Pak Vows Support To Kashmir On Art 370

Rattled by India’s landmark decisions scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and converting the state into a Union Territory, Pakistan on Monday said it will exercise “all possible options” to counter the steps.

This statement from Islamabad comes hours after India scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and barred people from the rest of the country from buying property there. The BJP-led Centre also converted Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory with legislature, while hiving off Ladakh as a separate Union Territory without legislature.

It also added that Pakistan is committed to the “Kashmir cause and its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people”.

“Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment to the Kashmir cause and its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir for the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination,” the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said.

Ironically, the statement comes even as Pakistan is struggling with a debt-ridden economy and has “30,000 to 40,000” militants on its soil, as accepted by their Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent US visit. Not only this, he even admitted that his country has 40 different militant groups operating within its borders.

Islamabad has for long aided anti-India activities on its soil, many times aimed at perpetrating violence in Kashmir. An example of their nefarious designs came to the fore when Indian Army on Saturday foiled an infiltration attempt by Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Keran Sector while eliminating five-seven Pakistani Army regulars and terrorists.

Earlier this month, the Indian Army had said that Pakistani terrorists were plotting to carry out an attack on the ongoing Amarnath Yatra and that the security forces had recovered a Pakistan Ordnance Factory anti-personnel mine from a terror cache.

Following this, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had advised all Amarnath Yatris and tourists to curtail their stay in the Valley. Several countries like Germany and the UK also advised its citizens against travelling to the state. (ANI)

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J&K Parties Unite As Fear Grips Valley

Amid the prevailing security situation and rising fears in the Valley, leaders of all major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir met here on Sunday and urged India and Pakistan not to take any step which may disturb the peace and escalate tension between the two countries.

“I appeal to India and Pakistan not to take any step that may escalate tension between the two countries because it will harm both the nations,” parties said in a declaration.

The leaders unanimously resolved to “protect and defend identity, autonomy and special status to Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever”.

“Modification, abrogation of Article 35A, Article 370, constitutional delimitation and trifurcation of the state would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, reading the declaration, said.

The leaders appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to safeguard the “legitimate interest” of the people of the state.

“The parties participating in the meeting resolved to seek audience with the President and PM and also other leaders of the political parties to apprise them of the current situation and make an appeal to them to safeguard the legitimate interest of the people of the state with regard to constitutional guarantees given by the Constitution of our country,” former Chief Minister Abdullah said.

The NC leader also warned the government of the “unwholesome consequences” that are “bound to follow any violation of the guarantees” given by the Constitution.

Leaders from the NC, Congress, PDP, Awami National Conference, Jammu and Kashmir People’s conference, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement and Communist Party of India (Marxist) attended the meeting and resolved to “remain together and stand united in their struggle for the identity, autonomy and special status of the state”.

Kashmir has been on the edge in the wake of a massive security build-up and state government’s advisory to Amarnath pilgrims and tourists urging them to curtail their visit.

The government said the step to issue an advisory to tourists was taken after it received intelligence about a possible terrorist attack on Amarnath pilgrimage.

Governor Satyapal Malik has sought to dispel speculation and asserted that the government was not planning to take any “drastic” step pertaining to the state.

(ANI)

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Shah Meets Home Secy, NSA On Kashmir

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday chaired a high-level meeting with Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in Parliament Complex in New Delhi.

The meeting came in the backdrop of recent developments in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday issued an advisory to Amarnath Yatris and tourists asking them to curtail their stay in the Valley, citing security concerns after the Indian Army said that Pakistani terrorists are planning to disrupt the pilgrimage.

During a search operation on Amarnath Yatra route, one M24 rifle and an Anti-Personnel Land mine with markings of POF( Pakistan Ordnance Factory) were recovered along the Northern route.

The M24 rifle is a sniper weapon in service being used by the US Army. There is a possibility that this weapon might have been brought in from Afghanistan where it might have been looted by the Taliban.

Further, Indian Army on Saturday said to have foiled an infiltration attempt by Pakistani BAT in Jammu and Kashmir’s Keran Sector and eliminating five to seven Pakistani Army regulars and terrorists.

Last week, the Union Home Ministry had ordered the deployment of an additional 100 companies of central paramilitary forces in the state. One company comprises around 100 personnel. (ANI)

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CBI Grills Unnao Rape Accused

A team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday interrogated Unnao rape case accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar in Sitapur Jail for the second consecutive day. The interrogation lasted for three hours.

The investigation agency had constituted an additional special team of 20 investigating officers to assist the probe into Unnao rape survivor’s road accident on Friday.

On July 28, a truck rammed the vehicle in which the victim was travelling. While her two aunts died immediately, she and her counsel suffered serious injuries and are undergoing treatment at the King’s George Medical University in Lucknow.

The Supreme Court had, on August 1, asked the CBI to investigate within seven days the mysterious case of the accident and also ordered the transfer of all cases related to Unnao rape incident from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi.

The Uttar Pradesh Police filed a case of murder against expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and nine others in connection with the accident. Probe in the case was transferred to the CBI on July 30.

