Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Shameful: Freshers in UP medical college had to shave off their heads due to ragging

Aaj Ki BaatIndia TV on Tuesday night in its prime time ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ show, telecasted a special investigative report on mass scale ragging inside the campus of Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences based in Saifai, Etawah.

The video showed nearly 150 first year medical students, walking in a single file, with their heads bowed, and their heads shaven. They were all wearing the same white clothes. The freshers were following a set of
“guidelines” set by their senior colleagues: not to raise their eyes in front of seniors and take deep bows whenever a senior colleague approached them.

This was not a scene out of the iconic Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’. The video depicted the harsh realities in which the freshers found themselves, when they got admission to the university. These freshers are supposed to ride on the dreams of their parents who want their children to become doctors.

This video strikes at the innate sense of self respect of these medical students. It shames the civil society that we live in. It amply proves that the shameful practice of ragging is still prevalent in our educational institutions despite enactment of a law that bans ragging.

Normally freshers undergo mental stress during their first year in colleges. They are required to perform better in academics and adjust themselves to the new surroundings. Instead of offering them a helping hand, senior students of this medical university forced them to (1) shave off their heads (2) wear simple white dress (3) refrain from raising their eyes in front of seniors (4) deeply bow whenever a senior student approached them, and (5) walk in single file to their classrooms.

This is nothing short of a medieval practice. Initially, when I was showed the video, I could not believe my eyes, but after I got it crosschecked and found that the video was authentic, I was shaken. Are we living in the 21st century or not?

The vice-chancellor of the medical university initially pooh-poohed this video when our reporter showed it to him. He said, these freshers were only following the guidelines so that they remained disciplined.

To buttress his argument, the vice-chancellor said, medical students in the past had to undergo severe ragging, and that freshers had to comply with certain “set of guidelines”. After shooting off his mouth, the VC then realized his folly and assured that action would be taken.

According to a study, there were 4,700 complaints of ragging in India during the last seven years. Fifty four students committed suicide during these seven years because of ragging.

There were 1,078 cases of ragging in UP alone, followed by MP, West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. After the anti-ragging law was enacted, educational institutions implemented tough rules to prevent ragging, but it seems the guidelines are being ignored more in practice than as exceptions. There was the case of Aman Kachroo, a medical student in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, who committed suicide after ragging in 2009.

The UP government must take stern action against the culprits and set an example so that others should refrain from carrying out this ignoble practice in educational institutions.

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Pakistan must tone down anti-India rhetoric on Kashmir

akbUnited States President Donald Trump on Monday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on phone for nearly half an hour and later rang up Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He urged both countries to work towards easing tensions.

Later, Trump tweeted: “Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!”

This tweet conceals more than it is supposed to reveal. The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday evening, informed media that Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence” by the neighbouring country.

Soon after, Trump is reported to have told the Pakistani PM over phone to tone down his anti-India rhetoric in the interest of peace in the region. This was confirmed by the White House which said in a readout of the telephone call that the US President told Imran Khan about “the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the White House, Trump “reaffirmed the need to avoid escalation of the situation and urged restraint on both sides”.

The ball is now in Pakistan’s court. Since August 5, when India announced full integration of J&K with the Indian Union, and abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to the state, Pakistan has been crying hoarse. It sought to raise the issue in the UN Security Council with its ally China, but the world body declined to issue even a statement, leave alone discussing the issue in an emergency UNSC meeting.

Following abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan has snapped trade relations with India, expelled our High Commissioner, unilaterally suspended railway and bus services, and escalated the situation along the Line of Control by resorting to shelling. Its Prime Minister and all senior cabinet ministers went to Pak Occupied Kashmir on their Independence Day,in what they called a show of “solidarity”. Their leader Imran Khan used adjectives like “racist”, “supremacist” for our Prime Minister. This was the extreme rhetoric that Modi was referring to during his telephonic talk with President Trump.

All attempts by Pakistan to internationalize the Kashmir issue have failed miserably. None of the Big Five except China in the UN Security Council sided with Pakistan. It is now an openly acknowledged fact that Pakistan is the cradle of terrorism in this region. It harbours and trains terrorists and seeks to destabilize its neighbouring countries like India and Afghanistan.

