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Modi’s Kashmir strategy boomerangs : Youth radicalised, Army faces heat

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ARMY POLICE STATION JAMMU KASHMIR
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is grim and both the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and the Modi government at the centre has failed to put an end to the killings and violence in Kashmir, increasing radicalisation of youth who are taking up arms rather the crisis has deepened after the kathua gangrape came to light and the manner in which lawyers of the bar council and BJP ministers shielded the accused.

Against the backdrop of the increasing violence in Kashmir, the Indian Army has concluded it would prioritise bringing radicalised youth to the mainstream through a “collective approach” and convince militants to “shun violence and gun culture”. The issue of conducting de-radicalizing exercises along with counter-terror operations in the Kashmir Valley was discussed during the ongoing biannual Army Commanders’ Conference amid reports that Islamic State ideology was molding new-age militants in the state.

Director General Staff Duties Lt Gen AK Sharma said the priority is to conduct counter-terror operations to minimise collateral damage and de-radicalisation of youth who appear to be getting influenced by Islamic State ideology amid heightened violence in the Valley.

But after four years in power at the centre, Ministry of Defence under Modi government has decided to set up a Defence planning committee with National Security Advisor as its head.The DPC will prepare national security strategy, strategic defence review and doctrines; international defence engagement strategy; roadmap to build defence manufacturing eco-system; strategy to boost defence exports; and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.

Apart from internal situation in Jammu and Kashmir, there have been over 650 ceasefire violations in the state in 2018  that have claimed 31 lives, including 16 security personnel.

Moreover, the operations of the armed forces have also been obstructed by the locals in Kashmir.Modi was handed a peaceful Kashmir but his policy has created a mess in Kashmir.The similar policy is being implemented across India where minorities (Muslims, Christians ) are being attacked, Dalits are being lynched and ghastly incidents of rapes in Surat, Unnao and kathua (in which BJP ministers supported the accused) have taken place and the prime minister’s leadership is missing miserably.

But it appears BJP made it a point to change the demography of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by coercive action and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of BJP, has made strong inroads in the state since the formation of BJP Government at the center.

“There has been an unprecedented growth in our Shakhas across the country in the last six years. As on date, there are more than 57,000 Shakhas,” said Dr. Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh (head of Media & Publicity) of RSS.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP used the surgical strikes by the Army to garner political dividends in Uttar  Pradesh elections by putting up posters showing Pictures of army officers which violates army rules, traditions and military ethos.

Modi lacks the leadership quality that’s why he politicised military operations and did not realise the consequence will be borne by the Army at the borders.

The Army has been defamed by the government as it has to work on the directives of the political ruling party at the centre, and the killings have only increased and there has been a trust deficit between the Army and the public.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti recently met Prime Minister and is learnt to have told that the situation is precarious with people getting killed regularly and requested to find ways to put a stop to this while also asking to urgently initiate the dialogue process to address alienation among the youths.

Modi has apparently no strategy to bring peace in Kashmir where armed forces are bearing the brunt of his unrealistic policies and Kashmiris are adopting Wahabism culture due to the harsh restrictions imposed by the government such as internet bans, blocking social media sites and section 144 and curfew.

Mehbooba Mufti has requested repeatedly to the Centre to initiate the dialogue process with all stakeholders including Pakistan but Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s special representative to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for talks, was a very late approach of the Modi government.

It seams as if appointing Dineshwar is a lip service to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir as Centre’s interlocutor had expressed his concern about the trend of local boys joining the ranks of guerrilla outfits.

Mufti must understand that BJP has a tendency to defame its regional political allies in various states and this applies in Jammu and Kashmir too.The annual report released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday has revealed a startling number of killings that took place in the year 2017, in the state.

According to the report, in 2017, there were 342 violent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 80 armed personnel, 40 civilians and 213 militants were killed. The report stated, “The year 2017 also witnessed a 6.21 percent increase and 166.66 percent increase in the number of terrorist incidents and fatalities of civilians respectively in comparison to the corresponding period of 2016.”

After the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani, the protests were handled sternly and the protesters turned to stone pelting. The most alarming situation was witnessed when students, particularly schoolgirls were throwing stones at security personnel convey a deeper problem inside the Valley.Due to the heavy-handed approach by the government, the number of homegrown militants have swelled post-July 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has transformed Kashmir to a volatile situation where Kashmiris which form an integral part of India, feel alienated and Armed forces have to protect our borders from infiltration and due to politics by the political parties even unarmed mob targets them. In the current scenario, security personnel and the Kashmiris are bearing the brunt.