Sengar, a legislator from Bangermau in Unnao district, had allegedly raped the girl at his residence in Unnao on June 4, 2017, where she had gone seeking a job. He is currently lodged in Sitapur district jail. (ANI)

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Is Modi Govt Dishing Out Legislative Bills Like Pizzas?

While Opposition members have often used standing committees to prolong decision-making by a ruling dispensation, Modi Government’s bulldozing important Bills without scrutiny does not bode well for democracy

When India replicated the Westminster model and introduced the system of Parliamentary standing committees in the early nineties, the basic purpose was to ensure an in-depth scrutiny of proposed laws and budgetary proposals as it was felt that these were often not discussed at length in Parliament due to paucity of time.

A conscious decision was taken to keep the press and public out of these committee meetings so that members were not obliged to take a partisan stand which is the case when legislation is debated on the floor of the House. A free and frank discussion, it was felt, allowed MPs to offer constructive suggestions which would help strengthen and improve a particular legislation.

This system has worked so far. But the incumbent Modi government has been particularly reluctant to refer legislative Bills for scrutiny to Parliamentary committees. The number of Bills which were sent to committees for detailed deliberations dropped to 26% during Modi’s first term. In contrast, the figures for the earlier two Lok Sabhas was a healthy 60 and 71%. The Modi government is yet to open its account in the ongoing Parliament session.

A defanged and divided opposition has looked on helplessly as the Modi government ensured the passage of 20-odd Bills in the first session of the new Lok Sabha without sending even a single one to a Parliamentary committee. These include the amendments to the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, the legislation criminalising triple talaq and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill to name a few.

The opposition has registered its protest but these have been ignored by an emboldened Modi government which has used its numerical strength in the Lok Sabha to push ahead with its legislative business.

Realizing that the opposition does not have the numbers or the will to challenge it, the Modi government unilaterally extended the Parliament session dusted up all its old Bills and rushed ahead with their passage. Brushing aside the opposition’s objections, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders maintained that the Bills which had been tabled for passage were not new but those which had been pending since the last Lok Sabha.

Unlike his predecessors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is particularly averse to referring important Bills to Parliamentary committees. The showman that he is, the Prime Minister wants to set a record for the most productive Parliament session. Second, he wants to take advantage of the disarray in the opposition ranks to literally bulldoze legislation through Parliament. More importantly, Modi does not want any hurdles which can delay the passage of Bills.

Past experience shows that scrutiny by a Parliamentary committee is a time-consuming process. This can impact decision-making as opposition leaders, who head these committees, use it as a political tool by prolonging the deliberations. This is exactly what happened when the Manmohan Singh government was in power. Two of its flagship legislations- the Right to Food Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill – were deliberately delayed by the Parliamentary committees then headed by BJP leaders. Since the reports of the committees were submitted virtually towards the end of the government’s tenure, the Centre did not have sufficient time to implement the legislation and take electoral advantage of its “pro-poor” programmes.

Clearly, Modi wants to avoid a similar situation. Not only is he intent on making a big splash by ensuring the smooth functioning of Parliament, the Prime Minister does not want any roadblocks in the implementation of his government’s agenda which can damage his personal image as a decisive leader. More importantly, Modi wants to use the session to remind the opposition about its diminished strength and the government’s massive majority in the Lok Sabha. Unlike the past, no effort is now made to reach out across the political aisle and establish a working relationship with the opposition. The divide is all too clear as the BJP believes dialogue with its opponents is unnecessary.

On its part, an enfeebled has objected to the government’s attitude. It has accused Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah of showing scant regard for Parliament and treating it like the Gujarat assembly where the Modi-Shah duo had acquired the reputation of pushing through the government’s legislative business without adequate debate. But to little avail.

Besides the fact that the opposition is in a hopeless minority in the Lok Sabha, it is also a divided house, having also lost the edge it enjoyed in the Rajya Sabha in the Modi government’s first term when it had the numerical strength to challenge the treasury. The ruling alliance has since bridged the gap and is now close to a majority in the Upper House following a series of defections from the opposition ranks. Former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar, Congress leader Sanjay Sinh and four members of the Telugu Desam Party have switched loyalties to the BJP, swelling its tally.

At the same time, the BJP has succeeded in driving a wedge in the opposition thanks to some deft floor management. This was evident during the voting on the triple talaq Bill when the BJP managed to get the support of the Biju Janata Dal while made sure the Bahujan Samaj Party, the People’s Democratic Party, YSR Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Janata Dal (U) were not present during the vote.  

From all accounts, the pattern set in the first session of the BJP government’s second term will become the norm. It is clear that the future of Parliamentary democracy is in peril as Modi has made it known that he does not like being questioned or opposed.

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Indian Missile Programme

Rajnath Singh Stresses On Force Modernisation

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hands over a Medium Range Surface to Air-Missile to Indian Air Force Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria during the Golden Jubilee year of Bharat Dynamics in Hyderabad, where he emphasised on modernisation of Indian armed forces. ]]>