NATIONAL POLITICS: Stern message for Omar – so what political solution do the instigators want, except separation from India ?!!
BY MUZAFFAR RAINA
Srinagar, July 8: Home secretary G.K. Pillai has delivered a tough message to the Jammu and Kashmir government: deal “sternly” with protesters.
The tough words came on a day strict curfew was enforced in the Valley by thousands of men in uniform. The army staged another flag march on the outskirts of the city.
Official sources said Pillai held a series of meetings with chief minister Omar Abdullah, police chief Kuldeep Khoda, special DG CRPF N.K. Tripathi, the army’s 15 Corps commander Lt Gen. G.S. Marwah, director-general of military operations Lt Gen. A. M. Verma and other officers.
“There were directions to deal sternly with the protesters, primarily those instigating the violence or those funding the stone throwers,” a government official said.
“The home secretary also assured full support to the government and said more paramilitary force personnel would be made available to the state.”
Omar has been wavering on how to deal with the fresh groundswell of azaadi in the Valley. He fears he may have to face serious consequences if he takes harsh measures.
A National Conference leader said the government was wary of taking action against the protesters as they enjoy “massive public support”. “Whatever is the perception of the Centre that these protests are instigated from across the border, the fact is the entire Valley is protesting and we cannot wage war against our own people.
“The chief minister is mindful that the party had to pay a heavy price for the policies during Farooq sahib’s rule (1996-2002). When Omar sahib took over, he wanted to reverse all those policies.”
Farooq is blamed for measures like strengthening the Special Operations Group of Police, which was responsible for human rights abuses.
The NC leader said the government had taken measures to check the unrest. Hundreds of youths had been arrested and most members of the separatist leadership were in jail or under house arrest.
Cash trail to stones – Delhi claims evidence of payments from Lashkar channel abroad to Valley mobs engaged in street battles – unreal, True Lies ?!!
BY NISHIT DHOLABHAI
New Delhi, July 8: The Union home ministry has claimed it has evidence that stone throwers in the Kashmir Valley are being paid from abroad by Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives through a money-transfer agency.
The agency — one of the well-known ones in the business of channelling funds across countries — has been used by the Lashkar operatives in Pakistan to route money to Dubai and then transfer it to Srinagar and other towns in Kashmir.
The remittances for throwing stones — sometimes as less as Rs 300 daily — have been tracked by intelligence agencies, ministry sources said.
Last year, the agencies were perplexed why such small amounts of money were being transferred from places in Europe to Kashmir. The riddle has apparently been solved now.
In the past three months, 716 incidents of violence have been reported in the Valley and more than 200 paramilitary personnel injured, the sources said.
Union home minister P. Chidambaram appeared to acknowledge such cross-border financial links to the current unrest in the Valley when he threw his lot behind embattled chief minister Omar Abdullah.
In a move seen as his support to Omar, Chidambaram again appealed to the people of Kashmir to “respect” the curfew. He also urged parents to discourage their children from participating in the mob violence.
The Centre appears keen to retain Omar despite the spiralling trouble.
The CRPF has been told to desist from saying that only two of the 15 deaths in recent firing incidents were caused by the central force’s bullets. Most of the deaths were, apparently, from firing by Omar’s police.
Eight more companies of the BSF and the CRPF have been sent to assist the police.
At the same time, the Centre wants Omar to “engage more politically” and take other political parties into confidence in quelling the flare-up.
BJP calls for all-party meet – stone pelters allegedly rewarded ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, July 8: The BJP demanded that the government must convene an all-party meeting to discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation and find a way of resolving the crisis.
It appealed to the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party to stop “playing competitive communal politics”.
The BJP’s spokesperson, Prakash Javadekar, asked the Centre to see that law and order did not go out of hand when the Amarnath pilgrimage was on because “one of the goal of separatists is to create tension during this period”.
Javadekar took the Congress-NCP government to task for firstly failing to curb the stone-pelters and for “rewarding” the “surrendered stone-pelters” with jobs and allotment of shops.
“This low-cost-high impact stone-throwing technique was perfect for separatists as security forces really have no answer for it. A small stone has catalysed the ground situation.
“These stone-throwers could have easily been disciplined because if it was a choice between being paid Rs 500 for the act and spending 50 days in jail, nobody would have gone for the first. Instead they are gifted with a special rehabilitation package. The government’s message was throw a stone and you will get a job,” he alleged.
Javadekar questioned the “double standards” adopted by the Omar Abdullah government towards the central forces and the stone-pelters. “It booked CRPF personnel for the death of a youth during a protest on charges of murder. But it did not book the youths who are seen in the photos beating up a CRPF jawan mercilessly… this demoralised the forces,” he said.
BJP model for blanket food bill – where the real BPLs get left out and the beneficiaries are those who are not BPL, but party votebanks ?!!