It was in this background that our Prime Minister clearly told President Trump that India has exercised maximum restraint despite provocations from Pakistan, and if the latter continues with its extreme rhetoric and terror cnspiracies, it will have to face the music. India will no more tolerate any adventurist design by Pakistan. The punitive air strike on Balakot is a clear example of India’s firm will and determination.

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Early assembly polls in J&K will be a resounding slap for Pakistan

akb0808 With the situation fast returning to normal, Jammu & Kashmir government on Friday announced that schools will reopen in the Valley from Monday. State government offices reopened on Friday after a 12-day gap, and people offered Friday prayers in mosques.

The state chief secretary said, restrictions on movement are being removed in a phased manner, while landline connections in some places have been restored. The chief secretary said, life has returned to normal in 12 out of 22 districts, while there are limited restrictions in five districts only. There has not been a single loss of life during this 12-day period, nor was a single bullet fired.

Telecommunication services like internet and cellphone networks will be restored gradually, because separatists have been using social media to circulate inflammatory and false rumours. It is because of these separatists that the common man is facing problems due to restrictions on cellphone networks.

I agree with Governor Satyapal Malik that peaceful law and order situation during the last twelve days was the topmost priority, due to which these restrictions were imposed. These restrictions nevertheless caused problems for the common man, but from a wider perspective, the ground reality is that there has been no incident of violence during this period. The entire credit goes to the peace loving common Kashmiris, who exercised utmost restraint despite inflammatory statements from across the border.

Pakistan is still trying hard to create an atmosphere of violence in the valley, but has failed so far. It also tried to internationalize the Kashmir issue by going to the United Nations, but failed. The Pakistani army will now try to foment tension in the valley by carrying out terror strikes, but our security forces are on high alert.

Meanwhile, preparations have begun to hold assembly elections at the earliest. From what I have learnt, the Election Commission has initiated the process for holding assembly elections before the onset of winter, and dates are being finalized. The people of Jammu & Kashmir will have the freedom to choose their representatives.

Peaceful conduct of elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be a resounding slap on the face of Pakistan which had been crying hoarse after the scrapping of Article 370. Let us all hope, sanity will prevail in the Valley.

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Why Modi appealed for population control, polythene ban and water conservation

akb0806 Watching Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak for 92 minutes on Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort reaffirmed my earlier view that he knows how to touch the pulse of the people. Modi refrained from political rhetoric and spoke on public issues that touched the people at large.

It was his sixth speech as PM from the Red Fort. Modi gave a quick analysis of what his government did during its first five year term, and what it has done in the first seventy days of his second term. Modi connects directly with the common man, and leaves the impression of a leader who does what he promises, and promises what he intends to do.

The decision to scrap Article 370 in Kashmir was a courageous one. Abolishing Triple Talaq practice by law was not an easy task. These were decisions which had wider political ramifications, and which earlier governments had shunned because of the political risks involved. But Modi is a leader who does not bother about political fallout, particularly when the issues relate to the interests of the nation and society.

One has to admit that Modi has got tremendous support from all sections of countrymen over the issue of scrapping Article 370 in Kashmir. He also got the support from most of the Muslim women, who have now been freed from the Damocles’ sword of Triple Talaq. Modi succeeds because his intentions are well meaning and there is clarity of will (neeyat saaf, iraade nek).

The most important point to note is that Modi realizes that he cannot succeed without massive support and cooperation from the people. Whether it was Swachhata Abhiyan or Jan Dhan Yojana, these could not have been successful without public participartion.

On Independence Day, the PM spoke of three new issues – one, population control, two, ban on use of plastic and polythene, and three, water conservation. He spoke of his intention to make laws and seek popular support on these issues. I would like to add to his appeal and request all of you to contribute your mite in achieving these three objectives. It will ultimately benefit all of us.

Controlling population explosion should be our topmost priority. The population of UP alone is more than the population of 114 countries. In 1947, India’s population was 32 crore, today it is going to touch 132 crore. Since land, water and natural resources in India are limited, we must take up this issue on a war footing. Everybody knows what happened during Emergency, when Sanjay Gandhi resorted to forcible sterilization. It is a good omen that Muslim ulema have come forward and offered their support to Modi on this issue. Let us all, irrespective of religion, decide that we should have small nuclear families.

