Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Cases of ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala

Love JihadThe Supreme Court on Monday directed that the 24-year-old woman Akhila alias Hadiya, a homoeopath, who converted to Islam after marrying her Muslim boyfriend Shafin Jehan, be brought before the court on November 27. The woman is presently in custody of her Hindu parents. After the Kerala High Court annulled their marriage saying this was a case of ‘love jihad’, the husband approached the apex court for relief. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the National Investigation Agency to probe cases of ‘love jihad’ in Kerala. The NIA in its report said, of the 89 suspected cases of love jihad furnished by Kerala Police, it probed nine and found startling similarities in the matter of conversion of Hindu girls into Islam. The NIA said there was a well-oiled machinery at work involving outfits like Popular Front of India and Sathyasarani, which were playing a big role in converting and radicalizing young girls.

If one goes by the NIA, the matter has serious ramifications. Radicalizing young girls and sending them to work for Islamic State in the Middle East amounts to sedition, but it appears the NIA’s counsel failed to convince the apex court. The Supreme Court said every adult woman had the right to decide whom she would like to marry and which religion to follow. The bench also remarked that there was no curb on a woman marrying a criminal. In the past there had been similar cases. Convict Abu Salem married a woman while in jail, and nobody stopped him. But in the case of Akhila alias Hadiya, the issue is slightly different. The apex court had directed NIA to probe cases of ‘love jihad’, and it is necessary that the NIA finishes its probe into all these 89 cases, and convince the apex court about the radicalization issue.

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Congress Tying Itself Up in Knots Over Gujarat Reservation

Aaj Ki Baat 28th Oct EpisodeIn an interview to India TV reporter on Friday, Gujarat OBC leader Alpesh Thakore has ruled out reservation for Patidars from OBC quota. The Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel is presently busy extracting a promise of reservation from Congress, the party which Alpesh Thakore had joined last week. If one looks carefully at the statements of both Alpesh Thakore and Hardik Patel, it is clear that the Congress is stepping into a mire. Saying that the party would give reservation to Patidars is not sufficient. The party has to make it clear how it will implement it. On Friday, Bombay High Court stayed the Maharashtra government’s decision to provide reservation to Marathas. The same was the case with the reservation for Jats in Rajasthan. Haryana assembly had to pass a bill to give reservation to Jats. The same occurred in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, but none of the decisions stood the test in courts. It should be made amply clear that any reservation for Patidars in Gujarat can be implemented only through a Constitutional amendment. The Congress is not in power at the Centre. Hence its promise will automatically vanish into thin air. With election schedule announced in Gujarat, the Congress must clearly state in what manner it would implement reservation for Patidars. To me, it seems the Congress is tying itself up in knots while allying with Alpesh, Jignesh and Hardik.

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Yogi Has Effectively Rebuffed Critics on Taj Mahal Issue

Yogi TajMahalUttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday visited the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, launched a cleanliness campaign outside the complex, and announced new projects. By doing this, Yogi has effectively replied to those who were trying to create a wrong impression that the chief minister was favouring those radicals who were opposing the very existence of Taj Mahal. Yogi told a gathering that Taj Mahal was built with the blood and sweat of labourers and he was looking forward to a rise in the number of tourists visiting Taj from the current 40-50,000 to 2-3 lakhs a day. He promised to provide more facilities for visitors and enhance the beauty of the entire complex. Naturally, more tourists mean more income for small traders, vendors and other service providers. It also provides more employment to the local populace. Most of the people rightly feel that the unnecessary controversy over the origin of Taj Mahal should now be put at rest. I hope, politicians like Vinay Katiyar, Sangeet Som and Asaduddin Owaisi must have got the right message from Yogi’s visit.
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Gujarat is heading for a tough contest

Aaj Ki Baat_Rajat SharmaWith the Election Commission announcing the election schedule for Gujarat, the stage is now set for an engrossing showdown between the ruling BJP and the main opposition party Congress. The hopes of Congress leaders rest on two factors: one, Narendra Modi is no more the chief minister of Gujarat, and leaders like Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupani are not as strong and popular in countering the anti-incumbency factor, and two: the Congress, which finds itself weaker, is now relying on anti-BJP outfits like those of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mewani. Talks are on with NCP too. The Congress gameplan is to unite all anti-BJP forces on a single platform to give a tough fight to the ruling party. On the other hand, BJP is relying on its vast organisational network and the charisma of Narendra Modi. It is also counting on the strength of 12 ex-Congress MLAs who recently joined the party. BJP had never registered a win from these 12 seats in the past.

