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FairPoint: Is there something under wraps in Kashmir

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FairPoint: Is there something under wraps in Kashmir

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The recent terror attacks in Jammu have sparked a wave of anxiety and panic among people in the region. The fact that terrorists can carry out heinous attacks anywhere and anytime has exposed chinks that need to be sealed.

The attack on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in Reasi raises several questions — like how come the attackers knew the bus was carrying Hindu pilgrims or it would be travelling on that particular route at that time. Were they given the information? Who told them? The terrorists ambushed the bus on a stretch where traffic was less and as per those who survived, the attackers were there for almost 20 minutes.

Does this not indicate a kind of collusion with some local sympathisers? The questions may be part of the investigation being carried out, but they are reminiscent of the times when terrorism struck Kashmir in the early 1990s and most of the attacks were carried out after getting information from neighbours or colleagues and even local policemen. This was something which was even described in detail by Late Governor Jagmohan in his book, ‘Frozen Turbulence’.

The help at the local level could be out of fear or sympathy. With improved security situation and crackdown on separatist leaders, the atmosphere of fear is supposed to have been curbed. But, terror eruptions like the recent ones bring forth an ugly fact that rogue elements continue to exist and exert their presence from time to time.

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These elements try to rear their heads when they deem fit or act on orders from across the border. Pakistan has not shut its terror factory and continues to infiltrate terrorists to carry out attacks. It believes that it is its right to keep J&K disturbed through such acts of violence.

J&K Director General of Police R. R. Swain recently said that 70-80 foreign terrorists are active in the Union Territory. An equal number is reported to be trying to sneakily cross the LoC/border from various launch pads in Pakistan.

With the security apparatus tight and strong in Kashmir, the terrorists have been trying to shift their activities to the Jammu region, in the south of Pir Panjal range. The region with dense forests is a difficult terrain where terrorists get enough space to hide. The Pakistan-backed terrorists are also now trying to go to those areas which have been relatively peaceful, and the Reasi attack is an example.

This is the challenge for security forces. The fact that terrorists are able to strike and vanish is something which is deeply worrying. The question again arises — is it possible for the attackers to just vanish or are there elements helping them in the UT?

The terror attacks cannot happen in isolation. There is always a local connect, whether it is in the form of a hybrid terrorist, an overground or underground worker or just simply doing it for money or getting exploited on the basis of religious sentiments.

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Before the abrogation of Article 370, the separatists and the pro-Pakistani elements were successful in creating a network which was connected by Islamic sentiments. This link helped in organising stone-pelting sessions, targeted killings, attacks on minorities and security forces, etc.

After Article 370 ceased to exist, the valley has seen a drastic change. The pro-separatist network was demolished and a drastic reduction in violence, including stone-pelting, was noticed. The valley has been witnessing a massive and unprecedented flow of tourists.

Despite a majority wanting to live in peace, there is a hidden remnant of the motivated link that has been trying to gather itself by various means. These hidden elements show their presence through acts of terror, as was witnessed in three back-to-back attacks in Jammu, including the targeting of Hindu pilgrims in a bus in Reasi district.

The police have announced huge rewards for information about the attackers but days after the attack, no one has been arrested. The fact is that these hidden elements are able to get support — with moving around, hiding, food, weapons or pinpointed information about the subject of attack. This is something which should act as an alarm bell for the government.

The victory of Engineer Rashid, a leader with an inclination towards the separatist agenda, in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, is again a pointer to something brewing in the valley.

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Rashid has been in Tihar jail for the past five years in connection with a terror funding case. In 2015, when he was an MLA, he organised a party at his official residence where beef was cooked. He has also repeatedly raised his voice for the “right to self-determination” in the then J&K Assembly.

Recently, when he won the Lok Sabha elections, eyebrows were raised as to how he managed to secure the win despite being in jail. His campaign was led by his 26-year-old son Abrar Rashid.

Much on the lines of AAP head and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s campaign in the general elections, where he appealed to people to vote for him to keep him out of jail, Abrar Rashid adopted a similar strategy. His short speeches — “Your vote can get my father released…,” struck a chord and translated into victory.

If Engineer Rashid enters Parliament, will he raise his voice for self-determination as he used to do when he was an MLA.