The next issue concerns environment. Every day, 26,000 tonnes of plastic garbage is generated in India, out of which Delhi alone accounts for nearly seven tonnes. Polythene products are carcinogenic and they take a thousand years to decompose. Nearly one tonne of plastic garbage pollute our sea coast daily, endangering marine life. They are a threat to our environment both on land and water. All of us should vow to shun the use of polythene.

The third issue concerns water. Even after 72 years of independence, nearly 60 per cent of our people do not have access to clean drinking water. This in a country which gets the largest amount of rain water, but most of the flood water during the monsoon flow down to the seas and go waste. We should join hands to conserve every drop of water, because our ground water resources are depleting fast. Modi has created a separate Jal Shakti ministry which will oversee water conservation, recharging of ground water and work towards providing piped water to rural households by 2024.

Modi also spoke of ‘One Nation, One Election’. I wholeheartedly support his suggestion. For the last several years, he had been persuading political parties to agree to holding of parliamentary and all state assembly elections simultaneously.

In 1952, the first General Elections to both Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously and this practice continued till 1967, when the era of coalition governments began and the Congress begun losing its monopoly over power. Presently, we find that there are state assembly elections almost at least twice a year and our Election Commission is busy holding assembly elections almost every year. This results in unnecessary electoral expenditure, policy paralysis in states due to enforcement of Model Code of Conduct, and populist promises made by political leaders to garner votes.

This poll cycle continues till the Lok Sabha elections, which take place every five years. These massive poll exercises result in heavy outgo from public exchequer. Many of the political parties are still not on the same page over this issue. Modi has now taken the issue to the people, so that voters themselves should pressurize their leaders to agree to the proposal of ‘One Nation, One Election’.

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Why is Imran Khan afraid of another Balakot-type strike by India?

akb1508 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, his ministers and army generals were present in Pak Occupied Kashmir on August 14 to express their solidarity over the Kashmir issue, but the tone and tenor of the Pakistani PM was disturbing. Imran Khan alleged that India was planning another strike inside POK similar to the one at Balakot after the suicide terror attack in Pulwama.

“The information that we have is that they (India) have made a more sinister program to divert the world’s attention from what they are doing in Kashmir” – this was a desperate Pakistani Prime Minister speaking, after the international community snubbed his country’s efforts to raise the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Imran Khan vowed that he and his army would fight “till the end” if attacked.

The Pakistani army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa also spoke on more or less similar lines. This reflects the desperation of the Pakistani civilian and military leadership. They are desperately trying to boost the sagging morale of the separatists and terrorists in Kashmir.

India TV on Wednesday showed video clips of common Pakistani citizens expressing their anger against Imran Khan and his government because of runaway inflation in the prices of essential commodities and mounting debts that his country is facing. The Pakistani Prime Minister is not being trusted by his own countrymen who had voted for his party in the general elections.

Imran Khan is carrying on with the facade of “solidarity with Kashmiris”, but is unwilling to listen to the woes of Pakistanis. He has been going to the IMF, World Bank, China and Arab countries with a begging bowl, seeking loans to bail out his country’s deteriorating economy.

One thing to note is that whenever Pakistan gets loans and grants from other countries, it channelizes a large chunk of it to fund terrorists who have been lodged in training camps across the Line of Control. It is because of this dubious reputation that most of the developed countries of the world now distrust Pakistan’s claims of “combating” terrorism.

Soon after coming to power, Imran Khan blatantly copied Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies. He initiated an austerity plan for his government and cut expenditure, launched a scheme on the lines of “Swachhata Abhiyan”, distributed LED bulbs just as Modi did, and tried to copy several other schemes that were implemented by Modi government in India.

It is easy to copy Modi’s popular schemes, but it requires unlimited courage to take hard decisions like Modi took while okaying the IAF air strike on Balakote, and revoking Article 370. Imran Khan clearly lacks courage. This is the reason why he is crying wolf about another impending Indian strike.

The most interesting part is that most of the Pakistani leaders are nowadays talking about war, and that too, at a time when their government is unable to feed its poor.

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Centre should hold polls in Kashmir after return to normalcy

akb1408 With the situation in Kashmir valley slowly returning to normal, the authorities are busy making preparations for Independence Day events. A dress rehearsal was conducted on Tuesday at Sher-i-Kashmir stadium in Srinagar.

The state government has also announced that it would host a three-day Global Investors Summit from October 12 in Srinagar. The summit is expected to lead to investments from India and abroad. New industries will create job opportunities for the local youths and instill a sense of confidence in them.

