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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Status quo or pre-1953 status?

Several events have conspired to create apprehensions about the report the Union Home Ministry-appointed interlocutors will submit regarding Jammu and Kashmir. As some dangerous formulations can be argued to fall within the purview of the constitution, and the valley is excited over the recent ‘private’ visit of a former executive of Occupied Kashmir (whom chief minister Omar Abdullah reputedly addressed as ‘former prime minister of Azad Kashmir’), the nationalist anxiety is legitimate.

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Several events have conspired to create apprehensions about the report the Union Home Ministry-appointed interlocutors will submit regarding Jammu and Kashmir. As some dangerous formulations can be argued to fall within the purview of the constitution, and the valley is excited over the recent ‘private’ visit of a former executive of Occupied Kashmir (whom chief minister Omar Abdullah reputedly addressed as ‘former prime minister of Azad Kashmir’), the nationalist anxiety is legitimate.

But even the arrogant Omar Abdullah must have been taken aback when the ‘guest’ blurted, “I do not recognize mainstream politicians like Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as elected representatives of the people of Kashmir… Officially Pakistan and PoK Governments does not recognize Jammu and Kashmir Government and the election process. But Omar Abdullah and other leaders of the mainstream political parties are no doubt stakeholders…”

What was the UPA thinking of, granting this man a visa? Though barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary (Pakistan People’s Party) visited Srinagar to attend a wedding, the timing of his visit was unfortunate. Exploiting his celebrity status, he proposed free travel across the Line of Control; anintra-Kashmir conference to solve the Kashmir issue; and said the international community must realise that peace in Afghanistan requires a solution in Kashmir. He met separatist and mainstream leaders, and interlocutor Radha Kumar.  He had the audacity to ask New Delhi not to hang Afzal Guru, convicted in the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.

There are other disturbing voices. A major national daily earlier this month hinted a tectonic shift was underway as the interlocutors may recommend that barring defence, foreign affairs, and communications, J&K should be exempt from Central oversight in all matters.

This indicates a virtual return to the situation that prevailed prior to 1953, which caused deep anxiety to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues, particularly Home Minister Sardar Patel. Although the Instrument of Accession signed by the princes who acceded to the Indian Union, including Maharaja Hari Singh, was exactly on these lines, all States followed the nationalist momentum towards full integration in the new nation.

But Sheikh Abdullah created problems from the start, exploiting India’s vulnerability in the Security Council where Britain and America showed unexpected hostility towards India. The Sheikh projected himself as sole spokesman of the people of the erstwhile kingdom (much as Jinnah did for the subcontinent’s Muslims when demanding Pakistan), but acted on behalf of Muslims alone. He had the Maharaja booted out of the State and dealt a series of cruel blows to the Dogras of Jammu, and was exceedingly harsh on Hindu and Sikh refugees from Occupied Kashmir. Indeed, they have been denied state citizenship to this day.

Though Sheikh Abdullah promised Nehru that “Kashmir will be a part of India,” he all along toyed with the idea of independence. In this spirit, he called for a Constituent Assembly without discussing the matter with Nehru (a step that annoyed the Security Council, to New Delhi’s embarrassment), and ensured unanimous election of National Conference delegates by getting all opposition nominations rejected! Sheikh then used the state Constituent Assembly to abolish the rule of the Maharaja and replaced him with a Sadar-e-Riyasat (Governor) to be elected by the Kashmir Legislative Assembly. For political expediency, he got Yuvraj Karan Singh elected as the first Sadar-e-Riyasat in November 1952. This Constituent Assembly also approved a separate flag for the state for all normal occasions, with the Indian flag restricted to formal functions. At the same time, he ensured that the national Constituent Assembly adopted Article 370 which gave J&K special status.

The state Constituent Assembly was a stratagem towards Sheikh’s ultimate objective of an independent, Switzerland-like tourist paradise. Though leaders like Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, G.M. Sadiq, D.P. Dhar, and others tried to ensure some integration with India, the Sheikh group fought to keep Kashmir as autonomous as possible, with only a tenuous bond with India via accession on defence, communications and foreign affairs. Hence he resented the Centre’s attempts for financial integration and extending the jurisdiction of the Comptroller and Auditor General to the state, insisting that “Kashmir’s accession to India will have to be of a restricted nature”. His growing recalcitrance compelled Maulana Azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai to urge Nehru to dismiss him.

In July 1953, Sheikh Abdullah suddenly went Tanmarg, near Gulmarg, to meet an emissary from Pakistan, leaving Nehru with no choice but to order his dismissal and arrest. Thereafter, Bakshi Ghulam Mohd was sworn in as state prime minister. He led J&K ably and achieved considerable progress in all spheres. Bakshi took the initiative to integrate the top level administration and police with the all-India services, and brought the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to J&K. Several other measures of integration were concluded by the time he resigned in 1963 under the Kamraj Plan. This is the crux of the pre- and post-1953 position.

