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‘Hindutva a way of life judgement’ made political discourse lopsided: Manmohan

Singh was delivering the 2nd memorial lecture of the late Communist leader A.B. Bardhan on “Defence of Secularism and Constitution”.

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Manmohan singh

New Delhi, Sep 25 : Faulting the “famous but controversial” ‘Hindutva is a way of life’ judgement of late Justice J.S. Verma of the Supreme Court in the 1990s, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the judiciary as an institution should never lose sight of its primary duty to protect the secular spirit of the Constitution.

This task, he said, has become much more demanding than before because the political disputes and electoral battles were increasingly getting overlaced with religious overtones, symbols, myths and prejudices.

Singh was delivering the 2nd memorial lecture of the late Communist leader A.B. Bardhan on “Defence of Secularism and Constitution”.

The former Prime Minister criticised Verma’s judgment suggesting it virtually disturbed “a kind of constitutional sanity” that was restored in the country’s political discourse through the Bommai judgment in which a nine-judge bench of Supreme Court found an opportunity to reaffirm that secularism was a basic structure of the Constitution.

He said Justice Verma’s verdict had a “decisive impact” on the ongoing debate among political parties about the principles and practices of secularism in the Republic.

“The judgment ended up making our political discourse somewhat lopsided; and, many believe that ‘there can be no doubt that the decision requires to be overruled’,” Singh said.

He said no constitutional arrangement can be protected and preserved only by the judiciary, however, vigilant or enlightened the judges may be.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the political leadership, civil society, religious leaders and intelligentsia to defend the Constitution and its secular commitments. It is necessary to remind ourselves that the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom had conceived this secular order as part of a larger, greater egalitarian polity.”

Describing the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a traumatic event bringing into disrepute India’s secular commitments, Singh said the entire political leadership too came in for criticism for failing to protect a place of worship.

“In particular, concerned citizens were deeply disappointed at the judiciary’s stance in the events leading upto the demolition,” he said.

The former Prime Minister said the country should unambiguously clear that any attempt to weaken the secular fabric of the Republic would be an attempt to dismantle the larger egalitarian project — a secular, progressive democratic polity.

The judiciary needs to arrive at its own enlightened view of its custodianship of the Constitution irrespective of the irresponsible and selfish politicians who have no qualms in injecting communal virus in the body politic, he said.

The same expectation must also be voiced in regard to the armed forces which are a splendid embodiment of the secular project.

“Our armed forces have a glorious record of keeping away from the politicians’ manipulations and intrigues. It is vitally important that the armed forces remain uncontaminated from any sectarian appeal.”

Stressing on the role of Election Commission in preserving the secular fabric, Singh said it was incumbent upon the poll panel to see that the religion and religious sentiments and prejudices do not get overworked into the election discourse.

He said the media as a democratic institution was an equal partner in upholding secularism both in letter and spirit.

CPI General Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy said the very idea of a secular and pluralist India tolerant of all sex and religion was under severe threat under the Modi government.

He said there has been serious attacks targeted at turning the secular India into a Hindu Rashtra, tearing off the statutes of the Constitution that oppose the moves or changing the Constitution itself.

India

NIA raids at multiple locations in Kashmir in Davinder Singh case

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DSP Davinder Singh

Srinagar/New Delhi, Sep 22 : Tightening its noose in the case of suspended J&K Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Davinder Singh and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Naveed Babu, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday carried out searches at several locations in Jammu & Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

An NIA official privy to the development told IANS, “NIA is conducting raids in different parts of Baramulla in Hizb commander Naveed Babu-Davinder Singh DSP case.” He said that multiple teams of the NIA conducted searches at multiple locations in Baramulla-Uri and one location in Srinagar in connection with Naveed Babu and cross-border trade case.

The spokesperson said that in Hizbul Mujahideen case, houses of Azad Ahmad Pir in Uri and Hallema Begum in Baramulla, Shaheen Lone also a resident of Baramulla and working as an inspector in Power Development Department, along with Lone’s father-in-law’s house at Waza Mohalla, Palhalan in Baramulla, Tariq Mir’s wife Shareen Bibi and Tafazul Parimoo a resident of Budgam, were also searched by the NIA.

They are close associates of accused Tariq Mir, who was arrested by NIA on April 29 this year for his role in smuggling and supply of weapons to Hizb terrorists. During the searches several incriminating documents and digital devices have been seized from their residences. The NIA has named Naveed Mushtaq alias Naveed Babu, Irfan Shafi Mir, Rafi Rather, Tanveer Ahmad Wani, and Syed Irfan in its chargesheet, besides Davinder Singh.

The suspended police officer is lodged in Kathua jail at Hiranagar in the Jammu division. He was arrested by the police on January 11 on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway while transporting two Hizb terrorists — Naveed Babu and Rafi Ahmad Rather — and a law school dropout Irfan Shafi Mir to Jammu.

Naveed’s brother Irfan was arrested on January 23 for his ‘role’ in the conspiracy while Wani came under the scanner for allegedly giving money to Naveed, a former Special Police Officer of J&K who had joined the terrorist ranks. After the arrest of Singh, initial investigations were done by the J&K Police before the case was handed over to the NIA. Police had said that the two terrorists and the lawyer had planned to travel to Pakistan.

The NIA had earlier claimed that its probe revealed that the accused were part of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by the Hizb and Pakistan to commit violent acts and to wage war against India. “The investigation has revealed that Pakistan-based leadership of the Hizb, namely Syed Salahuddin, Amir Khan, Khursheed Alam, Nazar Mehmood, and others, along with the Pakistani establishment is extending support to the cadres and commanders of the terror outfit based in Jammu & Kashmir.”

