Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Green Muslim League flags during Rahul road show in Kerala may spell trouble for Congress in rest of India

AKB_frame_449Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday filed his nomination from Wayanad in Kerala. Along with his sister Priyanka and party leaders, Rahul took out a road show in which green star crescent flags of Indian Union Muslim League appeared with the tricolour Congress flags.

IUML is an ally of Congress in United Democratic Front in Kerala, and its flag has been the original green crescent star one. IUML has a good base in Muslim dominated pockets of Kerala, and there should be no objection to the use of the green crescent star flags.

There is no problem for Rahul as such in Wayanad because of the green flags, but when images of these green flags being displayed along with Congress flags were flashed across the nation on TV channels, it is surely going to give a wrong message to the people. The green star crescent flag happens to be Pakistan’s national flag, albeit with a white margin on the left, but the public at large in the rest of India may not take this kindly, particularly at a time when India-Pakistan tension is at its peak.

BJP leaders have already gone to town showing these pictures and videos and alleging that when Rahul Gandhi seeks Hindu votes, he puts on a ‘janeu’ and goes on temple hopping, and when he needs Muslim votes (there are roughly 29 pc Muslim voters in Wayanad), he uses green Muslim League flags.

Congress leaders will now have a tough time explaining why these green IUML flags were used in Rahul’s road show.

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Mehbooba is playing with fire by making threatening remarks on J&K’s accession

AKB_frame_53438 (002)Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister and JKPDP chief Mehboba Mufti has stoked a controversy by saying that Jammu & Kashmir’s “relations with India will end” if Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, which provide special status and exclusive powers to the state regarding residency, are abrogated.

This comes in the wake of a remark by BJP President Amit Shah, who had said that the two articles of the Consitution “are still our issues. We need full majority in Parliament. By 2020, we will have majority (in the Rajya Sabha)”.

Reacting to Amit Shah’s remark, Mehbooba Mufti said: “If that turns out to be the case, 2020 will also be a deadline from Jammu & Kashmir to the nation. If you remove those terms and conditions on which J&K acceded to India, our relations with the country will also end.”

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley described Mehbooba’s remark as ‘absurd’ and said that J&K will remain a part of India irrespective of what happens to Articles 35A and 370.

“The Instrument of Accession that Jammu & Kashmir’s Maharaja signed in 1947 was not different from the ones other princely states signed when they merged their princely states into the Indian Union. Article 370 came into being in 1950 and Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 and this makes it clear that these subsequent developments were not prerequisites to J&K’s accession to India.”

Jaitley said: “territorial integrity is part of the nation’s basic structure and can never be impacted by changes in the Constitution required by the country’s needs…Will India ever become part of the UK if Westminster were to revoke the Indian Independence Act?”

Political sabre rattling apart, the main issue is that of national unity and integrity. Mehbooba Mufti, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are playing with fire by making intemperate remarks. They are aware of the historical facts, but are deliberately keeping the facts away from the people of the Valley. Since it is poll fever time, such remarks are part of the usual routine, and Jaitley has done the right thing in pointing out the legal ramifications.

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Nation cannot accept any dilution of Armed Forces Special Powers Act

akbThe Indian National Congress in its election manifesto released on Tuesday promised to remove the anti-sedition law (Sec 124A of IPC) and review stringent provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act presently in force in Jammu and Kashmir and in several north-eastern states.

In its manifesto, the Congress has said it would “amend the AFSPA, 1958, in order to strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of citizens and to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley immediately hit out at the Congress, describing the manifesto as “a Charter to Weaken India” and said “it appears some of the points (in the manifesto) have been drafted by Congress President’s ‘tukde-tukde’ friends, when it deals with Jammu and Kashmir and national security….Being involved in terror will no longer be a crime. The party which says this does not deserve a single vote.”

Politics apart, the prime issue is that of national security and the morale of our armed forces. We cannot put the lives and careers of our security personnel in jeopardy in the name of garnering votes. The Congress party may have promised that it would do away with stringent provisions in the AFSPA, but has Rahul Gandhi ever given a thought to what will happen to our security forces battling insurgency in Kashmir and the North-East?

Our jawans and officers risk their lives while fighting terrorists, only for the larger interest of keeping our lives safe and secure, and conversely, it is our paramount duty to ensure that the lives of our jawans and officers are kept secure and they should be spared the agony and harassment of going to law courts to defend themselves for acts that they may have committed in self-defence and in the national interest.

Once a jawan or an officer is arraigned before a law court, he loses the support of the government and his family is left to fend for itself. How can one expect a jawan or an officer to face the terrorists in the face of a law that breathes down behind its neck?

I spoke to many retired army generals who strongly denounced this provision in the Congress manifesto and have alleged that this amounts to compromising national security. Such provisions can lower the morale of our armed forces and will openly give a boost to terrorism.

The nation cannot accept such a situation in any case. We cannot have our jawans and officers fighting the terrorists with one hand tied behind their back.

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Pakistan will face another surgical strike if it carries out terrorist misadventure

akbOn Monday night, India TV reported on its Aaj Ki Baat show, how a large Pakistani unmanned aerial vehicle was sighted across Khemkaran sector in Punjab and Indian Air Force scrambled two Sukhoi-30MKI jet fighters to stop the intrusion. As a panic reaction, Pakistan Air Force then scrambled its F-16 fighters, but since there was no airspace violation from either side, tensions receded soon after. This incident took place on early Monday morning.

This incident clearly indicates the level of high operational readiness of both the armies which are virtually on razor’s edge along the entire border and Line of Control. Fierce shelling from both sides is continuing across the 778-kilometre long LoC in Jammu & Kashmir.

Experts say there is much uneasiness in the Pakistani establishment since the successful Balakot air strike and the shooting down of a Pakistani F-16 fighter by an Indian MiG plane flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Public opinion in Pakistan is openly against its own armed forces. To counter this, the Pakistani army has resorted to churning out baseless propaganda on social media.

Amidst the chest thumping exercise by the Pakistan army, there are intelligence reports of Pakistan preparing for another terrorist misadventure inside India to shore up its falling prestige. Our army, air force and navy are on high alert and ready to foil any such misadventure.

I have information from top sources in the Indian security establishment that if Pakistan carries out another terrorist misadventure of the Pulwama kind, it may invite swift retribution from India on a scale larger than the Balakot air strike.

Already there are intelligence inputs of Pakistan army regrouping the terrorists and sending them to terror training camps that have been restarted. These terror training camps are being provided army cover, and if any misadventure occurs, the next surgical strikes will be carried out against these terror camps inside Pakistan.

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