Presently, the common people in the valley are facing problems relating to communications. This is giving rise to unnecessary rumors fanned by Pakistani state media from across the border. The Governor has already indicated that cellphone and internet services will be restored after the Independence Day celebrations are over.

I would suggest two more steps. Firstly, the Centre should start preparations for holding of assembly elections at the earliest so that power can be handed over to the people’s representatives. Secondly, if the assembly polls are conducted fairly and smoothly, the Centre should consider giving back full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. This will open up avenues of peace and progress.

Pakistan is trying to boost the sagging morale of terrorists and separatists by deploying more troops, fighter jets and artillery near the Line of Control. The Pakistani army chief was present near LoC two days ago to oversee preparations by his forces to destabilize the region. The Pakistani Prime Minister and his senior ministers are camping in Muzaffarabad, Pak Occupied Kashmir, to send the symbolic message that their country stands with the Kashmiris. They are however fighting a futile battle.

Our armed forces have a twin challenge: One, to ensure that peace is not disrupted in the valley and work with utmost restraint, and Two, to foil the nefarious designs of Pakistani terrorists and their handlers from Pakistani army. Our security forces are maintaining utmost vigil.

On the diplomatic front, the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi returned from China with an empty hand. His Chinese counterpart clearly told him that Pakistan and India should iron out their differences bilaterally. A crest fallen Qureshi had to tell the media in Muzaffarabad that “we should not live any more in a fool’s paradise. Those at the UN are not waiting for us with garlands.” Clearly, Pakistan has been snubbed diplomatically by the US, China and Arab countries on the issue of Kashmir.

The only option left before the Pakistani army establishment is to foment violence both at the Line of Control and in the valley, so that the world can sit up and take notice. Such desperate measures will however not work, because the Kashmiri people have seen through their game.

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Regaining POK is the only unfinished task left

AKBOn August 12, Eid ul Azha, people throughout the Kashmir valley offered namaaz peacefully in mosques and not a single bullet was fired by security forces. The attendance was in thousands, with the largest turnout in Baramulla. The only problem that common people are facing is the lack of internet and cellphone facilities. They are unable to connect with their relatives and other acquaintances.

The Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik told India TV reporter on Monday in an interview that internet and cellphone services would be resumed very soon, probably within a span of five to six days. His concerns, too, are valid. We have seen over the past few years how social media, through internet and cellphones, had been misused to spread fake propaganda and create tension among people.

The Central Reserve Police Force has launched a helpline ‘Madadgaar’, under which any citizen can ring up 14411 and seek assistance. Citizens can go to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and speak on landline phone. A few landline connections have been activated at some reputed shops in Srinagar.

I agree that this is not adequate, but given the security considerations, the common people may have to bear with this for some more days. Let’s hope, all restrictions will be lifted within a week.

The situation will definitely improve in the valley if peace and tranquility prevails. Let’s give peace a chance so that new industries and multiplexes can come up. Let Bollywood return to the valley for film shooting. All these will surely create jobs for the unemployed. Let more schools and colleges come up, so that Kashmiri youths can study and compete with their counterparts in the rest of India.

I am not surprised over the unusually aggressive postures of Pakistan, which has recalled its High Commissioner and has snapped trade, rail and bus links with India. Pakistani authorities are planning to observe India’s Independence Day as ‘Black Day’ in their country to boost the sagging morale of Kashmiri terrorists. Let them do so, but the people of Kashmir have now seen through the veil of lies dished out by Pakistan.

Our security forces are there to tackle any misadventure by Pakistan and its trained terrorists, and I am confident that they will surely come out with flying colors. Jammu and Kashmir was and is an integral part of India, forever. The only unfinished task that remains is: regaining that part of Jammu and Kashmir which was illegally occupied by Pakistani invaders in 1948.

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Let us work unitedly in creating a paradise in Kashmir

AKB_frame_76027Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first public speech since the scrapping of Article 370, on Friday tried to reach out to ordinary Kashmiri people by promising to restore full statehood at the earliest. Modi said that the people of J&K will get the opportunity to elect their MLAs and a chief minister, once normalcy sets in and assembly elections are held.

In his speech, the Prime Minister described how the people, panchayats and state government employees of Jammu and Kashmir were being deprived of the benefits of Central schemes and laws because of Article 370. Modi however made it clear that the region of Ladakh will continue to have the status of a union territory.