Though Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani may claim that the contest is one-sided, I personally feel that BJP’s position in Gujarat is not as strong as it used to be during Modi’s rule. When Modi was ruling Gujarat, BJP seemed to be the only major party in the state, and one big reason for this was the personal charisma of Modi. The majority of the people of Gujarat trusted Modi, and the latter knows this too. That is why Prime Minister Modi has visited Gujarat five times in the last one month. He knows that the people of Gujarat will vote for BJP only because of him. Also, it will be wrong to assume that Congress is nowhere in the picture and that the agitating Patidars are now back in the BJP camp.

While BJP is going to seek votes in the name of development, it is also facing 22 years of anti-incumbency. For the first time in 22 years, BJP is going to fight without Modi as its chief ministerial candidate. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and wait till December 18.

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An Unprecedented Fillip to Indian economy 

Aaj ki Baat 24 OctOn Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a massive plan to spend nearly Rs 14 lakh crore on infrastructure and banking in the next two years. He made this announcement after the Union Cabinet cleared the Rs 7 lakh crore Bharat Mala highway project aimed at building 83,877 kilometre highways. The package also included a massive infusion of Rs 2.11 lakh crore into public sector banks in order to provide them share capital for lending and reviving investment, needed for job creation in the economy.

It is true that, on the ground level, small and medium traders and entrepreneurs have, of late, been facing difficulties, first, due to demonetization, and second, due to the GST scheme. These two factors have adversely affected business and industry. The Opposition, on cue, raised the issue of unemployment. Tuesday’s big package announced by Arun Jaitley was meant to give a concrete reply to the naysayers.

The infusion of Rs 2.11 lakh crore into public sector banks is bound to give a fillip to the economy, mostly to medium and small scale entrepreneurs, who are in need of loans. This, in turn, will create massive job growth. Naturally, when highways,  housing and railway get fresh infusion of funds, it will give a big boost to the economy. The Modi government has named this New India Takeoff plan. On our part, we will keep a close watch on the implementation of this plan, and let our readers and viewers know, how much and in what manner it has progressed.

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Air Pollution in Delhi-NCR Post-Diwali

Diwali Aaj Ki BaatThe Air Quality Index in Delhi stood at 403 on Friday morning, a day after Diwali this year, which was comparatively better than last year’s post-Diwali AQI of 445. This is despite a full ban on the sale of firecrackers in the entire National Capital Region by the Supreme Court, which is being enforced till October 31. Firecrackers were burst on a large scale on Diwali night, but it would be difficult to make comparisons of air pollution with last year’s figures. The presence of  harmful particulates in air depends on the weather of that particular day.

Last year, when Diwali was celebrated, winter had almost set in, whereas this was not the case this year. Normally smogs do not occur if the temperature is on the higher side. Moreover, the pollution level was lower this year because harvesting is yet to be over in the neighbouring states, whereas last year harvesting was over and farmers were openly burning stubble in the fields. This year there is widespread awareness against burning of stubble.

One major contribution to air pollution in Delhi comes from the emission of carcinogenic gases from the diesel vehicles. The National Green Tribunal, in November 2014, had ordered a ban on plying of all 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the NCR, and last month, it dismissed the Centre’s plea for modification to this order. According to experts, one old diesel vehicle causes pollution equivalent to 24 petrol vehicles or 36 CNG vehicles.There are more than seven lakh diesel vehicles in Delhi. Firecrackers are burst only on Diwali night in the capital, whereas diesel vehicles run daily, contributing massively to air pollution. Therefore, to assume that air pollution in Delhi-NCR this year post-Diwali was less would be incorrect, because there has been no major curb on plying of diesel vehicles so far.

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Why Yogi Adityanath Celebrated Diwali in Ayodhya

Aaj Ki Baat YogiThe grand Diwali show mounted in Ayodhya by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday earned him plaudits from large sections of society. For the last 25 years, Ayodhya had been at the centre of controversy for people across the world. Many people have been making negative remarks about this holy city, the birthplace of Lord Ram. The Ramjanmabhoomi controversy had been and continues to be the bone of contention between the two communities. On Wednesday, however, people across the world saw Yogi Adityanath presenting the positive side of the heritage of Ayodhya. He sought to create a world record of lighting diyas on the banks of Saryu river, and the holy town was decked with lights along with a beautiful laser show. Celebrations apart, Yogi Adityanath sent out a message on what an ideal Ram Rajya should be. A Ram Rajya where the poor get houses and every house gets electricity. He spoke of Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, and used the metaphors of Lord Ram and the rich heritage of Ayodhya. Nobody should have any objections to Yogi’s viewpoint. This is a welcome gesture.

