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Every Indian stands with people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh: PM

For those who are opposing the decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, he believes they should answer one basic question: What is their defence for Articles 370 and 35(A) remaining?

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Modi On IANS PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) One of the biggest decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the first 75 days of his government is undoubtedly the unshackling of Jammu and Kashmir so that there is better integration and mobility and the faux concept of dual citizenship is scrapped once and for all. In what was not just a political but a diplomatic masterstroke as well, the PM, who has been obsessed with resolving the Kashmir imbroglio, hit his straps very early on in his second avatar using the heft of his mandate to prise through the contentious issue.

IANS began by asking him about his decision on Article 370 which has been welcomed by many and also been opposed by a few. A fusillade of posers followed. There seems to be an uneasy calm at the moment. Why do you think the people of J&K will stand with you?

Unflinchingly, as his wont and style, PM Modi responded unequivocally, “Please see the list of people who have opposed the decisions about Kashmir – the usual vested interest groups, political dynasties, those who sympathise with terror and some friends in the Opposition. The people of India, irrespective of what their political preference, have supported the steps taken in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This is about the nation, not politics. The people of India are seeing that tough but essential decisions that were earlier assumed to be impossible are becoming a reality.”

As the dragnet eases, life will limp back to normal in the Valley, the PM has a clear view on the issue, he reckons that these provisions actually harmed India, for a handful of families and a separatist cabal capitalised on this. PM Modi said, “It is now clear to everyone how Articles 370 and 35(A) fully isolated Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The status quo of seven long decades clearly could not fulfil people’s aspirations. Citizens were kept away from the fruits of development. The greatest casualty was the lack of any proper economic avenues to increase earnings. Our approach is different — instead of the vicious cycle of poverty, the people need more economic opportunities. For years, intimidation ruled the roost. Let us now give development a chance.”

He followed up by making a fervent plea to his brethren in Kashmir. “My sisters and brothers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh always wanted a better future for them, but Article 370 did not enable it. There was injustice against women and children, ST as well as SC communities. And, most importantly, the innovative zeal of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was not harnessed. Now, from BPOs to startups, from food processing to tourism, many industries can avail of investment and create opportunities for the local youth. Education and skill development will also bloom.

“I want to clearly assure my sisters and brothers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh that these regions will develop as per the wishes of local people, their dreams and ambitions. The growth of these regions will first and foremost be powered by those belonging to these regions. Articles 370 and 35(A) were like chains that kept people tied. These chains are now broken, people have been unshackled from such dominance and they will now shape their own destiny.”

For those who are opposing the decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, he believes they should answer one basic question: What is their defence for Articles 370 and 35(A) remaining?

He argued, “They would have no answer to this question. And, these are the same people who are used to protesting when it comes to anything that helps common people. There is a project to provide water to people, they will oppose it. There is a railway track being built, they will oppose that. Their heart only beats for Maoists and terrorists who have only bullied common citizens. Today, every Indian is fully standing with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and I am confident they will stand with us in the aim to boost development and bring peace. “

IANS also asked him about the concerns over democracy. Will the voice of the people of Kashmir be heard?

He said: “Kashmir has never witnessed such a strong commitment in favour of democracy. Remember the turnout during the Panchayat elections? The people voted in large numbers and did not get cowed by bullying. In November and December of 2018, there were 35,000 Sarpanches elected and the turnout in the Panchayat elections was a record 74%. There was no violence during the Panchayat elections. Not a drop of blood was shed in poll violence. This, when the main parties there were lukewarm to this entire exercise. It is very satisfying that now Panchayats are back at the forefront of furthering development and human empowerment. Imagine, for so many years those in power did not find it prudent to work towards strengthening Panchayats. And remember, they gave great sermons on democracy, but the words never led to action.”

It is obvious that when the PM obsessed on resolving what appeared to be intractable, he studied the matter extensively. He said: “It surprised and saddened me that 73rd Amendment did not apply to Jammu and Kashmir. How could such injustice be tolerated? It was in the last few years that Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir got more powers to work towards people’s progress and various subjects transferred to Panchayats under the 73rd amendment were transferred to Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Now, I have requested the Honourable Governor to work towards organising Block Panchayat elections too. Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration did the ‘Back to Village’ programme, where the entire government machinery went to the people instead of vice versa. They went just to mitigate people’s problems. The common citizens appreciated the programme. The results of these efforts are for all to see. Swachh Bharat, rural electrification and other such initiatives are reaching the grassroots. This is what democracy truly is.”