One key thing that the PM said in his speech was that every Indian citizen should come forward to convince our Kashmiri brethren that they are now part of the mainstream and are co-partners in the march towards progress.

I would appeal to all Indians to tell every Kashmiri they meet that the promises made by our PM for the upliftment of their region will be fulfilled and they will no more feel alienated because of hindrances that had been placed by history in the form of Art. 370.

While security forces will continue to do their job of eliminating terrorists in the Valley, it is the duty of every Indian to tell our Kashmiri brethren that they will now enjoy the fruits of development which they had been deprived of till now because of Art. 370.

It was this Article that had created a schism, a wall between Kashmiris and the rest of Indians. It is our duty to ensure that this sense of alienation created over the years is removed and Kashmiris are brought into the national mainstream. We must tell common Kashmiris whom we meet on the streets that our hearts beat for them.

We should tell ordinary Kashmiris that they have suffered enough because of being deprived of benefits due to Article 370, and that the time has now come to script a new history. We should contribute our mite in ushering a new era of peace and progress for the people of Kashmir.

This new era in Kashmir will surely witness a plethora of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, trains and highways, and the ‘jannat’ (heaven) that had been bedeviled because of violence and terrorism, will truly became a paradise for all. Kashmir will surely become a heaven on earth where people of all religions can live and breath freely in an atmosphere free from hatred and rancour.

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The passing away of Sushma Swaraj has created a big void

akb0808 The sudden passing away of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday night has shocked and saddened the people of India. I knew Sushma Ji for nearly three decades.

Her biggest quality was her communication skill. She was known for her superb oratory, as if the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati, had given her this divine blessing in the form of oratory. She had the knack of dealing with the most difficult topic in a simple manner, understandable to all.

The second big quality was her clean image in politics. Not a single charge of corruption was ever leveled against her throughout her long political career. She had a spotless image.

The third big quality of Sushma Ji was that she was a forthright speaker and never minced words whenever it mattered. She never bothered if any body took umbrage of her plain speaking. She used to speak out her mind clearly in the face of those whom she wanted to criticize.

The biggest quality of Sushma Ji was that she was a nice human being, easily accessible to all and always ready to help those in distress. Her followers on Twitter, both in India and outside, know this very well. Whenever people faced visa-related problems, it was Sushma Ji, who as External Affairs Minister, used to come to their help. As a result, she brought smile on the faces of many. These included Indians, Pakistanis and people of other nationalities.

All these qualities made Sushma Ji a leader with a bigger than life stature. Her absence will surely be felt by all for years to come.

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Modi, Amit Shah deserve credit for heralding a new era in Kashmir

akbThe historic passage of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill and the resolution to scrap Article 370 of Constitution that had granted special status to J&K heralds the beginning of a new era. It was a proud moment when 370 members of Lok Sabha voted in favour of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, and 366 LS members voted in support of the resolution to scrap Art. 370. A major historic blunder committed nearly 70 years ago now stands rectified.

Kudos to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for working tirelessly in bringing about the safe passage of these landmark legislative measures in Parliament. This could not have been possible without a strong political will, undaunted courage and careful precision shown by Modi and Shah in bring about structural change in the history and geography of a turbulent region.

For 70 long years, the nation was being ‘warned’ by so-called Kashmir ‘experts’ about the perils of scrapping Article 370 from the Indian Constitution. None of the previous Prime Ministers had the courage and political will to take this drastic step that had bedevilled the lives of several generations of people living in Jammu & Kashmir.

Modi and Amit Shah not only scrapped this Article but did so in such a smooth manner that no less than three-fourths of the members present in Lok Sabha supported the step. Nearly two-thirds of members in Rajya Sabha supported the landmark legislative measures.

Till 11 am on Monday morning, nobody, except a handful of persons, had the slightest inkling of what was going to happen about the future of Kashmir. It was a tightly, closely guarded secret known only to a select few.

Credit goes to Home Minister Amit Shah, who after becoming a Union Minister for the first time, deftly handled the debates in both Houses of Parliament on such a crucial legislative step. Nowhere was it evident that he was a first-timer central minister unable to tackle the flow of debate. Amit Shah skillfully replied to each and every question raised by members in both Houses.

