Briefing (October 27-November 02, 2019)

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MADHAV’S PAPER TIGERS

Ram-Madhav---BJP Briefing

SRINAGAR: With political class in jail, markets shut and freedom of speech suspended, ruling BJP flew Ram Madhav, its Kashmir hand, to Srinagar to deliver a speech to a good gathering at Tagore Hall. He accused 40-odd pro-India leader, detained since August 5, of sending “secret messages” to the youth that “that gun was the only way out in Kashmir now”. Insisting that Jammu and Kashmir was on the “path of peace and development”, Madhav said people linking peoples’ sentiments with Article 370 and becoming stumbling blocks will be dealt with severely. “If keeping 200-300 leaders behind the bars will maintain peace in J&K, let them be there for some time,” Madhav said. He said the politics will restart and suggested the political class to start fighting for the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

“There are many jails in India for those coming in the way of peace and development. If they want to do routine politics, let them do it. If you have to restore statehood, do politics. We, too, want the restoration of statehood. Let us come forward in making naya(new) Kashmir that will be about peace and development,” Madhav said. In Delhi, he said, we say if 200 to 300 people are in detention and the region is at peace, maybe it is beneficial. Leaders of two parties (NC and PDP) are in detention and the region is peaceful. Who was inciting violence, he asked. “The politics practised in the last 70 years has come to an end. New administration will run on sab kasaath, sab kavikas,” Madhav said. Allying fears over loss of jobs and land, Madhav talked about “utmost caution” in protecting culture, heritage, jobs and education. “When we, in BJP, used to say that Kashmir is ours, it did not mean that the land of Kashmir is ours but that every Kashmiri is ours. The whole India is ready to assure you of that.”

Terming the detained political class as “paper tigers”, Madhav said: “I know how much courage they have. One phone call makes them shiver.” He asserted his party wanted “the emergence of new leadership”. Unlike past when everything used to be done for a few families or a few leaders in Kashmir, Madhav said “now whatever is happening is happening for lakhs of families of this state.” He said BJP will disallow politicians from using commoners as cannon fodder of their politics.

Madhav whose arrival to the venue was delayed by a massive traffic jam around Batamaloo said the people are busy in their routines. The event was the first political activity after August 5. He said his party does not want to get political mileage out of the August 5 decision-making unlike all those who arrived at the Srinagar airport only for being stopped.

The party is wooing the political activists to join them. A report from Jammu said PDP’s state general secretary Faqir Chand Bhagat, former IAS officer GR Bhagat and former KAS officer KuldeepKhajuria joined the party. BJP’s AvinashRaiKhanna, who presided over the crossover function, told them: “In the upcoming Block Development Council (BDC) elections, the BJP has already registered victories on 15 seats in Kashmir alone and we are going to witness heavy polling in favour of BJP on 24 October.”

Khanna did not stop at that. He said the people in Kashmir are not unhappy over the continued detention of the political class. “They looted Kashmir for the past 70 years. Had they been real leaders of Kashmiris, people would have reacted and protested but there was not even a single word of sympathy for them,” Khanna said. “Only 10 members of a family came out the other day to lodge a protest.”

Angry NC retaliated saying they need no BJP certificate and time will prove the party’s relevance at the appropriate time.

Correction: The 15 carom board manufacturers in Jalandhar who were supplying 200 pieces to Kashmir a month are now supplying 700 boards a day. The demand has forced the manufacturers to expand their capacity.

POONCH

Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh was among nine officers injured on October 24, when his Advanced Light Helicopter crash-landed near the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch. Mohammad Afzal, a civilian who was nearby was also injured. The commander was visiting army units in the belt when the ALH developed a technical snag and crash-landed. The injured were evacuated to the Command Hospital, Udhampur. The first to launch the rescue was not army but the local villagers. The chopper had taken off from Mandi, and when gaining height, its rotor blades got entangled with wires from a power transmission tower. Jammu based Excelsior identified the injured as Col Sameer Dogra, Col Pushkar Sharma, CaptRajatBeri, Pilot NR Narayan, Commander Thakur, NaikNitin, NaikPawitter and Naik Ramesh Kanwar. It said the snag was detected and the chopper started coming down when it entangled in wires. A court of inquiry has been ordered.