Correcting mistakes and imbalances was at the kernel of the PM’s intent on J&K. The PM said: “In any case, I have assured people that elections in Jammu, Kashmir will continue and it is the people of these regions only who will represent the larger public. Yes, those who ruled Kashmir thinking it is their divine right to do so will dislike democratisation and peddle incorrect narratives. They do not want a self-made, younger leadership to emerge. These are the same people whose own conduct in the 1987 elections has been suspect. Article 370 has helped the local political class avoid transparency and accountability. Its removal will only empower democracy even more.”

Politics

Priyanka asks BJP leaders to clarify stand on Kuldeep Sengar

“The CBI gave its report. The Supreme Court bashed them, but Kuldeep Singh Sengar still enjoys a place in the hearts of BJP leaders. His photographs are being used with senior BJP leaders. Will they say something?”

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Priyanka Gandhi

New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday asked BJP leaders to clarify their stand on rape accused legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, after his photographs appeared in an Independence Day advertisement in a Hindi newspaper, along with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Home Minister Amit Shah.

“The CBI gave its report. The Supreme Court bashed them, but Kuldeep Singh Sengar still enjoys a place in the hearts of BJP leaders. His photographs are being used with senior BJP leaders. Will they say something?” wrote Priyanka Gandhi on Twitter attaching a copy of the advertisement in the post.

The advertisement wishing people on the occasion of Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan was published by Anuj Kumar Dikshit, the local BJP chief and chairman of Ugu Panchayat in Unnao. It also carried a photograph of Sengar’s wife and zila panchayat chairperson, Sangeeta Sengar.

Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh had on July 30 said that his party had suspended Sengar after an FIR was lodged against the lawmaker in connection with an accident that claimed two lives and injured two others, including the Unnao rape survivor.

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Politics

Rebuild Ravidas temple at original site: CPI-M

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the temple and four ‘samadhis’ on August 10 alleging they were located in a “forest area” in Tughlaqabad Extension here.

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Ravidas Temple Demolition

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) The CPI-M on Friday urged the central government to rebuild the Guru Ravidas temple at the very site in the national capital where it was demolished.

CPI-M leader Brinda Karat made the appeal in a letter to Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri, demanding that the temple should be constructed at the same spot and the ‘samadhis’ restored in their original place.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the temple and four ‘samadhis’ on August 10 alleging they were located in a “forest area” in Tughlaqabad Extension here.

Accusing the government of double standards, Karat said that on the one hand it spoke in the court in defence of the “faith of people” on Ayodhya but did not hesitate to bring down a Ravidas temple although it had stood at the spot for decades.

She said while demolishing the temple, the DDA — which reports to Puri — had permitted the building of a clubhouse in the same area. “Is this not double standards?”

The CPI-M leader pointed out that the Delhi High Court had suggested that the temple be relocated 400 yards away while keeping the samadhis intact. “However the DDA by its actions of demolition of the samadhis and the temple has changed the situation.

“I, therefore, request you to ensure that the temple is rebuilt and the samadhis are restored in their original place.”

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Politics

Maharashtra Congress leaders meet Sonia Gandhi

The leaders included Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat, Working Presidents Nitin Raut, Baswaraj M. Patil, Yashomati Chandrakant Thakur and Muzaffer Hussain.

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UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandh

New Delhi, Aug 16 : Senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra on Friday met the party interim chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence here.

The leaders included Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat, Working Presidents Nitin Raut, Baswaraj M. Patil, Yashomati Chandrakant Thakur and Muzaffer Hussain.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal was also present during the meeting.

After meeting Gandhi, Raut told IANS: “It was a courtesy meeting with Soniaji. We had not met since she was appointed the interim President.”

Asked if there were any talks regarding the Maharashtra assembly elections, Raut said, “We did not discuss elections with her as it was our first meeting with her since the time she was appointed the interim chief.”

Sonia Gandhi was elected the interim party chief on August 10 during the Congress Working Committee meeting.

She was made the party chief after Rahul Gandhi stepped down from the top post taking moral responsibility of Congress’s loss in Lok Sabha elections.

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