Patna, Jun 10: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Monday refrained from making a direct comment on what his party would do if the BJP-led central government goes ahead with its poll promise of scrapping Article 370, which gives special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The Janata Dal (United) president reiterated his stand that the proposals to remove Article 370, impose Uniform Civil Code and construct Ram temple at Ayodhya either be settled through dialogue or court ruling.
“It has been our view that Article 370 should not be removed. Similarly, Uniform Civil Code should not be imposed on anyone and the issue of Ram temple at Ayodhya be either resolved through dialogue or court order,” said Kumar.
Kumar clarified that there was no “bitterness” in his party’s relation with the BJP over the JD(U) not joining the Union Cabinet with “symbolic representation”.
Kumar was replying to questions of mediapersons after his weekly public interaction programme “Lok Samvad” here.
National chief general secretary of JD(U) K C Tyagi had Sunday, after the party’s national executive meeting, said the party will oppose the Centre’s move to scrap Article 370 while being in the NDA, just as it had done when the party voted against the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
“We will continue to oppose it (abrogating Article 370) while being in NDA. It is your (media) wish that we should part ways,” Tyagi had said.
On Sunday, JD(U), an ally of the BJP in Bihar, had also announced that it would contest assembly elections in Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Haryana on its own, as part of its goal to achieve national party status by 2020.
Article 370 is expected to a major election issue in the Jammu and Kashmir state polls.
“There is no bitterness in the NDA with regard to the party’s decision not to join the Union Cabinet. We have very cordial relations,” Kumar said Monday, answering a query on the party’s decision not to be part of the Union Cabinet.
Kumar, who attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 30, said his party declined the offer of token representation in the cabinet by nominating one person from the party, as was made public earlier.
The Bihar chief minister favoured closure of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) and suggested the Union government, instead, introduce Central Sector Schemes in its place.
“Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) should be closed. And the Centre should introduce central sector schemes if it wants to run a particular scheme on all India basis. We have also said it before the Finance Commission. We are of the view that every state should have its own schemes (depending on need and requirement),” Kumar told reporters.
Kumar said he played an important role in reducing the number of CSSs when he was in the central government.
Kumar held important portfolios of Railway and Surface Transport in the NDA government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Kumar said he told the NDA government that special initiatives need to be taken up to pull out poor states out of backwardness.
Based on the recommendations of the sub-group of chief ministers on rationalisation of CSSs, the number of CSSs had been reduced to 28 from 66, the government had informed the Parliament on April 10, 2017.
Kumar expressed shock after being told a dead man’s body was not be removed for hours in Vaishali district on Sunday as Mahnar and Sahdei Bujurg police stations fought over jurisdiction.
The body was lifted after six to seven hours after the area was measured. The CM immediately asked Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey to take action against the erring officials.
“Whoever gets the information will do the job first without going into the details of jurisdiction and act accordingly. Later, the case will be transferred to the concerned police station. It is a very grave incident which has been brought to notice,” the CM said.
When asked about “Nalanda model of development”, the Chief Minister, who hails from Nalanda, said, “There is no such model of development as I have taken care of each and every district “I have liking and feeling for all districts be it Purnea, Champaran, Gaya and Bodhgaya. Every important programme starts from West Champaran. So please don’t say so. I was not born in Nalanda and my birth place is Bakhtiarpur (in Patna district),” he said.
Defunct street lights? Don’t expect SMC to fix them
Srinagar, Jun 17: Srinagar plunges into darkness soon after sunset as most of the street lights in the capital city are defunct.
This being so since Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claims it is incapable to deal with the issue.
In absence of this basic facility, the city residents face a lot of inconvenience moving out of their homes to the markets or masjids during the evening and early morning hours.
Cases of burglary and dog-bites have been reported from many secluded areas where residents complain of either having defunct or no street lights.
People living in many of these poorly-lit areas feel scared to venture out of their homes in late hours.
“I prefer not to leave my home after Isha namaz. Dogs chase passersby since there is no street light in this colony,” said Bashir Ahmed, 60, a resident of Illahibagh.
SMC claims it has installed more than 40,000 street lights across the city. However, majority of them remain dysfunctional due to lack of an established electric division and less technical manpower in the corporation.
Executive Engineer SMC, Qazi Imtiyaz who looks after the Mechanical division, said: “We have nothing. Zero manpower to look after the technical faults of street lights. There is no electric division in our corporation.”
SMC Commissioner, Khursheed Ahmad Sanai said: “SMC lacks an established electric division as well as skilled staff to mend defunct street lights in Srinagar. But we are constantly making up to illuminate more areas through whatever little staff is available to us.”
RKFC signs top English striker
More signings to follow; Club on track to become India’s football powerhouse
Srinagar, Jun 17: J&K’s premier football club, Real Kashmir FC, has signed an experienced striker from England to play for the team in the upcoming season.
Announcing on RKFC’s official Twitter handle, the club management wrote: “RKFC is delighted to announce the signing of Kallum Higginbotham from Dunfermline Athletic, Scotland. Kallum is an experienced striker who has played at the highest level in the UK. Kallum has played for top teams such as Huddersfield Town, Kilmarnock, and Motherwell.”
Former Kilmarnock frontman, Kallum, who’s originally from Salford, England, will join the club in the third week of July, club sources told The Kashmir Monitor.
With Rangers legend David Robertson training the team, Kallum will be the second European player to play for RKFC after the coach’s son Mason.
The club finished third in the I-League last season in their first campaign in the top flight.
Terming it as an important signing, club’s co-owner, Sandeep Chattoo said: “Today’s signing of Kallum shows our intent that we mean business. We will leave no stone unturned to make RKFC a powerhouse of football not just in India but Asia. In coming days we will unveil more top signings. As a co-owner, I want to tell the fans that we will do whatever we can to play top class breathtaking football next season. RKFC is not just a football team. It’s the heartbeat of the state. For me personally it’s a project. We have just completed phase one. Lot more to follow.”
Head Coach David Robertson had a similar viewpoint on Kallum’s inclusion in the club: “Signing player of Kallum’s experience and quality is a huge statement and shows continued ambition of Real Kashmir. He will give us an extra edge upfront and can also play in various roles within the team. Our team is shaping up nicely and we are all eager and excited for the start of the new campaign.”
President J&K Football Association, Zameer Thakur congratulated the team on the signing.
“We welcome this signing and hope that RKFC will not just maintain but improve its last season’s performance in the upcoming one,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Overall nuclear arms decline but India, Pak, China expanding arsenal
Stockholm, Jun 17: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernising their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernising these arms ¬– and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it”.
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend towards an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalised,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.