385 Ladakhi-origin cops have been shifted to the UT of Ladakh on permanent basis

DELHI

Syed-Abdul-Rehman-[SAR]-Geelani Briefing

Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, the Zakir Hussain College Arabic teacher, who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, is no more. He was 50. He died of cardiac arrest in Delhi. Family sources said he had gone to the gym when he suffered the heart attack. Geelani is survived by his wife, his son Atif and daughter Nusrat. Arrested in the parliament attack case, Geelani was awarded death sentence by Delhi court in 2002. In October 2003, Delhi High Court acquitted him of all charges for “need of evidence” and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2005. Months before his acquittal in February 2005, Geelani was seriously injured when he was shot at five times outside his lawyer Nandita Haksar’s home in Vasant Kunj. He will be flown home for funerals.

DELHI

Girish-Chandra-Murmu GovernorThe government appointed Girish Chander Murmu, a 1985 batch IAS officer from Gujarat cadre as the first Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir that is going to be Union Territory from November 1. Currently working as the expenditure secretary in the union finance ministry, Murmu is a management graduate and post graduate in political science. Considered to be a trouble shooter, he has been the principal secretary of Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a position he held for nine years. People who know him said he was the main architect of Rs 80,000 Cr package that Modi announced during the doomed BJPDP rule. Ladakh’s first Lt Gov is retired IAS officer Radha Krishna Mathur who retired as Chief Information Commissioner in 2018. A former Defence Secretary, the 1977 batch IAS officer was Chief Secretary of Tripura, his home cadre.

WEDDINGS AND BLAZING GUNS

Mohammad Sidiq Joo - Karnah

KARNAH: The killing of Gundishot resident Mohammad Sidiq Joo, 70, had an instant outcome: Saiqa, his eldest daughter, had her marriage cancelled. After all, mourning’s lack room for any celebration, especially when her uncle, Maqbool is battling for his life in a Srinagar hospital. On October 20 night, as the rival armies pounded each other’s positions, the two brothers were injured when their home was hit by Pakistani shells.

Shells revisited the belt again on October 24, when Hamida Fatima, a woman was killed and eight others were injured. This time shells landed in Teetwal’s Pingla Haridal village in the afternoon. Most of the injured were females.

Fear gripped the entire border belt and people spent a long night in dungeons after Pakistani shelling led to the killing of the civilian and two soldiers. Of the three civilians injured in shelling, two were managed locally. Tensions were also reported in a vast belt of Hira Nagar where small-arms shelling by Pakistan led to a civilian’s injury. It interrupted harvesting as non local labour refused to work in the fields despite enhanced wages.

This latest artillery duel led to nine killings on both sides of the divide. Both sides accused each other of violating the 2003 ceasefire. Pakistani army said Indian shells landed in Jura, Shahkot and Nousehri sectors and killed five civilians and one soldier as several others survived wounded.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said at least 6 to 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed and three terror camps were destroyed in retaliatory action by the Indian Army in Keran and Keran sectors. “Three terror camps (Athmuqam, Kundal Shahi and Jura) were destroyed and on the fourth one also, we have caused severe damage,” the General was quoted saying.  “These are the camps we have targeted. And people who were supporting them, also the Pakistani posts, bore the brunt of our action.”

Pakistan insisted the civilians were targeted. Its Foreign Office summoned the Indian Acting High Commissioner in Pakistan, Gauruv Ahluwalia, to make a formal protest. They also briefed the P5 envoys. Pakistan actually flew some Western diplomats to the spots where the Indian shells damaged civilian properties. In retaliation, Pakistan claimed they destroyed two Indian army bunkers. A JCO was killed in Nowshehra sector in Pakistani sniper fire.

In Delhi, former Army Chief, now a minister, said: “Kayibaar, poonch seedhi karne mein samay lagta hai [Sometimes, it takes time to straighten out the tail].” A 27-year-old woman was killed in Poonch early last week.

The mourning, however, was not restricted to Kashmir alone. In ateh remote Dighali village of Gawhati, a family was mourning the death of Padam Bahadur Shrestha, who was killed in Karnah. He was the sole bread-winner of a six-member family comprising his parents, wife and three children. He was home in July, two months later, he was consigned to flames.

After, the guns thawed, Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik said if Pakistan did not “behave”, India will cross the Line of Control (LoC). “This has become their routine. Somewhere it is to be stopped,” Malik said. “We will completely destroy the terrorist camps and if they don’t desist, we will go inside.”