The Opposition failed in both Houses to cite a single valid advantage of Article 370. On the other hand, Amit Shah outlined a plethora of advantages that will accrue to the people of J&K, which they had been deprived of over the years because of Article 370. Education, jobs, panchayati raj, central welfare schemes, sale and purchase of properties, new industries were some of the major advantages that Shah outlined in his speeches.

The political arguments put forth by three former J&K chief ministers, Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad did not hold water, because their present statements were totally at variance with what they had said earlier. After forging a failed coalition government with BJP three years ago, it was Mehbooba who had once said that Modi was the only leader who can solve the Kashmir problem.

A news channel showed how Farooq Abdullah was coming out of a hotel in Srinagar on Tuesday, instead of attending the historic debate in Lok Sabha. Farooq later lied to mediapersons from the balcony of his house by alleging that he was under custody. This was promptly denied inside the Lok Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah, who said he had spoken to the state police DGP and the former CM was neither under house arrest nor in custody.

The historic steps on Kashmir also exposed in public the rift among the Congress leaders. Senior leaders like Janardan Dwivedi, Deepender Hooda, Manish Tewari, Pradip Bhattacharya and Milind Deora refused to toe the high command’s official line on Kashmir. Hearing Manish Tewari, none could understand whether he was supporting or opposing the legislative measures. All this happened even as Sonia Gandhi was silently watching.

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How Modi rewrote the history and geography of Jammu & Kashmir

akb0806 Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took a historic decision by taking several vital steps together – a Presidential order repealing the previous 1954 President’s order incorporating Article 35A, a Presidential order rendering all provisions of Article 370 except one ineffective, a Reorganisation Bill for bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two entities, one J&K and the other Ladakh, and giving them the status of Union Territories, the former with an assembly, and the latter, without any assembly.

Within hours of the Union Cabinet approving these measures, Home Minister Amit Shah piloted these legislative measures in Rajya Sabha, which after extensive debate, passed them by two-thirds majority. The special status granted to J&K under Article 370 by the Nehru government thus stands null and void.

The consequences of these historic measures will give all Indian nationals the right to purchase property in J&K, right to apply for government jobs in Jammu & Kashmir, industries can now be set up in Kashmir without any hindrance, and all laws applicable to the rest of India can now be enforced in J&K.

The people of Jammu & Kashmir will get all the benefits under Right to Information, Right to Food, Right to Education, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Panchayati Raj Act, which they had been hitherto denied because of Article 370.

The moment these legislative measures get passed on Tuesday in Lok Sabha, where the NDA commands overwhelming majority, Jammu & Kashmir will cease to have a separate Constitution and a separate Flag. Like all other states of India, Jammu & Kashmir will become a part of the Indian Union. Home Minister Amit Shah, while replying to the debate, assured that the status of J&K as a union territory could later be changed into full statehood, once normalcy returns.

With this, a historic blunder committed seven decades ago during Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure, has now been set right, largely due to the political acumen and decisive vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his astute Home Minister Amit Shah.

The most heartening part of Monday’s debate was that regional parties like AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal, YSR Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party supported the measures to revoke provisions of Article 370 and Art 35A.

The historic move finally buried the ghosts of fear that were being raised by leader like Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar, and Mehbooba Mufti that it may lead to untold consequences in the Valley. Mehbooba Mufti had once threatened that if Art. 370 was revoked, there would not be a single soul to hold the tricolour aloft in the Valley. Farooq Abdullah had recently bragged that nobody, not even Modi, can ever revoke Art. 370. All these bombasts have now been put to rest with a single stroke.

Much meticulous planning had gone into preparing the ground for revoking J&K’s special status. Prime Minister Modi had been working on this for several years, and it was Amit Shah who put in his best efforts to plug all possible loopholes, arranged two-thirds majority support in the Upper House, sent troops into the Valley, and with a single ‘surgical strike’, the dream of “a single flag, a single constitution” was fulfilled within hours.

It was a dream for which men of the stature of Late Syama Prasad Mookerjee had given their supreme sacrifice. A dream for which leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L. K. Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, spent the most part of their political life, fighting for a cause.

The story starts from 26th October 1947, when the then Maharaja Hari SIngh of J&K, signed the Instrument of Accession, when Pakistani tribal invaders almost reached the Srinagar valley, and the maharaja had to flee. Two years later, on 17th October, 1949, Article 306 was inserted into the Indian Constitution, which later on, in 1952, became Article 370 giving special status to J&K. It was a “temporary, transitional and special” provision that gave the state of J&K a separate flag and a separate constitution.