The question is troubling, is there some under-wraps agenda that is now gradually unfolding? The separatists, by fielding proxies even if the Jamaat-e-Islami, JKLF and others are banned organisations, plan to enter the system. Is there an effort to implode the system by entering the system legitimately?

The questions may seem hypothetical currently, but Kashmir has a lot hidden.

(Deepika Bhan can be contacted at deepika.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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MP Sahney demands direct flights to Britain, Canada from Amritsar & Chandigarh

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MP Sahney demands direct flights to Britain, Canada from Amritsar & Chandigarh

MP Sahney demands direct flights to Britain, Canada from Amritsar & Chandigarh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Rajya Sabha MP Vikram Sahney on Monday raised the issue of direct flights to Britain and Canada from Amritsar and Chandigarh airports in the House.

He said lakhs of Punjabis travel to and from Britain and Canada to Punjab.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Muralidhar Mohol replied that granting points of call to the designated carriers of foreign countries depends on the benefit to the Indian aviation sector, the presence of the Indian diaspora in the country, and the future plans of Indian carriers.

The minister said various airlines of India are free to select destinations they wish to service and operate within the ambit of the bilateral Air Service Agreement (ASA).

Sahney said the government should impress upon carriers like Air India to start more direct flights from Punjab to Britain and Canada and also consider new points of call for any foreign carriers to use the Amritsar and Chandigarh airports as it satisfies the condition of a considerable presence of the Indian diaspora in these countries.

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–IANS

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Sharad Pawar discusses Maratha-OBC quota, woes of milk, sugar producers with Maha CM

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Sharad Pawar discusses Maratha-OBC quota, woes of milk, sugar producers with Maha CM

Sharad Pawar discusses Maratha-OBC quota, woes of milk, sugar producers with Maha CM

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) NCP(SP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday met Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and held detailed discussions on issues relating to irrigation, milk prices and the problems faced by sugar producers in Maharashtra.

In addition, the senior Pawar reportedly raised the ongoing protests by Maratha and OBC communities over the contentious reservation issue.

The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) confirmed the meeting between Sharad Pawar and CM Shinde.

“They discussed issues concerning irrigation, milk prices, and sugar factories,” the CMO said.

These are critical issues currently faced by the agriculture and dairy sectors in the state.

Sharad Pawar last week had extended his support to the agitating milk producing farmers who are demanding Rs 40 per litre for milk, implementation of Fair and Remunerative Price and Revenue Sharing policies for the dairy sector, curbing milk adulteration and reducing the prices of cattle feed.

The NCP(SP) supremo had assured the agitating farmers that he would meet CM Shinde and take up these issues for an early resolution to their woes.

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Sharad Pawar has also sought the Maharashtra government’s intervention to help the sugarcane growers who are facing financial problems as they cannot export surplus sugar.

Sharad Pawar pressed the Mahayuti government to take up the matter on a priority basis with the Centre for an early resolution.

Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar is believed to have sought information with regard to the discussion between CM Shinde and pro-Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil on the Maratha reservation issue.

Besides, Sharad Pawar also asked for the details pertaining to the talks held between a group of ministers and OBC leaders with regard to the quota issue.

The senior Pawar’s move to raise the reservation issue comes days after NCP minister and Samta Parishad chief, Chhagan Bhujbal sought his mediation to address the present stalemate over the reservation issue.

Sharad Pawar had assured Bhujbal that he would discuss the issue with CM Shinde.

CM Shinde has briefed him about the line of action on Jarange-Patil’s demand for the execution of draft “sage-soyare” notification that recognises Kunbis as blood relatives of the Maratha community members.

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The discussion on the Maratha quota issue coincided with the fresh indefinite fast launched by Jarange Patil from last week.

–IANS

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Lalu Prasad demands Nitish Kumar’s resignation after Centre rejects Bihar’s special status

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Lalu Prasad demands Nitish Kumar’s resignation after Centre rejects Bihar’s special status

Lalu Prasad demands Nitish Kumar’s resignation after Centre rejects Bihar’s special status

Patna, July 22 (IANS) After the Central government turned down the special status for Bihar, RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

“Centre has refused to give the special status to Bihar so Nitish Kumar should resign from his post. We will fight for special status at any cost,” the RJD Chief said.