CHENNAI

The Madras High Court has reserved its orders on the question of maintainability of a public interest litigation petition filed by Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi(DMSK), challenging the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019 that bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The verdict was deferred by a division bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee following elaborate arguments by the petitioners that the new law hits at the federal structure of the constitution. The bench had cited the lack of territorial jurisdiction and cause of action but the lawyer, K Sakthivel mentioned a Supreme Court decision asserted that when federalism is under threat by activities of the Centre which could end up converting the entire nation into a Union Territory, a citizen can approach any court of law in exercise of his duty to uphold the values of the Constitution. “What had happened to Jammu and Kashmir now might happen to Tamil Nadu too,” The Hindu quoted the lawyer arguing. Though the bench termed the lawyers apprehensions as “surmises and conjectures” and “a fear psychosis”, it eventually observed that the petitions maintainability will be decided.

Indigenous manufacturer, SMPP Pvt Ltd has developed and supplied 40,000 bullet-proof jackets to the army.

LONDON

Parveena Ahanger has featured on the BBC’s list of top 100 inspiring women. The Kashmiri woman, whose son disappeared in custody of the army in 1990, has put a relentless fight against the trend of disappearances and was eventually supported by a UN body to continue her activism. She heads the Association of Parents of Disappeared Parents (APDP) since 1994. Parveena has won several accolades for her work. She was honoured with Norway’s Rafto Prize 2017 for her human rights work.

RESTRICTIONS MOVE TO LONDON!

British-Pakistani UzmaRasool and was supported by Labour MP Naz Shah. In follow up, almost 100 British Indian community organisations

LONDON: Since September 25 when the Labour Party in Britain passed a resolution in its annual conference critical of Delhi over Kashmir in its annual conference, the MEA has been consistently working to prevent Kashmiri Britons to influence the UK’s public opinion. The motion was initiated by British-Pakistani Uzma Rasool and was supported by Labour MP Naz Shah. In follow up, almost 100 British Indian community organisations launched a campaign to counter the “ill-conceived and partisan” resolution, and pressurising the Labour Party to withdraw it. The party, however, has not accepted the demand completely.

“The Kashmir emergency motion came through the democratic process of the labour party conf. However, we recognise that some of the language used could be misinterpreted or lead to misunderstanding about the Labour policy among the India diaspora,” Labour leader wrote in a letter to these organisations, insisting that party concerns over the state of human rights and lockdown remains. “The Labour party is an internationalist organisation and is committed to ensuring the human rights of all citizens of Kashmir are respected and upheld. That remains our priority and I agree that we should not allow the politics of the Sub-continent to divide communities here in Britain.”

Given the Kashmir origin population living in UK, they have kept Kashmir in news since September 5. On August 15, there was some violence outside the Indian High Commission as well. They were planning a 10,000 strong protest at the same venue on October 27.

This time, however, Delhi used its diplomacy to ensure that the protest does not take place. Reports appearing in Delhi media suggest that Scotland Yard has intervened and changed the venue of the protest. It was supposed to start at Downing Street at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm outside India House. Now it will begin at 2 pm and end at Trafalgar Square. “The development follows mounting pressure from Indian quarters concerned over a repeat of violence seen on August 15 and September 3, when some people were assaulted and parts of the mission building were attacked,” The Hindustan Times reported, saying India had sent a note verbale to the Foreign Office on the issue.

“Taking into account the anticipated number of protestors, and in order to prevent serious disruption, we have imposed pre-event conditions on the Free Kashmir protest under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act,

Matt Twist of Scotland Yard was quoted saying. “The assembly and the march must start in Parliament Street, process along Whitehall and conclude in Trafalgar Square. These are very iconic London locations, allowing good visibility of the protest, but will avoid the serious disruption that would be caused if roads closer to the High Commission became blocked.”

The scheduled protest was in news for many days. It was Leicester East Member of Parliament Keith Vaz who wrote an open letter wrote to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel that the October 27, protest will coincide with the Diwali celebrations. Later, London Mayor, Sidiq Khan, while defending the right of peaceful protest had advised organizers not to go ahead with it because it will “deepen divisions”. The issue was raked up by Conservative MP Bob Blackman in the House of Commons that led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intervention: “We must all be clear in this House that violence and intimidation anywhere in this country are wholly unacceptable.”