“The probe also revealed that accused Irfan Shafi Mir alias ‘Advocate’ not only met Hizb leadership in Pakistan but also met Umar Cheema, Ahshan Chaudhary, Sohail Abbas, and others of the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan. He was tasked to identify and activate the new ‘hawala’ channels for the transfer of money to sustain terror activities in the Kashmir Valley,” a NIA spokesperson had earlier said.

The NIA had also claimed that its investigation revealed that certain officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were in constant touch with Mir alias Advocate, who was provided with funds to organise seminars in J&K to mobilise the masses against the government of India. Mir allegedly used to receive instructions and money from the Pakistan High Commission, and he facilitated the visa applications of a number of Kashmiris for their Pakistan visits.

Even Davinder Singh was said to be in touch with certain Pakistan High Commission officials through secure social media platforms. Investigation revealed that he was “being groomed by the Pakistani officials for obtaining sensitive information”. Singh was posted with the anti-hijacking wing of the Jammu & Kashmir Police in Srinagar, and was part of the security staff that had received a group of foreign diplomats who visited Kashmir.

On June 19, a Delhi court had granted bail to Davinder Singh in a terror case after the Delhi Police failed to file a chargesheet against him and co-accused within the stipulated time. The NIA spokesperson further said that in the illegalities in the LoC trade case, the agency carried out raids at the premises of Peer Arshid Iqbal alias Ashu in Baramulla, who is currently lodged in Kathua jail in Jammu in a narcotics case, Tariq Ahmad Sheikh also a resident of Baramulla and proprietor of Sheikh Brothers and Hamid Brothers, Baramulla, also currently lodged in Baramulla jail in a narcotics case, Bashir Ahmad Sofi, a district level Hurriyat Leader and Abdul Hamid Lone, a resident of Sopore and his Asha Traders.

During searches at their premises, the NIA team recovered several incriminating documents and digital devices.

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University of Hyderabad VC’s tenure extended by a year

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Professor Appa Rao Podile

Hyderabad, Sep 22 : The Union Ministry of Education has extended the tenure of Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad, Professor Appa Rao Podile for one year.

The ministry on Tuesday conveyed to the University Registrar that the President of India in his capacity as Visitor of University of Hyderabad has extended the tenure of Appa Rao for a further period of one year or till the time the new Vice-Chancellor is appointed, whichever is earlier.

Appa Rao was appointed the Vice Chancellor in 2015 and his term was to end on September 22.

A few months after his appointment, the central university was rocked by the massive protests over the death of a Dalit PhD scholar.

Rohith Vemula died by suicide on January 24, 2016 after he and four other students were suspended following a clash with some members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The incident had triggered protests in campuses across the country.

On a complaint by a section of students, police had booked a case against then union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Appa Rao and three others in connection with Vemula’s suicide.

Amid growing demands for his resignation, Appa Rao had gone on leave.

He resumed office on March 23 but massive protests broke out in the campus with protestors ransacking his official residence

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As army prepares for long winter at LAC, DRDO works on developing vegetables under intense weather

DIHAR’s Director, Dr Om Prakash Chaurasia said that the focus is now on to augment the availability of fresh vegetables in winters like summers.

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India China Ladakh Border

New Delhi: As the troops are set to spend harsh winters at the China border, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working on cultivating vegetables in the tough conditions here, for the Indian Army, with the technologies like passive greenhouse technology, zero energy-based technique storage, and microgreens.

The research for the same is being done by DRDO’s Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR).

While speaking to ANI, DIHAR’s Director, Dr Om Prakash Chaurasia said that the focus is now on to augment the availability of fresh vegetables in winters like summers.

“With DRDO technology and hill council, all vegetables can be grown in summer but now our focus is on winters that how to augment the availability of fresh items in winters. There are two approaches, one is to standardise the greenhouse technology. This (Leh) place has high intercity of solar even during peak winter period so we are working on a passive greenhouse. We will be able to grow cabbage, cauliflower, and even tomato even in the month of January where the temperature drops till -25 degrees. We have an underground greenhouse as well. Another approach is to develop the storage of vegetables grown in summers. It is zero energy-based storage technology. Potato, cabbage, cauliflower, Raddish, carrot can be stored for 4-5 months,” said Chaurasia.

Chaurasia also highlighted that DISAR is also cultivating superfoods like Quinoa, chia seed, seabuckthorn, and Goji Berries which are exclusively grown in Leh.

“Oxygen level is low and under stress condition in this area. So, we require foods which are enriched with nutrition. We are cultivating a superfood which is a food which you consume less and it is more effective. We are cultivating foods like Quinoa, chia seed, seabuckthorn, and Goji Berries,” he added.

In August last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned a special plant named ‘solo’ which is also known as the Sanjeevani herb that is found in Ladakh.

Describing the utilities of solo herb which is known as Sanjeevani, Dr Chaurasia said, “Himalaya is a treasure of herbs. Sanjeevani is one of the herbs found in the Himalayas. Its scientific name is Rhodiola. It cures fatigue, mountain sickness, and works on memory boosting. The roots of Sanjeevani have the fragrance of a rose. DRDO is working with UT administration for mass cultivation of it.”

DIHAR has worked on the microgreen plant which will help jawans grow plants in harsh conditions and can be grown in 10-15 days. The product can be used as a seasoning for farmers.

Talking about microgreens, Dr Dorjee, a scientist in DIHAR said, “In the far area, Army is deployed in harsh conditions and there is no availability of substrate or soil to grow vegetables. Through technology, we will be able to provide these microgreen plants to army jawan when he is having lunch or breakfast in those areas.”

“To grow these plants, we have to ensure that ingredients need to remain minimum like cocopeat, and after 10-15 days, these plants are ready for consumption. It can be used for seasoning too,” he added.

Dorjee further said that around 20 vegetables can be grown in this medium and it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

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