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370 DAYS ON: Decision On Article 370 Seems Vindicated

The internal and external situation on the first anniversary of the revocation of Article 370 appears assuring.

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If the COVID-19 outbreak had not roiled a return to near normalcy, Jammu and Kashmir would have been breathing a lot easier with notable improvement in the security situation a year after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.

The recently released Ministry of Home Affairs report shows a dramatic 36 per cent decline in the number of terrorist incidents since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of terrorists killed by security forces increased to 136 from January 1 till July 15, 2020, higher than the tally of 126 in the same months last year.


On the other hand, 35 security forces personnel and 22 civilians were martyred since the beginning of this year, compared to 75 uniformed personnel and 23 civilians in the first half of 2019.

There has also been only one IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attack in Kashmir since January 1, compared to six IED blasts during the same period last year.

It is also noteworthy that security operations across the districts of Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam, seen as the nerve centre of the militancy, have dealt a debilitating blow to many terrorist groups, most notably the notorious Hizbul Mujahideen.

Facing one of its bleakest hours, this three-decade-old terrorist group reportedly lost 51 of its militants in the first half of 2020, including its longest-serving leader Riyaz Naikoo.


Close on the heels of his death came the news of the killing of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Junaid Sehraie on May 20, followed by the killing of Afghan war veteran and IED expert Abdul Rehman alias ‘Fouji Bhai’ of the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

In addition, the top political leadership from National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been released in multiple batches within seven months of the scrapping of Article 370 provisions, which includes the release of NC leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah in March 2020.

However, PDP chief and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is among the few who remain under house arrest.

However, the upshot of these successes has been tempered by a spurt in the COVID-19 cases (over 20,000), with over 370 deaths reported by August 2, in Jammu and Kashmir. The lockdown to fight the pandemic has been extended till August 5.

Confidence sans Complacency:


The impressive gains secured by the Indian security forces clearly controvert the unwarranted claims of a few radical Kashmiri leaders and academicians last year that any legislative action taken to de-operationalise Article 370 would result in a wave of unmitigated violence across the valley and beyond.

However, most high-ranking military officials remain wary of being overly sanguine in their assessment of the situation, which is often described as stable but sensitive. Noted journalist and security issues expert Praveen Swami believes that violence levels ebb and flow in the valley and it would be wrong to make summary judgments too soon.

Although the counter-infiltration grid has been made more robust and effective, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 19 Infantry Division in Baramulla, Major General Virendra Vats, told a press conference recently that intelligence inputs indicate that up to 250-300 terrorists currently wait at launch pads across the border to infiltrate into India.

However, Jammu and Kashmir police sources are more concerned about local recruitment, which is said to have risen in the valley.

According to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, “In 2020 so far 79 youngsters have joined various terror tanzeems (organisations) while last year in 2019, 135 were identified who joined various terror groups”.

Economic hardships in the wake of COVID-19, unemployment and opposition to the new domicile law seem to be aggravating youth resentment. Some observers even opine that the absence of political protests might be pushing more youngsters toward terrorism.

Meanwhile, terrorist groups are trying to abort any revival of the political process by targeting the emerging political leadership. On July 8, 2020, unidentified militants gunned down Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sheikh Waseem Bari, along with his brother Umar Sultan and father Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, in Bandipora District in North Kashmir.

Undeterred, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP has planned a 15-day-long programme from August 5 to mark the first anniversary of the revocation of the special status provisions under Article 370.

It is believed that the political process would gather steam following the completion of the ongoing delimitation exercise, which could pave the way for fresh elections.

The New ‘Non-Jihadi’ Terror Tack:


Meanwhile, a more insidious game is being played from across the border. To counter the disarray and infighting within a discredited Hurriyat and the terminal retreat of old terrorist groups like Hizbul Mujahideen, new terror outfits with non-Arabic, ‘non-sectarian’ nomenclatures have come to the fore.

The Resistance Front (TRF) has risen to prominence as a supposedly homegrown movement, despite markings of Lashkar-e-Taiba smudged all over it.

It seems the usual masterminds across the border now prefer English titles for their terror proxies so that such groups are more favourably received in the West than their much-reviled jihadist predecessors.

On the dark web, another terror fledgeling named ‘People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF)’ recently issued a video calling on the Kashmiris to carry out attacks on the Indian forces.

Perhaps, the inspiration for this name came from the Antifa (anti-fascist) movement in the United States.  Thus, the hoax of pleasing Allah has given way to placating an anti-Donald Trump wave, which it is believed would sweep the US presidential elections in November.

Dashed Hopes in Joe Biden:

After being “disappointed” by the poor response to his international outreach on the Kashmir issue last year, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a new plan to rake up the issue on the August 5 anniversary.

Still, expectations have been managed somewhat as the planned global outreach is limited to three countries this time – Turkey, Malaysia and China, in addition to a visit to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on that day.

Following recent India-China border clashes, US Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden has issued a clear statement that the India-US partnership will find “high priority” in his prospective administration, which might have dashed any Pakistani hope for a change in US policy on the Kashmir issue, with the possible coming of a new president.16

In sum, the internal and external situation on the first anniversary of the historic revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir appears assuring, even as the need for safeguarding the initial gains calls for sustained efforts.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Originally published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.inhere.

Adil Rasheed

Dr. Adil Rasheed is a Research Fellow at IDSA, New Delhi. Author of the book ISIS: Race to Armageddon (2015), he has been a researcher and political commentator in various international think tanks and media organizations for over 17 years, both in the UAE and India.

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J&K Approves Re-Allocation Of Nearly 2,000 Posts For Kashmiri Hindus (‘Pandits’)

The recruitment will be conducted only on the basis of written or skill tests for suitable candidates.

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NEW DELHI: The Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Council on Wednesday approved re-allocation of nearly 2,000 posts for Kashmiri Pandits who want to settle in the Valley, PTI reported. This was done under the prime minister’s package for the community.

The administrative council, which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today, approved the re-allocation of 1,997 number of unfilled supernumerary posts for recruitment of registered Kashmiri migrants and non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who are willing to serve and settle down in Kashmir under the prime minister’s package,” a government spokesperson said.

This re-allocation is part of the 3,000 posts announced in 2015. So far, only 806 applicants have been selected and 1,997 positions remain vacant.


The Administrative Council (AC) which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, today approved the re-allocation of 1997 number of unfilled supernumerary posts for recruitment of registered Kashmiri migrants and non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who are willing to serve and settle down in Kashmir under the Prime Minister’s Package.

The Administrative Council also approved conducting the recruitment only on the basis of written test/skill test, without viva-voce, for the selection of suitable candidates through the J&K Services Selection Board within six months of the referral of posts by the Department of Disaster Management, Relief, and Rehabilitation & Reconstruction.

The re-allocated posts include posts of Sub Inspector Commercial Taxes and Assistant Compiler in Finance Department (997), Field Assistant, Field Supervisor (Mushroom) and Assistant Store Keeper in Agriculture, Production & Farmers Welfare Department (150), and Depot Assistant in Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Department (300), and Class IV in Revenue Department (550).


In order to fast track the recruitments, the posts have been allocated with simpler recruitment rules based on Graduation based; Higher Secondary based and Matric based qualification criteria.

The decision of re-allocation of the unfilled posts is aimed at accelerating the recruitment under the PM’s package and the benefits of employment to Kashmiri migrants and non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits.

Earlier:

Kashmir Valley’s largest group of the community, the Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti on Tuesday claimed that it was being harassed and their concerns were not being addressed by the local administration.

In a statement released, the group said, “Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (DMRR&R) Department is punishing left out (Non-Migrant) Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus for staying back in Kashmir Valley. Since abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A we the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley are facing harassment and isolation at the hands of Relief Department. Despite multiple directions from Hon’ble High Court and recommendations from the Central Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Relief Department is playing with the life and security of the Non-Migrant Kashmiri Pandits – Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir Valley.”


The group’s chief Sanjay Tickoo announced that he would begin a fast-unto-death until their demands were met.

The association’s main demands included 500 government jobs, which it said were promised to the community during a High Court ruling in 2016.

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REFORM: Historic, ‘Game Changer’ Labour Laws Passed

Transparent and simple mechanism reducing to one registration, one license and one return for all codes.

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NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha in its sitting today passed the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020, and Social Security Code, 2020. With this, the decks for the enactment of these codes have been cleared as Lok Sabha had passed these Bills yesterday.

The Bills can be termed as historic game-changers, which will harmonize the needs of workers, industries and other related parties.

Speaking during the discussions on the bills, Union Minister Santosh Gangwar said that these Labour Codes will prove to be an important milestone for the welfare of the workers in the country.

The OSH Code envisages a safe working environment for workers especially women. The Minister added that an effective dispute resolution mechanism is being ensured through the Industrial Relations Code providing for time-bound dispute resolution system in every institution.


The Social Security Code provides a framework to include organized and unorganized sector workers under the ambit of comprehensive social security.

The Social Security Code contains provisions relating to EPFO, ESIC, building construction workers, maternity benefits, gratuity and social security fund for unorganized sector workers. “Through this Code, we are moving towards fulfilling the Prime Minister’s vision of Universal Social Security”, Shri Gangwar added.

He added that unprecedented steps were taken by Government and launched many welfare measures such as increasing the maternity leave for our sisters from 12 weeks to 26 weeks; women were allowed to work in mines under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana. Formal employment was increased with portability in EPFO and welfare schemes and expansion of ESIC facilities to our fellow citizens.


It may be noted that extensive consultation was undertaken by the Government before finalizing the Labour Codes. These include discussions in nine Tripartite Meetings, 4 sub-committees, 10 inter-ministerial consultations, Trade Unions, Employers’ Associations, State Governments, Experts, International Bodies and also invited public suggestions/comments from people by placing them in the public domain for 2-3 months.

The objective of labour reforms is to have their labour laws in line with the changing world of workplace and provide an effective and transparent system, balancing the needs of workers and industries.

Gangwar emphasized that the structure of welfare and rights of Atmanirbhar Shramik is based on four pillars.

The first pillar isSalary Protection‘. The Minister said that even after 73 years of independence, and despite having 44 labour laws, only about 30 per cent of India’s 50 crore workers had the legal right to minimum wages and all the workers were not paid on time.

“For the first time, our government has worked to correct this discrepancy and has given the legal right to all the 50 crore organized and unorganized sector workers to get minimum wages and timely wages.”

The second pillar isLabour Safety‘. Gangwar said is to give him a safe working environment to protect his health and lead a happy life. For this, he said, for the first time in the OSH Code, annual health check-up has been provided for workers above a certain age. Additionally, to keep the standards related to safety effective and dynamic, they can be replaced with changing technology by the National Occupational Safety & Health Board. In order to provide a safe environment, workers and employers should decide together, for this, a safety committee has been provided for in all institutions.


He also informed the House that the OSH Code reduced the minimum qualification from 240 days to 180 days for leave. The Bill also provides for the payment of at least 50 per cent of the penalty imposed on an employer for injury or death at the workplace, to the aggrieved worker, in addition to other benefits. With all these provisions, an effort has been made to give workers a safe working environment.

Stating that women should have the freedom to do the same work as men, he said that for the first time, a provision has been made that women can work in any type of institution at night as per their choice. “However, the employer will have to make all necessary security arrangements, as determined by the appropriate government”, he added

The third pillar for workers is ‘Comprehensive Social Security‘. In line with this resolution, the scope of ESIC and EPFO ​​is being extended in the Social Security Code. To increase the scope of ESIC, a provision has been made that now its coverage will be in all 740 districts of the country.

In addition to this, the option of ESIC will also be for plantation workers, unorganized sector workers, gigs and platform workers, and institutions with less than 10 workers. If there is a risky work in an institute, that institute will inevitably be brought under the purview of ESIC even if it is a sole labourer.

Similarly, to increase the scope of EPFO, the schedule of the institutions has been removed in the current law and now all those institutions which have 20 or more workers will come under the ambit of the EPF.

Apart from this, the option of EPFO ​​for institutions with less than 20 workers and self-employed workers is also being given in the Social Security Code.

To provide social security to 40 crore unorganized sector workers, he informed, provision for “Social Security Fund” has been made. Through this fund, social security schemes will be made for workers and gigs and platform workers working in the unorganized sector and plans will be formulated to provide all kinds of social security benefits such as death insurance, accident insurance, maternity benefit and pension etc. to these 40 crore workers.

The fourth pillar isSimplified and Effective IR Code‘. Fixed Term Employment to the IR Code, engaged for a short period of their time and do not get service conditions, leave, salary, social security, gratuity etc. like regular employees, he said we have also ensured that Fixed Term Employees’ service conditions, salary, leave and social security will also be the same as a Regular Employee for.

In addition, the Fixed Term Employee has also been given the right to pro-rata Gratuity.

The provisions of Strike in the IR Code do not take back the right of any workers to go on strike.


Prior to going on the strike, the 14-day notice period obligation has been imposed on every institution to attempt to end the dispute through amicable negotiations during this period. Neither the workers nor the industry has any benefit from the workers going on the strike”, he added.

As far as raising the threshold in Retrenchment, Closure or Lay-off in the IR Code from 100 workers to 300 workers, he pointed out that labour is the subject of the concurrent list, and the concerned state governments have right to change the laws. As many as 16 states, using this right, have already increased this limit. Parliamentary Standing Committee also recommended that this limit be increased to 300.

The Minister also informed that according to the Economic Survey 2019, after increasing this Threshold from 100 to 300 in the state of Rajasthan, along with the number of large factories, there has also been an increase in employment generation of workers and an unprecedented reduction in layoffs.

This makes it clear that changing this one provision will motivate investors to set up large factories in the country, and by setting up more factories, more employment opportunities, more workers in our country will be generated for”, he opined.

For the first time in law, Trade Unions are being recognized at the institution level, state level and centre level. For the first time in the IR Code, a provision of the Re-skilling Fund has been made with the objective of increasing the chances of employment again if any worker is missed. These workers will be given 15 days salary for this.

The definition of migrant workers has been broadened. Now all the workers who come from one state to another state and whose salary is less than 18 thousand rupees will come under the definition of migrant labour and will get the benefit of welfare schemes of the government.

Apart from this, there is a provision to create a database for migrant workers, portability of their welfare schemes, a separate helpline arrangement and travel allowance to be given by the employer once a year for them to go to their place of origin.

Under the various labour laws, there will be no need to have multiple registrations or multiple licenses to set up industries.

“As far as possible, now we are going to arrange to provide registration, license etc. in a time-bound manner and under online process”, Gangwar added.

The four Labour Codes seek to ensure the welfare of workers on the one hand, on the other hand, it is an effort to develop new industries through a simple compliance system, which will create employment for our workforce. New opportunities should be created.

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Lok Sabha Passes Jammu And Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

The Bill proposes to include Kashmiri, Dongri and Hindi in the list of official languages of the UT.

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NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, the official language for the Union territory was only Urdu.

Speaking about the bill in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home Ministry G. Kishan Reddy said that that the legislation will fulfil the long-awaited demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.


He said the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir had informed the Centre that people across the Union Territory had been demanding to include the languages they speak and understand as their official language.

The minister pointed out that around 74 per cent people in the Union Territory spoke Kashmiri and Dogri languages.

He said that according to 2011 census, only 0.16 per cent population in Jammu and Kashmir spoke Urdu, while 2.3 per cent spoke Hindi.


The bill was passed by a voice vote.

Meanwhile, the Sikh and Gujjar communities have protested the exclusion of Punjabi and Gojri languages from the bill.

Participating in the debate on the Bill, Naresh Gujral (SAD) termed it “unfortunate” that Punjabi was not included in the Bill and urged the government to reconsider it.

The J&K Constitution included Punjabi and the first Chief Minister of J&K was a Punjabi, he said and added: “It hurts the feeling of those who are settled there. I would urge the government to reconsider because language is the basis of cultural heritage of the community.” He said 13 lakh Punjabis live in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mir Mohammad Fayaz (PDP) demanded inclusion of Gurjari, Punjabi and Pahari in the Bill, saying that the motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” was lacking in the state.


“Include Punjabi, Gurjari and Pahari so that we win the trust of everyone in J&K,” he said.

Ramdas Athawale (RPI) expressed “support to Dogri and Kashmiri languages” and in his poetic style said that a day will come when PoK will come to India.

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