LADAKH

The Siachen glacier may not be a peace park but it is now open to adventure tourists. Throwing open the Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge over the Shyok River in Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: “The Siachen area is now open for tourists and tourism. From Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post, the entire area has been opened for Tourism purposes.” This can be a game-changer for the region that is driving good response from the Chadder Track during peak winters. Interestingly, it was permission for trekkers to go up the glacier that led to the occupation of the glacier by India and Pakistan.

JAMMU

Jammu and Kashmir Police Crime Branch have arrested, yet again, Gola Shah, a land grabber, who had 21 police cases against him. Originally, Ravinder Kumar, the Greater Kailash resident was presented before the court in the 20thFIR, registered against him in 2011, under Section 420, 120-B of the RPC. Of the 21 cases, in 14, he is involved in land grabbing. The first police case registered against him was in 2002 at the Gangyal police station. In 2006, he was booked under the Public Safety Act for repeated land-grabbing incidences. At different times he has been booked for crimes under fraud (420 in common parlance), trespass, Arms Act at different police stations. In all these cases, police have investigated and arrested his 33 accomplices, mostly members of the land mafia.

PUNITIVE DIPLOMACY IN ACTION

Erdogan-ModiTURKEY: Delhi has picked a leaf from Chinese diplomacy envisaging Beijing using trade as a lever to punish partners. With Malaysia “punished”, it is the turn for Turkey to pay costs for talking on Kashmir and in Pakistan’s favour. Prime Minster Narendra Modi has cancelled his December 2019, Turkey trip. India is in the process of cancelling a US$2.3 billion tender granted to Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard to help build five 45,000-tonne fleet support ships (FSS) for the Hindustan Shipyard Limited for the use of Indian Navy.

The two leaders Modi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had met in Osaka in June and decided that Modi would be coming to Turkey by the year end. However, he spoke quite harshly against India, in favour of Kashmir, in his UN General Assembly speech that led to the cancellation of Modi’s visit. Later, Turkey joined China and Malaysia at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris in preventing Pakistan’s black-listing for which Delhi had put in a lot of effort. Pakistan continues to be in grey category till February. A blacklisting will prevent Pakistan from accessing multi-lateral funding.

Modi had visited Turkey during the G20 Summit in Antalya in 2015. Erdogan paid a two-day visit to India in July 2018.

Meanwhile, Mahathir has refused to retract his Kashmir statement.

Bloomberg, in a report citing people familiar with the matter, said New Delhi is now exploring the possibility of tariff and non-tariff measures to limit imports of goods from the two countries.

“The options include stringent quality tests and a safeguard tax in addition to existing levies,” the news wire wrote, quoting the people declining to be identified as a final decision had yet to be reached.

The report added that the spokesman for India’s finance and commerce ministries could not be immediately reached for comment. “We speak our mind, and we don’t retract and change. We felt the people of Kashmir have benefitted from the UN resolution, and all what we are saying is that [everyone]should all abide, not just Pakistan [but]even the US should abide by the UN resolution. Otherwise, what is the good in having the UN?” Bloomberg quoted him saying. “Sometimes we have to have strained relationship, but we want to be friendly with people. Malaysia is a trading nation, we need markets, so we are nice to people. But also we have to speak up for people, so sometimes what we say is liked by some, but disliked by some.”

The statement came a day after India’s top vegetable trade body, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI), asked its members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil. The call for boycott came days after India raised its customs duty on refined palm oil from Malaysia by 5% for six months with a potential to raise it further. Besides, the testing parameters have also been made stringent. The boycott call has led Malaysian palm oil futures FCPOc3 slip substantially.

Malaysia’s exports to India were worth US$10.8 billion (S$14.7 billion) in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, while imports totalled US$6.4 billion.

Amid all this tension, Dr S Jaishankar met his Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting in Azerbaijan where they held an “open and candid conversation on outstanding issues.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) is leading an ASEAN group of intellectuals to Pakistani Kashmir to interact with the people on the invitation of Pakistan national assembly.

Now Prime Minister Modi is Riyadh bound to have meeting with Saudi king and the powerful crown prince on October 28. Modi will deliver a speech to the Saudi investment summit and sign various agreements.

GUPKAR

Kashmir’s five times Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, had a quite birthday while in incarceration at his home. Currently detained under Public Safety Act, he turned 82 on Monday. Authorities have converted his home into a sub-jail and his wife Molly has been permitted to live with him. Though a party animal, Dr Abdullah has not been making birthday bashes in celebration. The people, however, had been sending him birthday wishes, every fall.