BY RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
New Delhi, July 8: The radicals in the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) are unlikely to give in to the conservatives’ case against the universalisation of food subsidy.
They insisted that not only was universalisation theoretically possible but it also worked “successfully” on the ground.
In what could make the Centre squirm, they cited BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh as an example of what an inclusive public distribution system (PDS) could do.
An indication that the NAC’s radicals were in a mood to push the envelope on Sonia’s food security bill — despite the reservations expressed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and a section of the UPA government — was evident in an article written by Jean Dreze, a member of the council, in The Hindu today.
An NAC source hoped Sonia could break her silence on the grey zones in the bill when they meet on July 14. “She is basically supportive of our (the radicals) premises. We will have to see how far she takes them,” the source claimed.
Dreze, with Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander and N.C. Saxena, form the nucleus of a group within the panel that is campaigning for an overhaul of the existing bill. The “conservatives” maintain that it is fiscally untenable to universalise the PDS given the cost of food subsidies.
Dreze, an honorary professor at the Delhi School of Economics, contended that a targeted PDS — as it exists now — was “unreliable and divisive”. Secondly, the tentative calculations suggesting that a comprehensive food security law might cost the state nearly Rs 1 lakh crore was not as much of a “mind-boggling tag” as it sounded.
Dreze wrote that the investigations into the distribution of BPL cards threw up enormous “exclusion errors”. According to the National Sample Survey in 2004-05, half of the rural household falling below the “poverty line” did not have a card.
While he conceded “errors” could be minimised with better BPL identification, he added that there was no reliable way of going about it and it was bound to be a “hit-or-miss” exercise.
“A landless household, for instance, may or may not be poor, and similarly with a Scheduled Caste or female-headed household. The fact that a household may be well-off today, but poor tomorrow (because of, say, illness, displacement or unemployment) does not help matters. Last but not least, the power equations in the rural areas are such that any BPL survey is liable to be manipulated,” Dreze said.
Calling targeting “divisive”, he claimed that a reason why the PDS worked better in Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu was because the system was “inclusive” and ensured that everyone — or at least 80 per cent of the population — had a stake in its proper functioning.
On the projected cost of the food law, Dreze said the amount was “just about 1.5 per cent of India’s GDP”. “Is that an excessive price to pay to protect everyone from hunger?” he asked.
Khap pits PC against colleagues – Home minister faces opposition on honour-killing proposals – no reprisals against the instigators in this 21st century laws in India ?!!
BY RASHEED KIDWAI
New Delhi, July 8: P. Chidambaram today faced stiff opposition from cabinet colleagues for suggesting that stringent laws be brought to deter panchayat councils from running kangaroo courts and murder be redefined under the Indian Penal Code to include “honour killings”.
The Union home minister also proposed amending the Indian Evidence Act to put the onus of proving innocence on the khap panchayats whose extra-legal verdicts sometimes result in honour killings.
The sharp division in the cabinet prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set up a group of ministers (GoM) on the issue. All state governments have been asked to furnish their response to the cabinet subcommittee.
At least six cabinet members, led by Kapil Sibal, attacked Chidambaram for suggesting that IPC Section 300 be amended to make all khap panchayat members liable to be sentenced to death or life if their verdicts result in honour killings.
An honour killing is the murder of a person accused of “bringing shame” on his/her family by refusing to enter into a marriage, committing adultery or being in a relationship disapproved by the family.
Of late, many women in Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh have been the victims of such honour killings by their own families. This has caused outrage and prompted the cabinet to look for fresh ways to tackle the matter.
Sibal today opposed Chidambaram when he proposed that murder should be redefined to include death caused by persons “acting in concert with or at the behest of a member of the family or a member of a group or clan or caste panchayat in the belief that the victim has brought dishonour upon them”. Sibal asked why the home minister was seeking a fresh definition when murder in all forms and manner was considered murder.
Chidambaram cited the example of Sati to insist a fresh definition was required to include honour killings. But Union sports and youth minister M.S. Gill objected, saying such “sweeping provisions” could be used for “witch-hunting”.
Gill said the proposed amendment would allow police to act against a large section of community leaders and all members of khap panchayats if they took any action against persons perceived to have brought dishonour on a clan or caste panchayat.
Union surface transport minister Kamal Nath, social justice minister Mukul Wasnik and some others expressed apprehension, saying the khap issue was a sensitive one and a part of the deep social, religious sentiments and folk culture. Along with human resource development minister Sibal, Gill and Pawan Bansal, they sought wider consultation on the issue.
Chidambaram, however, found support in Union information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni. She is said to have insisted that along with a new law, social awareness must be created to root out the problem.
The Union cabinet is also believed to have discussed reforms in the marriage Act. The government apparently plans to do away with the mandatory 30-day notice required for registering marriages.
Sources said there were strong views on the Centre’s decision to send the army to Kashmir. But the Union ministers did not make much noise after it was pointed out that the cabinet committee on security had given the go-ahead.