For seventy years, no political party or leader had the courage to revoke Article 370 because of vote bank considerations and the fear that it could cause unrest in the Valley, but simultaneously, this was the very Article that was, over the years, sowing the seeds of separatism in the Valley. Article 370 clearly stipulated that most of the provisions of the Indian Constitution, and all legislations passed by our Parliament, shall not be applicable to the state of J&K. Clearly, it was a major aberration, that struck at the very roots of a strong and unified India.

Because of Article 370 that provided for a separate flag, burning of our national tricolour in the Valley was not considered a criminal offence till now. No more. Not only disrespect to national flag, any form of disrespect to our national symbols shall now be treated as a criminal offence. There shall be no “dual citizenship”. The common people of J&K shall have no special privileges and rights, and they shall enjoy all the rights and privileges that are provided to Indian nationals.

You cannot imagine the measure of indignities suffered by refugees who had crossed over to J&K after 1947 Partition. These displaced people were denied government jobs, their children were denied scholarships, they were denied voting rights, they were not considered as “state subjects” of J&K because of the infamous Article 35A that gave rights to only “permament residents”. In 1957, nearly 600 Dalit families began residing in J&K. They were denied government jobs, and were considered only for the menial job of a “safai karmachari”. Over the years, their offsprings became doctors and engineers, and worked in other parts of India, but if they wanted to opt for a job n the state of J&K, the only job that was allowed for them was that of “a safai karmachari”. Such was the indignities heaped on common people due to Article 370 and Article 35A that gave special status to J&K.

And who benefited the most? It was Amit Shah, who told the Rajya Sabha on Monday, that “only three big political families” benefited the most because of the special status to J&K.

A new chapter has now opened in the history of Jammu & Kashmir. With its integration with India, the people of this region can now breathe freely and enjoy all the benefits that are given to all Indian citizens, irrespective of caste and religion. The new era will surely prevent the youths of the Valley from being misguided by radical ‘jihadi’ groups and open up avenues of progress for them throughout this vast Indian subcontinent. There shall be no more discrimination on grounds of “permanent subjects” and “outsiders”. Simultaneously, the peaceful people of Ladakh will surely glow in prosperity, free from decades of neglect and discrimination.

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Why Centre has deployed more troops in Kashmir

akbThe situation in Kashmir valley appears to be tense after the state Home department on Friday advised all tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to leave the valley at the earliest. Non-Kashmiri students staying in the hostels of National Institute of Technology in Srinagar have been asked to leave the Valley. Nearly 28,000 paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the past one week and around 32,500 troops will be disengaged from Amarnath Yatra security arrangements and moved to other parts of the Valley.

Both the Centre and the Jammu & Kashmir governor have allayed fears of political leaders about any move to abrogate Article 35A of the Constitution that bars outsiders from purchasing property and from getting jobs in state government.

Army and police officials have said that there are intelligence inputs about a major possible terror strike by Pakistan supported terror outfits during Amarnath Yatra, after a US-made sniper rifle, anti-personnel mines and explosives were seized on the yatra route. There are also reports of Pakistan army moving jihadi terrorists back to the Line of Control to carry out cross-border attacks.

Meanwhile, Kashmiri politicians in the Valley are busy with their rabble rousing remarks. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has alleged that the Centre is trying to throttle democracy in the valley. Mehbooba has said that the people of J&K had agreed to accession with the Indian Union in 1947 on the condition that their separate identity would be protected. She has also said that any step towards removing Articles 35A and 370 from the Constitution will have major repercussions.

The common people in the Valley is flummoxed because of unending rumours and panic being created by vested interests. They should trust the Army and state police, whose senior officials said on Friday that Pakistan is planning to carry out major terror strikes in the Valley to shore up the sagging morale of terrorists. The security forces are working on twin objectives: one, to foil Pakistani plot and crush terrorism, and two, preventing youths from joining militant outfits.

Meanwhile, there are moves afoot to hold assembly elections in J&K before winter sets in this year, and the deployment of troops could be one of the steps to ensure a peaceful poll. The common people in the Valley should not be misguided by the fear psychosis that is sought to be created by vested political interests.

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