SRINAGAR: National Conference leader and MP Akbar Lone has “appreciated” the role of Pakistan in raking up the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India, even as he said that his party must contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone told IANS in an interview that contesting elections has been compulsion in the past though “Kashmiris don’t belong to India”.
“We will have to first understand what powers the new Assembly will have in the event of any elections taking place. As a man from National Conference, whatever the elections, we must contest elections,” he said.
Batting for a united stand by political parties against the abrogation of Article 370, Lone said that all parties must stand together for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“All parties like the Congress, National Conference, PDP and other small and big groups must join hands to carry out agitation against India for the return of the special status of the state,” Lone added.
Lone said the clampdown in Kashmir is stopping people from showing their resentment against the scrapping of the special status.
“It is military rule in Kashmir. Every nook and corner of the state is guarded by the Army, by paramilitary forces, people are not allowed to come out, if they would have been allowed to come out, they would have showed their resentment,” Lone said.
He said that he “appreciated” the role of Pakistan and other countries in raking the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India.
“It is a good thing that Pakistan or China or US any other country rakes up the Kashmir issue internationally and supports the cause, they have exposed India, otherwise India would have taken the move as a success without caring about who is who,” he said.
Lone demanded the release of former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and said the party leadership must be allowed to meet these senior leaders to decide the future course of action.
“We must be allowed to see our leaders and they must be released, we will sit down along with other parties to chalk out a joint course of action,” Lone said.
Declare birth anniversary of Hari Singh public holiday: Karan Singh to Guv
Senior Congress leader Karan Singh on Friday urged Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik to declare his father Hari Singh”s birth anniversary next week as a public holiday, asserting that it was due to the state”s erstwhile ruler that it became a part of India.
Singh, the former Sadar-e-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, said that for many years there had been a strong demand to declare the birthday of Hari Singh as a public holiday.
“In fact, both my sons had a resolution to this effect passed in the legislative council some years ago, but so far no action has been taken. The birth anniversary is on Monday, September 23,” he said in a statement.
“Let us recall that it was due to Maharaja Hari Singh ji that Jammu and Kashmir state became a part of India when he signed the instrument of accession on October 26, 1947. Apart from that he was a progressive and a far-sighted ruler who instituted many social and economic reforms for the welfare of the people,” he said.
Singh said as far back as 1929, his father had declared all temples in the state open to Dalits.
“I urge the governor to declare this day as a public holiday,” he said
Fresh restrictions in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers
Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, officials said.
Normal life continued to remain affected across the valley for the 47th consecutive day with markets closed and public transport off the roads, the officials said.
Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in few areas of the valley to maintain law and order, the officials said.
They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in downtown (interior city) and Anchar area of Soura police station in Srinagar.
The restrictions have also been imposed in Kupwara and Handwara police districts and the main towns of Ganderbal, Anantnag and Bijbehara, the officials added.
Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas in the rest of the valley, they said.
The officials said the curbs were a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of apprehensions that vested interests might exploit the large Friday prayer gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.
Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines – including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta or Dargah Sharief in Hazratbal – in the valley for the past over a month now.
Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley.
Internet services have remained suspended across all platforms, they said. While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir, they added.
The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second rung mainstream politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continued to be in detention or under house arrest.
While NC president Farooq Abdullah was first placed under house arrest, he was on Tuesday booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
His son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti were detained on the night of August 4 — hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.
Most of the mainstream leaders, including former ministers and legislators, were also either detained or kept under house arrest, the officials said.
Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award
New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.
“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.
“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.
Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.
A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.
Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.
The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.
An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.
National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.
The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.