 

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Death of Tuticorin protestors brings focus back on Vedanta’s environment violations

During this ten-year-period, The Wire said, it had also given political contributions to the Congress and BJP — donations that were held to be in violation of India’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by the Delhi high court.

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Tuticorin protestors

Chennai, May 25 (IANS) The death of 13 anti-Sterlite Copper protestors in the police firing in Tuticorin has worsened the situation, focussing the limelight on its parent company Vedanta’s environmental violations.

Vedanta has said that it has followed the law at its copper smelter plant on pollution, but environmentalists and other activists point to major unresolved issues at Tuticorin. They also point to several other instances of violations in the past where Vedanta was involved.

“The protest and the killing of 13 persons in the police firing will make it difficult for the Sterlite Copper’s smelter plant (owned by Vedanta Ltd) to function again,” Nityanand Jayaraman, writer and social activist told IANS adding that “the death of 13 persons would not go in vain.”

Others are seeking permanent closure of the plant. “We have seen closure and reopening of the plant earlier. Till a permanent closure is announced, protests against the smelter plant would continue,” S.Raja of the traders association youth wing in Tuticorin told IANS over phone.

Even Chief Minister K.Palaniswami has said that the government is against the functioning of the copper smelter plant. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has directed the plant not to commence production or operation without its consent. The power supply to the plant has been disconnected.

Activists and media reports say Vedanta has often overlooked the legal requirements in many cases. The Wire this week carried a story on how protests have dogged the company for several years. “From 2000 to 2010, the company’s alumina and bauxite mining operations in Lanjigarh district and the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha sparked widespread protests and cemented Vedanta’s reputation as an egregious polluter and offender of tribal and human rights,” the news portal said.

During this ten-year-period, The Wire said, it had also given political contributions to the Congress and BJP — donations that were held to be in violation of India’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by the Delhi high court.

The company’s environmental violations very quickly proved impossible to ignore and drew sharp censure not just from local activists but also international investors and institutions. In 2007, Norway’s state pension fund relinquished its holding in the company over what it described as “environmental and human rights violations”, the portal said, adding that three years later, prominent investors such as the Church of England the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust also sold their stakes for similar reasons.

Its green clearance was pulled away by India’s environment ministry in the same year for “violating forests laws in Orissa”, it said.

To improve its public image, Vedanta has spent huge amount of money in its corporate social responsibility project and its boss, Anil Agarwal, is a strong supporter of Narendra Modi and his government, often going out of its way to welcome projects launched by the government — including associating itself with the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign with a group company helping to build 30,000 toilets.

It’s campaign for a more benign outlook in media was also widely noted, and criticised. In 2016, the company’s sponsorship of the Jaipur Literature Festival’s edition in London sparked calls for a boycott campaign, according to The Wire. Over a hundred academics and writers launched a protest campaign and a “Boycott Vedanta JLF” London event, expressing “solidarity with the many communities suffering pollution, illness, oppression, displacement and poverty as a result of Vedanta’s operations”.

Back in Tuticorin, protestors say efforts are being made to suppress their voice totally. “The police firing seems to crush the anti-copper smelter plant protest as well as to act as a deterrent for other protests in Tamil Nadu,” Raja said.

On Tuesday, situation turned for the worse when a huge procession against the Sterlite’s copper smelter plant to mark the 100th day of protests were fired upon by police, after incidents of stone-throwing and torching of vehicles by the mob.

The police, who were said to have been outnumbered, resorted to firing resulting in the death of 11 persons. On Wednesday, in fresh firing one more person died and later one person succumbed to his injuries, bringing the death toll to 13.

When asked about the arson, Raja said: “It has to be probed. The people indulged in the arson could be anyone including those in favour of the smelter plant.”

Following the protests and police firing, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) rejected the renewal of consent (for 2018-2023) to operate the first unit of the Sterlite Copper smelter unit in Tuticorin, as it said the establishment had not fulfilled the conditions laid down by it.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court stayed the construction works of Vedanta’s second copper smelter plant.

The company had planned to double its copper smelting capacity to 800,000 tpa but has failed to adequate answer several allegations of harm to locals from the pollution creating by its existing plant.

The company’s plant has been mired in controversy for violation of pollution control norms and other issues, ever since the AIADMK government in early 1990s gave the permission for its construction, after several other Indian states denied the same on grounds of likely environmental damage.