Authorities did permit his daughter to see him on his birthday. Prior to them, however, it was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was the first to tweet her greetings. “Birthday wishes to Farooq Abdullah Ji. These are difficult times for you. We stand by you. Please stay positive. We pray for your good health @OmarAbdullah,” Mamta tweeted.

ISLAMABAD

In the wake of February-confrontation between India and Pakistan, the details revealed recently said Pakistan scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after PAF intercepted a Kabul-bound Spice Jet plane carrying 120 passengers on September 23. The reason: India’s aviation regulator has assigned it an electronic code (mode-S transponder) that is meant exclusively for military aircrafts. As Pakistani radars detected an “IAF” aircraft, two F-16s intercepted the plane to verify its identity. “The Spice Jet pilots were then told to “hold the plane” in the sky as the F-16s continued to flank it on both sides,” The Hindu reported the aerial drama. “After confirming that it was a harmless, civilian plane on a scheduled flight from New Delhi to Kabul, Pakistan Air Force jets escorted it to the Afghanistan border to allow it to complete its journey.” Unlike commercial airlines that file their six monthly schedules with the aviation regulator, the military aircrafts carrying VIPs have to submit their flight path and seek prior permission for each flight when flying through another country.

DELHI

Four persons were arrested at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport for their alleged involvement in smuggling gold worth over Rs 99 lakh in three separate incidents. One incident involves two Kashmir residents who flew in from Dubai. They were detected crossing the green channel and the search led to the recovery of five silver-coated gold bangles, weighing 1.275 kg from them. Customs officials said the bangles worn by the Srinagar residents were covered by the sleeves of their shirts and cost around Rs 44 lakh. The bangles were seized and the persons arrested. The two had admitted that they smuggled 2.407 kg of gold in the past.

SRINAGAR

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths raided 15 locations in Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi after it registered a case in aRs 1100 crore bank loan dispensed by J&K Bank under Mushtaq Ahmad’s leadership. His home was among four residences of bank executives that were raided.

The case pertains to the investigations in aRs 1100 crore loan to Rice Exports India (REI) Agro Limited and a case was registered against Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, and 22 others. ACB has found that bank’s Mahim (Mumbai) extended a Rs 550 crore loan and the Vasant Vihar branch sanctioned Rs 139 crore loan to REI Agro Ltd on “fake documents and in violation of the laid down banking procedure during the year 2011-2013’’. The loan was approved for paying the farmers the cost of the paddy that the company had purchased. A year later, the loan was declared a Non-Performing Assets (NPAs).

Besides, the Vasant Vihar branch had taken over aRs 85 crore loan obtained by the company from IDFC and IREDA and this account was also declared an NPA. Later, however, the bank recovered Rs 54 crore by selling the company’s machines. ACB has concluded that the loans were extended in connivance with and under patronage of then Chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh under a “conspiracy spread over several years, in a planned and pre-designed manner, by misuse and abuse of their authority” just to serve the interest of the REI promoters.  The loan of Rs 635 crore (Rs 550+85 crore) had an interest liability of Rs 489.45 crore thus making aRs 1124.45 crore loss to the bank.

BARAMULLA

Ishrat Rashid (KL Image by Bilal Bahadur)

Ishrat Rashid (KL Image by Bilal Bahadur)

Ishrat Rasheed, the young girl, who survived a spinal cord injury during the 2016 unrest while jumping in panic after police raided her home, has become Kashmir’s first specially-abled international basketball player. She is Thailand bound in November to participate in the International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. Amazed over the turn of events, Ishrat was feeling lost after being bed-ridden for all these years till she discovered a future at Srinagar’s Voluntary Medicare Society (VMS). She attended the wheelchair competition in Chennai, courtesy army and police, and was judged the best and selected for an international event.

Additional allowances for children’s education (Rs 607 Cr), hostel (Rs 1823 Cr), transport (Rs 1200 Cr), leave travel concession (Rs 1000 Cr) and health (Rs 108 Cr) and other allowances (Rs 62 Cr) to the employees in Jammu and Kashmir under seventh pay commission will add Rs 4800 crore to the yearly outgo. In anticipation of the ‘bonanza’, the employees were supposed to take Rs 35788.45 crore as their salary, pension and other benefits from an overall budget of Rs 88911 crore as per the budget for the current fiscal 2019-20.

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