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Need to Modernize Madrasas

MadrasasThe UP government may cancel the accreditation of 2,682 madrasas for failing to upload details on the official madrasa portal despite several reminders. The state government had launched the UP Madrasa Board portal in August this year and had asked all madrasas to give details of teachers, staff and students, along with building and class measurements added with photographs. There are nearly 16,000 madrasas in UP, out of which 560 are fully aided. Madrasas play an important role in imparting primary and middle-level education to poor Muslim students, but the mode of teaching is several centuries old. Madrasas did not change with time, and hence the need to modernize them. I remember, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clearly said in our show Aap Ki Adalat in 2014 that he wanted to see Muslim youths with a holy Quran in one hand, and a computer in another, but this can happen only when computer teaching is imparted through madrasas. Naturally, the state government requires details about facilities in madrasas in order to chalk out a proper plan. Madrasa owners should come forward and share details, and if they require time, they should be given. Already the deadline has been extended twice.

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Why Leaders Like Sangeet Som Need to be Tamed

Sangeet SomThe irrepressible BJP MLA Sangeet Som has again stirred a hornets’ nest by making controversial remarks about Taj Mahal. Som has said, “Those who are feeling pain over the omission of Taj Mahal in the UP government booklet on tourist places, should know what the Mughal history is all about”. Som went to the extent of saying that Taj Mahal was built by a Mughal emperor who imprisoned his father and tormented Hindus in UP and in the whole of India. Som promised to remove the names of “Mughal invaders” Babur, Akbar and Aurangzeb from history books.Whatever Sangeet Som may say, his remarks on the world heritage site Taj Mahal is unacceptable. Taj Mahal is, in fact, the Taj (crown) of India. The Taj Mahal is regarded as the most beautiful monument of love across the world. Every year, millions of tourists visit India to see the Taj Mahal.

On one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath are constantly working on the “development”, and on the other hand, individuals like Sangeet Som, Sadhvi Prachi and Sakshi Maharaj are trying to derail the vehicle of development. They are intentionally raising issues which are bound to cause a gulf between Hindus and Muslims. Even on Monday, Yogi said, not a single communal riot took place in UP during his seven-month-long tenure, because his government believed in “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.

It is now time that Prime Minister Modi and Yogi Adityanath should ask Sangeet Som to stop spewing venom and prevent such small-time leaders from seeking cheap publicity. These individuals, in their greed to grab headlines, are causing harm to the people at large, and are trying to create unrest in society. It is because of individuals like Sangeet Som, that the good work being done by the Centre and UP government fade into the background, creating doubts and apprehensions in the minds of people.

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Allahabad HC Verdict in Aarushi Case Should Be an Eyeopener to All


Aaj ki Baat 13th OctThe Allahabad High Court judgement in Aarushi murder case should serve as an eyeopener to all. In stinging observations against the CBI and the trial court, the High court observed that the trial judge “unmindful of basic tenets of law…adopted partial and parochial approach”…and the trial court’s verdict was “a creation of fanciful reasoning”. The 273-page judgement by a bench of Justice B K Narayana and A K Mishra, observed that the trial court judge “like a film director tried to thrust coherence amongst facts inalienably scattered here and there but not giving any coherence to the idea as to what in fact happened.” The High Court also slammed the CBI saying it tampered with evidence and tutored and planted witnesses.

After reading the entire judgement, I feel sad to find that the CBI already knew that Nupur Talwar and Rajesh Talwar were innocent. The CBI had even prepared the closure report, but the trial court converted the closure report into a chargesheet and while making Nupur and Rajesh Talwar the prime accused, sentenced them to life imprisonment. India TV spoke to two former CBI officials, one of whom had personally investigated the case, and the other was a former CBI chief. Both admitted that the CBI had no concrete evidence to prove that Aarushi was murdered by her parents. And yet, both Nupur and Rajesh Talwar had to spend four years in jail, and face nine years of infamy as being suspects in their daughter’s murder. And look at the weakness in our judicial system. Even after being proved innocent by the High Court, the couple will have to spend some more days in jail, for the simple reason that process of release from jail during a weekend would take more time. The entire system needs to be reformed and debated over, so that no innocent person should ever face such a situation in future.

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Who Will Return the Lost Years of Nupur, Rajesh Talwar?

Aaju ki Baat pic 12th OctThe mystery continues. Nobody can surely say who killed Aarushi Talwar. On Thursday, the division bench of Allahabad High Court struck down the trial court’s verdict giving life sentence to Aarushi Talwar’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur, and acquitted the couple. For four long years, the dentist couple suffered incarceration inside Dasna jail. Aarushi cannot return, but who will return the lost four years of Rajesh and Nupur?