In 2013, the Supreme Court had fined Sterlite Rs 100 crore for polluting the environment in Tuticorin.

According to social activist Jayaraman, the TNPCB and Tuticorin District Administration’s analysis of 15 ground water samples in March 2018 showed that all the water sources were polluted and violated the Bureau of Indian Standards norms for drinking water parameters.

Jayaraman said levels of the neurotoxin heavy metal lead were found to be at far higher levels than what is considered safe for drinking water.

He said soon after the 100-day protest began, groundwater samples were taken by the officials from seven locations within the copper smelter plant premises and eight from the villages near the plant.

Jayaraman said the report came to light following queries under the Right to Information Act.

The Tuticorin District Administration, instead of warning the villagers against using the ground water based on the findings, kept the report under wrap, he said.

He also said, a 2008 study done by Tirunelveli Government Medical College found higher levels of musculoskeletal disorders among villagers living near the copper smelter plant.

Tamil Manthan, an anti-Sterlite Copper activist told IANS that people claimed higher incidence of cancer amongst residents near the smelter plant. According to Raja, over 550 new cancer cases were reported by the government hospital in Tuticorin.

One of the placard held by the protestors read: ‘Cancer for us and Copper for you?’

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Four years of Modi: an era of all round disaster

Modi Govt has made it necessary for all those who cherish secular democracy, economic development and the parliamentary democratic set-up to unite urgently to resist the fascistic onslaught which may restrain the present regime from further damaging our country.

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Narendra Modi

The last four years of Modi government was a disaster in all spheres because we saw a Govt which only represented corporate capital and the worst right-wing ideology. Modi government has unabashedly pushed through its agenda of economic neo-liberalism, hastening the process of communal and caste polarisation for narrow electoral gains and missed no opportunity to diminish the established secular democratic norms. It went as far as trying to subvert the Constitution of India and its basic ethos which by any yardstick is unpardonable.

The corporate houses have been flagrantly favoured with various financial moves that benefited them to the extent of Rs 65 lakh crores and under the garb of promoting its flagship scheme ‘Make in India”, all sorts of concessions have been granted to foreign investors. The economy has been on a perennial declining mode since Modi became Prime Minister and almost every sector is in shambles because of his ill-conceived decisions in last 4 years.

Modi’s most disastrous move was demonetisation of the currency on 8th November 2016 when he abruptly decided to withdraw Rs 500 and 1000 notes which wiped off almost 87% of total currencies in circulation. This one decision cost heavily as it inflicted pain and misery to 133 crore people of this country which was unheard off.

People were made to stand for hours and hours in serpentine queues outside the bank ATMs to get a paltry 2000 rupees. The lucky ones who stood for hours got their money but there were as many as 167 unfortunate souls who were not so lucky, they perished because of a nonsensical decision by the head of a state who had a wild dream that in demonetisation he got a panacea for everything which is bad about the Indian economy. He proved wrong, terribly wrong. He was no Nobel laureate in economics and because of one bad decision, everyone suffered. In the next one year GDP lost a monumental 300,000 crore giving a hit of 5% to India’s GDP.

Banks continue to be on the verge of bankruptcy. More than 70 lakh jobs were lost at the altar of demonetisation in the Manufacturing, IT, Automobile and MSME sector. There was a virtual blood bath in the unorganised sector and those who were dependent on daily wages were destroyed by this tornado of note ban. This one decision will easily go into the annals of world economy as one of the most stupid and ill thought decisions by the head of a state.

Agriculture sector continues to be in the grip of worst ever crisis after independence. There isn’t a single day when we don’t hear the news about farmer’s suicide. As for common people, they are under lot of distress because of the high Prices of essential commodities and the skyrocketing fuel prices. Even essential services like education and public health have gone out of their reach.

The educational institutions are being blatantly saffronised and are targeted for the ideological reasons and syllabus is being distorted. There is a concerted attempt on re-writing the history from the anti-national and unconstitutional angle of RSS, the chief patron of Modi government. The RSS has usurped the reins of a regime and is busy running its own Hindutva agenda. Attacks are being allowed on minorities, Dalits and other weaker sections of the society in the name of protecting cows.

The Govt is unashamedly violating the constitution and democratic norms. The Governors in BJP ruled states are virtually acting like RSS cadres. It is busy destroying parliamentary democracy to promote its fascistic and authoritarian agenda. The Govt’s Kashmir policy has been disastrous as the crisis in the valley has gone from bad to worse in last three years.