He also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over not granting special status to Bihar.

“PM Modi and Nitish Kumar shamelessly gave Bihar a ‘Jhunjhuna’ (toy). If not the status of a special state, then give anything to Bihar in the name of a special package! JD-U bowed down to BJP,” he wrote on X.

The demand for special status for Bihar has been a recurring issue, with various leaders from the Janata Dal (United) advocating for it.

JD-U Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Jha had brought up the issue in an all-party meeting, stating that the Central government should either grant special state status or arrange for a special package for Bihar.

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Similarly, JD-U MP Rampreet Mandal raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, emphasising that special state status is essential for promoting economic development and industrialisation in backward states.

Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the Water Resource Minister of Bihar, said, “We have a longstanding demand of special status for Bihar but if any technicalities arise in it, Centre should consider at least a special package for a backward state like Bihar.”

–IANS

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Trinamool to move motions on NEET, 3 criminal laws during Assembly's Monsoon Session

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Trinamool to move motions on NEET, 3 criminal laws during Assembly's Monsoon Session

Trinamool to move motions on NEET, 3 criminal laws during Assembly's Monsoon Session

Kolkata, July 22 (IANS) The ruling Trinamool Congress will move two special motions on the floor of the West Bengal Assembly this week during the Monsoon Session.

The first motion will be for scrapping of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the second will be on the three new criminal laws introduced in India, confirmed the Assembly Speaker.

The decision to move these two special motions was taken at the Business Advisory Committee of the state Assembly on Monday, when the Monsoon Session resumed.

However, as per convention, on the first day the session was adjourned after obituary mention.

The Speaker said that the motion demanding scrapping of NEET and restoration of the previous system of individual state governments conducting such examinations, will be moved on the floor of the House on Tuesday and there will be debates on the matter on Wednesday.

Similarly, another motion on the three criminal laws in the country will be moved by the Treasury Bench on Friday and debates on the matter will be conducted on next Monday.

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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24 raising the same demand on scrapping of NEET examination.

She had also written to the Prime Minister objecting to the implementation of the three new criminal laws without proper groundwork and preparation.

–IANS

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Divested of key portfolio, BJP Minister in MP threatens to quit

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Divested of key portfolio, BJP Minister in MP threatens to quit

Divested of key portfolio, BJP Minister in MP threatens to quit

Bhopal, July 21(IANS) Upset after being divested of the key Forest and Environment portfolio, first-time Cabinet minister in Madhya Pradesh, Nagar Singh Chouhan, on Monday threatened to quit from the Council of Ministers in the next two days.

Chouhan, a four-time tribal MLA who is now left with the Scheduled Caste Welfare portfolio, said he would quit the ministerial post and serve the people of his community, adding that his wife Anita Nagar Singh Chouhan, who is a first-time Lok Sabha member, might also quit as an MP.

On Sunday, Nagar Singh Chouhan was divested of the Forest and Environment portfolio which was allotted to Ramnivas Rawat, a six-time Congress MLA who switched sides to the BJP on April 30.

“I have been associated with the BJP for over 25 years. Yet I wasn’t consulted before the decision to divest me of the Forest and Environment portfolio was taken. I have already discussed the issue with (state BJP chief) V.D. Sharma. I will announce my decision in the next two days,” Chouhan told mediapersons on Monday.

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The BJP leader also said what made him more upset was the fact that the ministry was allotted to someone who joined the party from the Congress only a few months back.

When asked if his ‘pressure tactic’ had anything to do with the possibility of him being dropped as a minister in a future Cabinet reshuffle, Chouhan said he never asked for any post in 25 years of his political career.

“I never asked for a ticket for my wife before the Lok Sabha polls. It was the party that chose my wife as its candidate, and we didn’t disappoint as she won by more than 2 lakh votes, the highest winning margin ever from the seat (Ratlam).

“Now if the party feels that two members from the same family cannot be bestowed with key responsibility, I’ll quit as a minister and remain just an MLA, while my wife will step down as an MP,” said Chouhan, considered a loyalist of former CM and current Union Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

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Notably, this is the first resentment shown by any BJP leader after Chief Minister Mohan Yadav assumed office in December last year.

–IANS

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