Obviously, any attempt to undo these linkages and restore the pre-1953 position would trigger off secessionism in the Muslim-majority valley and Muslim-majority districts. This is what London and Washington sought to achieve through UN auspices via Dixon and others. President Barack Obama may re-ignite Kashmir via Farooq Kathwari, member of his Advisory Commission on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recently, Kathwari visited Srinagar to attend a wedding.

Then, People’s Democratic Party MLA Nizam-ud-din Bhat moved a private member’s bill in the J&K Assembly, seeking deletion of sub-clause (b) of Section 147 in the state constitution, which bars legislation challenging J&K’s status as an integral part of India. The Speaker rejected the bill on Sept 16. Formally, the PDP repudiated Bhat’s move, but its October 2008 document, “The Self-Rule Framework for Kashmir Resolution,” had proposed shared sovereignty with Pakistan, economic integration between the two parts of Kashmir, dual currency, demilitarization, and abolition of Article 356 (imposition of President’s Rule) to J&K.

Simultaneously, the British House of Commons’ debate on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir fizzled out for poor attendance. But, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at the end of his term at the Carnegie Endowment, said events in Iran, Pakistan, India and China and other neighbouring countries cannot be separated from US strategy in Afghanistan, and solving the complicated issue of Kashmir would also unlock many issues between India and Pakistan… An ominous trend.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.

This article was first published on Vijayvaani website here

Sandhya Jain
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Sandhya Jain is the Editor of www.vijayvaani.com, an internet-based public opinions forum dedicated to establishing a niche for independent journalism. The forum has been driven by the mainstream media’s selective coverage on a range of issues critical to national sovereignty.


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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

HUGE SUCCESS: Specialist Combat Unit Eliminate 14 Naxals in Gadchiroli

A team of C-60 commandos, a specialised combat unit of the Gadchiroli police, carried out the operation.

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GADCHIROLI (Maharashtra): Fourteen Naxals were killed in an encounter with the police in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district.

Police said a team of C-60 commandos, a specialised combat unit of the Gadchiroli police, carried out the operation.

“Fourteen Naxals were killed in the encounter. Combing operations are still on,” Sharad Shelar, Inspector General of Police, said.

The official said that two district-level commanders of the proscribed outfit, identified as Sainath and Sainyu, were among those killed in the encounter.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Ankush Shinde of Gadchiroli range confirmed the casualties saying,”We have recovered 14 bodies from the spot, which include Sainath and Sinu. This is the first time that two DVC members have been killed in a single operation.”

Sainyu, killed in the operation was a divisional committee member of South Gadchiroli union of CPI (Maoist), and Sainath was commander of Perimili Dalam. The two major divisional committee members in one operation are noted as a major record.

Director General of Police Satish Mathur congratulated the C-60 team which participated in the encounter.

“This is a major operation against Naxals in recent times,” Mathur said.

n 2017, a total number of 19 Naxalites were killed in an encounter region at Gadchiroli. The highest Naxal deaths till now in the above-said region is seven and the number was double in 2013 Korchi tahsil and 2017 in Sironcha tehsil.

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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

President Gives Nod to Ordinance for Death Penalty for Rapists of Children Below 12

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

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NEW DELHI: President ram Nath Kovind promulgated The Criminal Law amendment ordinance, 2018 to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to pave way for a death penalty to those found guilty of raping children up to the age of 12 years.

The President’s nod to the ordinance came after the Union Cabinet’s approval yesterday for tightening the law against people involved in rape, following public outcry over cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unnao.

“Whereas Parliament is not in session and the President is satisfied that the circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.

Earlier, the Cabinet on Saturday approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 to introduce the death penalty for rape of children younger than 12 years.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

Several political leaders cutting across party lines hailed Centre’s move.

“Now, therefore, in an exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of article 123 of the Constitution, the President is pleased to promulgate the following ordinance,” the gazette notification said.

The ordinance stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years.

The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

According to the ordinance, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts “natural life”.

The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.

Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.

Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, it said.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act stand amended with the promulgation of the ordinance after the approval of the President.

The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial.The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.

The deadline for the completion of a trial in all rape cases will be two months.

A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Enhancing the powers of the judiciary to provide stringent punishment in rape cases, the Union Cabinet had approved a number of measures, such as strengthening the prosecution, besides setting up new fast-track courts in consultation with the states and high courts concerned,  according to an official.

The National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders.

This data will be regularly shared with the states and the Union territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents of sex offenders by the police, the official said.

The present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to the victim will also be extended to all districts in the country.

 

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

CRPF Officer Martyred in Gunfight with Maoists

The martyred security person was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

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SUKMA (Chhattisgarh): An officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was martyred in a gunfight with the Maoists in a dense forest in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.

The gunfight took place on Friday night in Kistaram police station area when a team of CRPF’s 212th battalion was out on a search-cum-area domination operation, Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Bastar Range) Sundarraj P said.

The deceased was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

Security forces have launched a combing operation in the area, located around 500 km away from the state capital Raipur.

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