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Using human shield is not Indian Army norm: General Bipin Rawat

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New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Undeterred by criticism from politicians and commentators, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat says the use of human shield by the India Army is not a norm but individual officers are entitled to decide the tactic depending on circumstances.

He also dismisses criticism that the Army is trigger-happy but says the level of violence in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be brought down for any meaningful dialogue with stakeholders. “Dialogue and violence cannot go together,” General Rawat told IANS in an interaction here at his office.

The Army Chief maintains that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not as bad as it is portrayed in the media and dismisses a perception that people of the state are against the Army.

“It (human shield) is not a general norm. As a practice it is not supported. But situations would dictate. Under the circumstances he (Major Leetul Gogoi) took a decision independently. He can’t look back at that stage and wait for orders. I think in his own wisdom he took the action,” General Rawat said.

“If somebody has any other ideas as to how to tackle such a situation, then he can pass it on to us. We will take a look at it,” he said.

Read More: Shocking video of youth tied to army jeep triggers anger in Kashmir

General Rawat was asked to comment on a string of criticisms about his earlier remarks defending Major Gogoi’s action of tying a civilian to the bonnet of an Army jeep when facing a crowd of stone pelters in the valley.

He was then criticised for justifying the Major’s action that was described as unprofessional and damaging to the reputation of the Indian Army and being violative of the Geneva Convention that lays down rules of warfare.

Replying to a question on the comments by CPI-M leader Prakash Karat over his reported remarks that stone pelters should rather use guns as amounting to instigating them to take to guns, General Rawat maintained that he was misquoted on the issue.

“In a proxy war situation like this the enemy cannot be identified. He is not wearing a band or a uniform that can identify him as a terrorist. Only when he fires then you know what to do in such a situation. The Army cannot throw stones, that is not my pattern. I can’t throw stones.”

Asked about the absence of any dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir and whether there can be a military solution that can be lasting, General Rawat said it should be an “integrated” solution.

“Military has to bring the violence level down. We have to bring peace for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. After all, it is the poor people like daily wagers, pony walas, shikaras, and others who depend on tourism like hotels. Students are also affected as schools and colleges are shut.

“They have already seen one bad (tourism) season, another bad year will affect them worse. Why are we doing, what we are doing? We are doing it to bring peace in the valley,” he said.

He rejected reports of local people in the Kashmir valley being “angry” with the Army, saying it is not as bad as projected in the media. At the same time he asserted that there was nothing wrong with the killing of militants like Burhan Wani.

“I don’t think there is that kind of resentment. Of course people are angry about issues like unemployment. That is an issue even in the rest of the country, but for that you do not take to guns. Look at the way the youth are coming to join Army in large numbers,” he said.

The General said Kashmir with its rich resources could be a leader in so many fields, but economic development was not taking place because of violence.

“Violence had come down after 2011-12. What have the Army or security forces done (to evoke anger)? Army cannot be faulted for the killing of Burhan Wani. Something is happening behind the scene, someone is instigating people,” he said.

Read More: Indian Army honours Major Gogoi who tied Kashmiri to military jeep

Asked about absence of dialogue at present in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the violence level has to come down.

“You say I am not going to indulge in violence, then we will talk. If people want to have a dialogue, then dialogue and violence cannot go together. You can’t say Army and civilians will be involved in a gun battle and say let’s have talks. A semblance of peace and tranquility is essential, then we can talk.”

Asked about the criticism that the Army Chief’s view was reflecting the government’s views, General Rawat said in a democracy the Army has to work under a democratically elected government.

“We take directions from the government… Are we supposed to work away from the government? Directions are always given by the government,” he said.

He said the government gave the Army a free hand in executing its directions. Similarly the Army gave freedom to units to execute its directions.

(By Anjali Ojha and V.S. Chandrasekar)

IANS

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Arvind Kejriwal ends protest

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AAP Protest

New Delhi, June 19: Soon after Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday asked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to urgently meet the officers in the Secretariat, CM called off his sit-in protest at Raj Niwas. 

Kejriwal along with his cabinet colleagues Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain and Gopal Rai started the sit-in on June 11 to press for their demands in the Raj Niwas to press demands which includes,  a direction to IAS officers working in the Delhi administration to end their “strike” and action against officers who have struck work for “four months” and a nod to his government’s proposal for doorstep delivery of ration.

“Delhi LG wrote to CM Arvind Kejriwal & requested CM to urgently meet the officers in the Secretariat so that apprehensions and concerns of both sides can be suitably addressed through dialogue in the best interest of the people of Delhi, ANI reported citing Raj Niwas press release.

Kejriwal had also sought Centre’s intervention to approve the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s proposal to deliver ration to the poor at their houses, as there had been no communication from LG Anil Baijal’s office.

Thousands of Aam Aadmi Party supporters were joined by flag-waving CPM cadres in the national capital on Sunday marched to the Prime Minister’s Office against the alleged high-handedness of the central government and direct interference in Delhi administration.

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Muscular policy won’t work in Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti

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Srinagar, June 19 : After submitting her resignation to Governor NN Vohra, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said that PDP joined hands with BJP in Jammu and Kashmir to work on the reconciliation process as muscular policy won’t succeed in the state.

Mehbooba said, “The basic aim of Agenda of Alliance was reconciliation,We can’t treat Jammu and Kashmir as enemy territory, ‘muscular policy’ won’t succeed here.”

Mufti said, “The basic tenets of the alliance were confidence-building measures…We have taken many measures to improve the situation in the state. Got Centre to announce unilateral ceasefire.”