In short, on the eve of its fourth anniversary of being in power, Modi Govt has made it necessary for all those who cherish secular democracy, economic development and the parliamentary democratic set-up to unite urgently to resist the fascistic onslaught which may restrain the present regime from further damaging our country.

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Karnataka shadow on Modi’s 4th anniversary

Considering that three more assembly elections are due in the next few months where the BJP is facing the anti-incumbency factor, it is obvious that Modi’s fourth anniversary is not the happiest of occasions.

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Narendra Modi

If Narendra Modi expected Karnataka to be the icing on the cake on the eve of the completion of his four years in office, he must be disappointed.

Yet, the setback in the southern state is only one of the several reverses which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has suffered in the recent past. These include a series of by-election defeats in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and UP, which have not been adequately compensated by the party’s successes in the northeast. That’s because electoral outcomes in the country’s heartland have a greater salience than those in a region generally regarded as remote.

Considering that three more assembly elections are due in the next few months where the BJP is facing the anti-incumbency factor, it is obvious that Modi’s fourth anniversary is not the happiest of occasions. Several things appear to have gone wrong for the Prime Minister and his party. Foremost among them is the general bleakness of the economic scene because of the paucity of jobs and the continuing agrarian distress.

But even more than the economic woes — which have led to the blanking out of the phrase ‘achhe din’ (good days) from the saffron lexicon — what may have hurt the government even more is an intimidating atmosphere generated by a political project of virtually remoulding Indian society by obliterating all the supposed ignominy which the country is said to have suffered during the 1,200 years of “slavery” under Muslim and British rule. Not surprisingly, the 60-odd years of Congress rule have been included in this period of “alien” governance.

Hence, the rewriting of history textbooks and the packing of autonomous academic institutions with people in tune with the ruling party’s thinking. These have been accompanied by the veneration of the cow and the targeting of “suspected” beef-eaters.

It is this imposition of the saffron writ which made former Vice President Hamid Ansari say that the Muslims were living in fear and led to protests by writers, historians, film makers and others within the first 12 months of Modi’s rule who returned the awards which they had once won.

Instead of analysing why so many distinguished people were expressing their disquiet, the government and the BJP chose to dismiss them as “manufactured protests”, in Arun Jaitley’s words, and the dissatisfaction of a section which has lost the privileges which it had enjoyed under the previous dispensation. Evidently, the BJP believed that it was on the right track — in fact, the protests may have reinforced this self-perception — and that there was no need for a rethink.

Little wonder that the government took no notice of the two open letters written to it by groups of retired civil servants and a third by more than 600 academics, including those in the US, Britain and Australia. While the bureaucrats expressed distress at the decline of “secular, democratic and liberal values”, the educationists regretted that not enough was being done for the vulnerable groups.

There is little doubt that the government has taken a number of initiatives to reach out to these groups. In a way, these “small” measures have mitigated to some extent the effects of the faltering on the macroeconomic front.

Among these measures is the Jan Dhan Yojana relating to small savings by ordinary people via a large number of bank accounts. However, although nearly all the households are now said to have access to banks, the number of people with inactive accounts is embarrassingly high.

It is the same with cooking gas connections, where consumption has not kept pact with the higher number of households with such facilities. There have been similar shortfalls on the cleanliness (Swachh Bharat) and electrification programmes as well.

According to official figures, 72.6 million household toilets have been built since 2014 and there are now 366,000 defecation-free villages. But the absence of independent verification of these claims has led to the World Bank withholding a $1.5 billion loan for these rural programmes.

Similarly, the official assertion about cent per cent electrification of the country has generally been taken with a pinch of salt since government data shows that there are still 31 million households without power and that the percentage reaches 60 in UP, Jharkhand and Assam.

It is on the highways’ front that visible progress has been made with the raising of the construction target to 45 km per day from 27 km. The employment potential of such infrastructure projects is also high. Since 100 per cent foreign investment is allowed in this sector, an estimated $82 billion is expected for it in the next four years.

But all these initiatives should really have been an add-on to an atmosphere of economic buoyancy which is absent. This has been noted by a pro-Modi economist, who has said that the people are yet to see their lives improve materially. Unless this perception changes with, say, an implementation of the Modicare programme of medical insurance in the next few months, the government will not be able to look forward to next year’s general election with high hopes.

By : Amulya Ganguli

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

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