We need to ponder over the issue deeply. There was the UP police, SIT, CBI, and yet the murder case could not be solved. The murderer was not caught, nor was the murder weapon traced. And yet the dentist couple had to spend four years in jail. I think there is something badly lacking in our system; in the working of our investigative agencies, in the working of our judicial process. Some people have already started saying , let the lower courts hurry up their legal process, they will get justice only from the higher courts, that is, the High Court or the Supreme Court. We need to correct this perception.

Several leading doctors rang me up to say that on a daily basis, they have to take immediate decisions about their patients and zero in on a course of action. There could be mistakes sometimes, but if a doctor commits a mistake, he has to face litigation in court. Doctors have to go to courts to defend themselves. But judges of lower courts have time on their hands while conducting trials. And yet innocent people end up spending four years behind bars for life. What should be done to improve this situation? Time to ponder.

Returning to Aarushi’s murder, there were no substantial evidences, no witness, no murder weapon, nor any motive. One can easily understand the pain that the Talwar couple must have endured. The pain is more so, because the dentist couple took utmost care of their daughter. On one hand was the pain of losing their daughter, and on the other, the pain of facing infamy of being labelled murderers of their own daughter for nine long years. Maybe the Talwars express their pain now, if they wish, when they come out of jail, but Nupur evocatively expressed her emotions in an interview she gave to Vartika Nanda of Tinka Tinka Foundation in November last year, when the latter visited her in Dasna jail.

Nupur Talwar told Vartika how in the beginning it was difficult for them to accept that they were murderers of their own daughter. The couple used to think why this was happening to them. In the beginning, it was painful for them to pass time inside jail, they always used to think about Aarushi, but then, the couple decided to divert their attention. The dentist couple started treating patients inside jail and Nupur read books and wrote poems.

For the last four years, never once did I ever feel that Rajesh and Nupur were culprits. A father that used to dote on his lovely daughter could never commit the despicable act. I could never accept that a wife could help her husband in committing such a heinous murder. Even the CBI admitted that it had no substantial evidence to nail the two, but the lower court did not accept. It ordered that the closure report be converted into a chargesheet, and sent the couple to jail. Had the relatives of the dentist couple not helped, in hiring lawyers to fight the case, the couple would have spent the remaining years of their lives inside jail.

The main question now is how Nupur and Rajesh will try to re-establish themselves in society, by reopening their clinic and start on a fresh note.

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Why are only Hindu festivals targeted?

12 Oct Aaj ki BaatClose on the heels of Supreme Court imposing a ban on the sale of firecrackers in National Capital Region, ten days before Diwali, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant permission to the Maharashtra government to allow Bullock cart races anywhere in the state during Diwali on grounds of cruelty to animals.

Earlier this year, there were massive protests in Tamil Nadu against the Supreme Court ban on ‘Jallikattu’, a traditional bull support during Pongal, following which the state assembly had to pass a bi-partisan bill to allow the sport.

The judiciary similarly imposed restrictions on Dahi Handi pyramids in Maharashtra during Janmashtami, wherein the height was fixed at 20 feet and the age of participants was fixed at not less than 14 years.

Last month, the West Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee imposed restrictions on immersions of Durga idols on Vijayadashami, as the date clashed with Muharram. The Calcutta High Court had to intervene and remove the restrictions.

If bullock cart race amounts to cruelty towards animals, then slaughtering of goats, sheep and other animals during Eid ul Azha should also be declared cruel. Naturally, questions are being raised on the ground of religion.

Questions are being raised as to whether the Hindu festivals are being targeted only because Hindus, as a community, are tolerant and do not come out on the streets to oppose such interference in their traditions and festivals. This matter needs to be considered.

It is nobody’s case that there should be no curbs on pollution or animal cruelty. But traditions, culture and festivals have their own significance, which cannot be overlooked.

On the firecracker ban issue, the Supreme Court must review its order. The order raises two important questions: one, that of timing, i.e. Diwali eve. The ban was lifted a month ago and nearly 500 licences were issued following which shopkeepers invested nearly Rs 500 crores, and then the sale was suddenly banned 10 days before Diwali. If firecrackers were to be banned, then why were licences issued?

Two, bursting of firecrackers during Diwali night is more than a thousand year old tradition and it cannot be stopped at the stroke of a pen. There is no ban on bursting firecrackers, and so, the aim of controlling pollution will not be achieved. One cannot send policemen to each household to question from where the firecrackers were procured. The SC order surely needs to be reviewed.

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