kashmir people have hopes that Modi will think positive for Kashmir and start dialogue with Pakistan and take internal measures which will give relief to people here,” he said.

“Strict policy was used against Kashmiris in the last five years. We hope the new government will ease out the strict policy. We hope the border trade is resumed,” he said.

Omar blamed the Congress for hatching a conspiracy and fielding two candidates (one of them proxy) in the Ladakh constituency which led to the vote division.

 “Had Congress not conspired, the BJP would have lost Ladakh seat. Congress by fielding two candidates betrayed the people of Kargil. And people should seek answers from the party,” he said.

Claiming that nothing is going to change under BJP’s rule in next five years, Omar said the people of J&K want that the Centre should initiate a dialogue with Pakistan.

“We saw the beginning yesterday as foreign ministers of both the countries stood with each other and talked. If steps like resuming border trade are taken, people will have a sigh of relief. I appeal BJP to lessen the hardships of people of Kashmir in its their five year long tenure,” he said.

Dismayed by the performance of the opposition in the elections, Omar said questioning Balakot air strikes and the Congress’ “chowkhidar chor hi” slogan might have cost them the polls.

“Post-Balakot opposition lost most of its steam. There are many issues we can discuss on. Whether ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ was the right slogan, whether it was right to focus on Rafale. Whether or not we presented rural distress, unemployment, economic slowdown properly. Should we have questioned Pulwama instead of Balakot. They say ‘Once the horse has bolted what’s the point of closing the stable door?’ If the horse comes in hand after 5 years, fine, else it will go ahead,” he said.

When asked whether BJP’s stand on special status of J&K helped them to get majority, Omar said, “We saw that their statements on Article 370 equally helped them. This danger should not be taken easy by us and we will have to fight with our full power to save the state’s special status,” he said.  The NC vice president said the party chose its candidates who can speak over issues confronting Kashmiris. “Akbar sahab sometimes utters something wrong but he is known for strongly taking up the issues of the people. We need such people in parliament. Masoodi sahab also has a good knowledge of Law and the judgment he passed on Article 35-A and Article 370 is still being quoted by people,” he said


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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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