Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Centre must fulfill its promises to Kashmir at the earliest

AKb0409 For the first time since the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday met a delegation of panchs and sarpanches from Jammu & Kashmir and assured them that the government would provide them security and life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakhs.

Amit Shah said, funds will now be given directly to the panchayats for developmental work. He also promised them that “no land will be taken away from people”. Only government land in Kashmir will be used to build hospitals, schools, colleges and industries, Shah added.

During the meeting, the sarpanches made it clear to the Home Minister that they had no objections over revocation of Article 370, but they wanted that communication lines should be reopened at the earliest. Shah promised them that this would be done within the next 20-25 days.

Work has also begun for providing employment to nearly 50,000 youths in government, Shah said. Kashmiri youths are taking part in army recruitment rally in large numbers.

A full month has passed since the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A, and not a single bullet has been fired so far. The situation, by and large, has been peaceful in the valley. India TV reporters spoke to villagers in the interior and most of the villagers said they trusted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sincerity and will in trying to bring prosperity to Jammu & Kashmir.

The people of Kashmir want that promises must be fulfilled at the earliest, jobs must be created and new industries, schools and hospitals must be set up. The common people have high hopes from the Centre and looking at their attitude, it seems that the fulfillment of promises is possible.

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Consular access to Jadhav was nothing less than a sham

akbAfter lots of dilly-dallying and a protracted legal battle before the International Court of Justice, Pakistan was directed by the ICJ to provide consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national who has been given death sentence by a Pakistani military court.

On Monday, the Indian Charge d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia was allowed to meet Jadhav in a ‘sub-jail’ near Islamabad, in the presence of Pakistani officials. “It was clear that Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims”, said our External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.

This was the first meeting with an Indian official since Jadhav was arrested by the Pakistani army in March, 2016. According to our MEA spokesperson, Jadhav looked clearly harried and he repeated the “confession” that he had already made. That confession was clearly made under extreme duress.

In his meeting with his mother and wife in 2017 too, Jadhav had made remarks which were clearly tutored and meant to support Pakistan’s claims that he was an Indian Navy officer sent to carry out terrorist attacks in Balochistan.

After Monday’s consular access, India has said that it would “continue to work towards ensuring that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India”.

In response to a query as to why India accepted Pakistan’s offer after having earlier rejected it because of pre-conditions, the spokesperson said that the meeting was important to gauge the health and well-being of Jadhav. There is a possibility that India may ask again for consular access. This time, Pakistan had cited jail manual to deny permission to the Indian diplomatic to speak to Jadhav in private.

Until and unless Jadhav can speak fearlessly to Indian officials about the circumstances in which he was arrested and then allegedly tortured to give a “confession”, any such consular access with be nothing less than a sham. The International Court of Justice should take note of this in the light of the Vienna Convention.

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Why is Imran Khan desperate over Kashmir issue?

akb0806 On Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan led the nation to observe, what he called ‘Kashmir Hour’, asking common people to stop work for half an hour and express solidarity on Kashmir issue. Television visuals from Pakistani media clearly showed that very few people participated. At some places, police had put barricades on roads to stop plying of vehicles, forcing the common Pakistanis to stand up and express ‘solidarity’.

In a freak incident, the Pakistani Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed got a mild electric shock while holding a mike. He was roundly criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he got an electric shock. The minister soon finished his speech and left.

In an op-ed piece in New York Times, Imran Khan threatened the world with the spectre of a nuclear war. He wrote: “If the world does nothing …(on Kashmir) …..there will be consequences for the whole world as two nuclear-armed states get even closer to a direct military confrontation.”

In the article, he also laid down conditions for resumption of talks, saying “dialogue can start only when Indian reverses its … annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lock down, and withdraws its troops to the barracks.”

Clearly, a desperate Pakistan seems to be on the defensive. It has not received any widespread support from Islamic countries and the western powers. It cried wolf over the possibility of massive violence and bloodshed in the Valley, but in reality, not a single bullet was fired, and there is peace throughout Kashmir valley in the last three weeks.

In order to pep up his domestic voters in Pakistan, Imran Khan first talked about the possibility of a war and then spoke about the threat of a nuclear conflagration, but the common Pakistani on the street is not buying his lame arguments. The common Pakistani is more worried about spiralling price rise of essential commodities and pathetic non-performance of the Imran Khan government.

The Pakistani PM hoped that ‘jihadi’ terrorists would carry out a spectacular strike in the valley, but that did not happen due to the vigil of our security forces. Clearly, Imran Khan now finds himself in a blind alley. He wants a way out of the mess, and this is the reason why he is raising the spectre of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, so that the world can sit up and take notice.

Meanwhile, in Kashmir, the Centre has embarked on a massive programme to provide employment to youths in security forces and government departments, and has plans to improve road infrastructure and build schools and colleges, so that the handful of misguided youths return to the mainstream and the people of Jammu & Kashmir can work to usher in an era of peace and prosperity.

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Utmost vigil against any terror strike is the need of the hour

akb2307The Gujarat sea coast has been put on high alert following intelligence reports that ‘commandos’ trained by Pakistani army may try to enter the Gulf of Kutch through Harami Nala (Sir Creek) area. India TV in its prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Thursday night showed a security circular issued by the Kandla port authorities cautioning stakeholders to be on the watchout against any suspicious boat or person travelling in the area, and report to police immediately.

Kandla port, renamed Deendayal Port, is the largest and busiest seaport of India and handles more than 106 million tonnes of cargo. It is 303 nautical miles from Karachi port. Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh had said three days ago that the Jaish-e-Mohammed has set up a ‘maritime wing’ of trained terrorists with underwater strike capabilities.

Meanwhile, Pakistani army and ISI have activated all the terrorist camps and launching pads in Pak Occupied Kashmir across the Line of Control in a desperate bid to push Border Action Teams to carry out sabotage and terror attacks.

Intelligence reports say that a brigadier level officer of Pakistani army has taken charge of Alpha-3 command centre for planning all operations from terror launching pads in Hajira and Kalighat of Pak Occupied Kashmir. Terrorists from Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen are being prepared for infiltration. Among them is Ibrahim, brother of Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

There are roughly 300 Pakistan-trained terrorists deployed in POK ready to cross over. They have been kept in four terror camps in Mansehra, Muzaffarabad, Kotli and Bahawalpur. They have been divided into sub-groups. Four infiltration attempts have been foiled so far by Indian security forces. Three training centres are active in Mansehra camp, five in Muzaffarabad, four in Kotli and one training centre is active in Bahawalpur.

According to military intelligence inputs, several infantry divisions of Pakistani army have been put on alert across LoC and troops have been directed to give cover fire to allow terrorists to sneak into Indian territory. To counter this, Indian army has put in place a three-layered security grid, and deployment of troops near International Border and Line Of Control has been beefed up. Anti-tank guided missiles, field guns, