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Srinagar, Oct 8 In another major step towards return of normalcy to Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday directed that the two-month old advisory asking tourists to leave the valley be lifted from October 10, and also took stock of preparations for the upcoming block development council elections.

Malik held a situation cum Security Review Meeting on Monday with the Advisors and the Chief Secretary. The meeting was also attended by the Principal Secretaries of Planning and Housing & Urban Development Department.

The Governor has been holding Situation cum Security Review Meetings on a daily basis for two hours generally from 6 to 8 p.m. each day since August 5.

Initially, the meetings focussed on reviewing the security scenario following the imposition of restrictions after constitutional changes that were made. For the past six weeks, all the security restrictions were removed in most parts of J&K, the Governor has been focussing on bringing life back to normal.

Some of the major decisions taken in the past in the Situation cum Security Review Meetings include reopening of Higher Secondary Schools; Colleges and Universities; restarting public transport; opening additional travel counters at TRC Srinagar; opening 25 internet kiosks in each district to facilitate the public and Government departments; monitoring attendance in Government offices, etc, a statement from the Governor’s office said.

In Monday’s meeting the Governor was briefed about the October 24 BDC elections. He was informed that there is active interest in the BDC elections and most of the seats of Chairpersons of BDCs would be filled.

All assistant returning officers and assistant electoral registration officers have been provided mobile phone facility to ensure smooth conduct of elections. Nomination papers were accepted even on Monday.

The Governor was informed that as BDC elections were party based, the delegations of parties whose leaders are in jail are being allowed to meet party presidents once, so that they can take a decision on elections and authorise someone to approve candidates.

The Governor was also briefed about the progress in apple procurement which has crossed 850 tonnes and worth Rs 3.25 crores. Some changes in the rates of apple are being made which will be announced shortly.

The Governor directed that the Home Department’s advisory asking tourists to leave the valley be lifted immediately. This will be implemented on October 10, it said.

Cities

Nirbhaya case: Tihar execution chamber ready, curbs on convicts

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) With the secret shifting of Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, from Mandoli jail to Tihar jail, and heightened restrictions on the other three convicts, the execution of the death sentence awarded to the four dreaded criminals doesn’t seem to be too far away.

Top placed sources from Tihar jail said, “As soon as Pawan Kumar Gupta reached Tihar from Mandoli jail, we banned communication between all the four convicts. Earlier, the three convicts in the case lodged in Tihar jail used to talk among themselves during the day time.”

Though, there have been no orders for the execution of the convicts but the Tihar jail administration is busy with the preparations to hang them.

The sources said, “The cleaning of the execution chamber in Tihar jail can’t be ignored. The gallows are also been repaired by the inmates of Tihar. The activities going on in the execution chamber and increased security of it signals that something is on the cards.”

Only a couple of policemen were guarding the execution chamber after the hanging of terrorist Afzal Guru but now Tamil Nadu Special Police Force personnel have been deployed for its security. Apart from this, senior officials of the jail also take rounds to keep an eye on its security.

“Not only the security of the execution chamber has been increased but the rust on the lever has also been cleaned. The jail authorities have also checked whether the lever is working properly or not,” a source told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“The lights of the chamber have also been repaired and it has been cleaned,” sources said.

Apart from this, to carry out the hanging of the convicts the jail authorities will require a hangman.

Former legal advisor of Tihar jail, Sunil Gupta told IANS, “In 2013, during the execution of Afzal Guru it was not necessary that only a hangman will pull the lever. An experienced official pulled the lever and carried out the hanging but now as per the new Delhi jail manual of 2018 this can’t be done. A trained hangman is required to carry out the hanging as per the new manual.”

Since, it is a sensitive matter, all the Tihar jail administration officers are tight-lipped but sources said that the administration is trying to contact all the prisons across the country to know if they have an ‘experienced’ and ‘trained’ hangman.

(Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan can be contacted at [email protected])

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India

Over a dozen pleas filed in SC against new citizenship Act

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, Dec 13 : More than a dozen petitions were moved in the Supreme Court on Friday challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019.

The petitioners include Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students Union and other petitioners.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Thursday night, making it into an Act.

The petitioners, which include Peace Party, NGOs ‘Rihai Manch’ and Citizens Against Hate, advocate M.L. Sharma and law students, have a common issue with the amended Act, which declares members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and face religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

Moitra’s counsel mentioned the plea before the Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and sought urgent hearing, but it was denied. The court asked her counsel to go to the mentioning officer. Her plea said that the Act is a “divisive, exclusionary and discriminatory piece of legislation that is bound to rend the secular fabric irreparably.”

Jairam Ramesh claimed the Act promotes rather than checks illegal migration and is inextricably intertwined with the bizarre concept of a national National Register of Citizens, “as it does not even attempt to address the humanitarian and logistical issues of excluding millions and is clueless as to where to house them, where to deport them and how to deal with them.”

He contended the Act is manifestly violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution and contrary to the law laid down by the apex court. It also violates the Assam Accord and International Covenants, he said.

The petition by NGOs ‘Rihai Manch’ and Citizens Against Hate, said the Act violates the fundamental rights, including that of equality before the law, and basic structure of the Constitution. The plea was filed through advocate Fauzia Shakil.

All Assam Students Union (AASU) moved the Court stating due to the continued influx of illegal immigrants in Assam, the Centre has failed to protect the rights of the indigenous people of Assam. AASU claimed the Act violates the obligations of the Centre under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A writ petition was also filed by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) claiming that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) 2019, passed by the Parliament on Wednesday, violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

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India

Centre moots Article 371 in lieu of 370 for Jammu and Kashmir

This marks a major step forward by the Centre which is trying to work out the future politics and policies for the UT following the abrogation of Article 370.

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Srinagar, Dec 13 (IANS) A new dispensation may be afoot in Jammu & Kashmir with the Centre proposing granting of Article 371 as compensation for the abrogation of Article 370.

Under Article 371, the Constitution provides special provisions for all the hill states with domicile rights, similar to that enjoyed under Article 35A in J&K.

In this regard, it is learnt that the Union Home Ministry has moved a proposal to the Law Department of J&K Union Territory (UT) for its feedback on granting Article 371 as compensation for the revocation of Article 370, which granted special status to J&K.

As per reports, the Law Department has been told to study the new framework and revert to the Home Ministry with feedback.

It is learnt that the proposal is currently being discussed in the Law Department, which will frame the contours of the new arrangement for the UT.

This marks a major step forward by the Centre which is trying to work out the future politics and policies for the UT following the abrogation of Article 370.

For normal political activity to resume in the state, some new initiatives are also being pushed in a tentative manner.

There are reports that a section of senior politicians from Kashmir, including PDP patron and former deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig, are in favour of such a move and have already indicated that they are willing to settle for Article 371.

“We are a hill state and the Constitution has provided special provisions under Article 371 for all the hill states with domicile rights like those they enjoyed under Article 35A,” Beigh had last month told a media outlet.

It is unlikely that PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, who is under detention since August 5 when Article 370 was revoked, will be willing to settle for this formula while some PDP leaders have indicated that the position to bargain for Article 371 could be Beig’s personal view and not that of the party.

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