Mufti asserted , “We did not form this alliance for power.I submitted my resignation (as J&K CM) to the Governor and told him that we are not looking to explore any other alliance.”

Listing out the efforts made by PDP to bring normalcy in the state, Mufti said, “We tried to keep Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh united. PDP activists had to face a lot of troubles but they firmly stood by us. This alliance had a bigger motive- unilateral ceasefire, PM’s visit to Pakistan, withdrawal of cases against 11,000 youth.”

After the BJP pulled out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, a surprised Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday submitted her resignation to Governor N.N. Vohra.

Immediately after she learnt about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision, Mehbooba Mufti rushed to Raj Bhawan.

Later she called an emergency meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a surprise development, after summoning all its Ministers in the state government to New Delhi, the BJP announced that it had decided to exit from the PDP-BJP coalition.

More than three years after they formed an uneasy coalition, the BJP on Tuesday pulled out of the PDP-led Jammu and Kashmir government, citing growing terror activities and radicalization in the valley making its continuance “untenable”.

Announcing the party’s sudden decision at a hurriedly-called press conference, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav said that Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and nine other ministers from the party have tendered their resignation to Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The state leaders were called to the national capital for urgent consultations.

The move came less than a year ahead of the 2019 general elections and a couple of months after the BJP had replaced its Deputy Chief Minister in the wake of outrage over Kathua rape incident.

It also came two days after the Centre decided not to continue with the ceasefire.

“After reviewing the work of the government in the last three years and after consultations with the Home Ministry and the agencies and after consultations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, we have come to the conclusion that it is difficult for the coalition to move forward in Jammu and Kashmir.

“It has become untenable for the BJP to continue the alliance in Jammu and Kashmir in the situation that has developed today. Terrorism and violence have increased in the valley and radicalization is fast spreading. Fundamental rights of citizens and right to free speech of people have come under threat in the valley as symbolized by the murder of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari in broad daylight in Srinagar,” Madhav said.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP formed a coalition more than two months after the December 2014 elections returned a hung verdict, in which the PDP got 28 seats and the BJP 25, while the National Conference with 15 and Congress managed to win 12 in a House of 89. The government came to power on March 1, 2015.

The BJP leader said that the coalition was formed with an intention of restoring peace in Kashmir and encouraging fast development in all the three regions of the state including Jammu and Ladakh.

“The BJP did its best to give a good government. The Centre had also given a package of Rs 80,000 crore. The Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) had made several visit to the state and the central government had also appointed a interlocutor in a sincere attempt to resolve issues in Kashmir. On the border also, we took steps to contain violence by erecting 4,000 bunkers. Whatever the state government wanted we were ready to give,” he said.

But, Madhav said, they were sad that the government failed to discharge its responsibilities and the feeling of discrimination towards Jammu and Ladakh regions continued.

“After three years, today we have come to the conclusion that in the interest of the entire nation of which Jammu and Kashmir is inalienable part and in the interest of integrity and sovereignty of the country, keeping in mind the larger interest of the security, in order to bring situation under control, we have decided that is it time the reins of power be handed to the Governor for a spell of Governor’s rule. After the situation is restored, we will consider what to do in the future and take the political process forward,” he said.

He said the ceasefire was announced by the Centre with the intention of bringing peace to the state and to give relief to the people of Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan. “It was our hope that we will get a good response from terrorists and separatist forces like Hurriyat. We were under no compulsion. It was a goodwill gesture and we did it from a position of strength,” he said.

In any case after the killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, there was no question of extension of ceasefire. If terrorists can enter into the city and kill Bukhari in broad daylight in a high security area, there was no question of continuance of ceasefire, the BJP leader said.

Madhav also said that over 600 terrorists have been neutralized in the last three years to stop radicalization. “Our campaign against terrorist will continue and there is no doubt about it. That is why we are going out.”

Replying to questions, he said apart from the reasons given, there were no other reasons for the decision to pull out of the government. “We are not concerned about losing ground in the state.”

He said the coalition was formed to respect the mandate of the elections and two parties came together and tried to give governance.

He said that state has faced such situation in the past when there was rising violence and periods of it being controlled. “All we are saying now is we have come to the conclusion that in present scenario and in the present juncture, we find our continuance untenable.”

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BJP breaks alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir

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New Delhi, June 19: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday broke an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir.

The decision was taken following a high- level meeting of BJP leaders with party Chief Amit Shah.

Addressing a press conference in the national capital, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav made the announcement. He said ” In the last fours, we discussed how many of the objectives which we had planned earlier were achieved,”

“After a lot of discussions, the prime minister and Amit Shah and other BJP leaders decided that it has become untenable for the BJP to continue in the alliance in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Citing the recent killing of Kashmiri Journalist Shujaat Bukhari, the BJP leader stated: “Terrorism, violence and radicalisation have risen and fundamental rights of the citizens are under danger in the Valley”.

“Keeping in mind larger interest of India’s security and integrity, the fact is that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, in a bid to bring control over the situation prevailing in the state we have decided that the reigns of power in the state be handed over to the Governor”, Madhav told media.

“We had to respect the mandate of the people. If we would not have formed govt at that time, Governor’s rule or Presidential rule would have been imposed in the Valley. We had an alliance with them just for the mandate that was given by people”.

Soon after the BJP pulled out of the state government, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti submitted her resignation to the governor.

The differences between the BJP and the PDP reportedly erupted after the governments’ decision to resume anti-terror operations in the state, which were suspended during Ramzan.

The current composition of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, which has 89 states : PDP- 28, BJP- 25, NC-15, INC-12, J&K people’s conference-2, CPI-1, others-4.

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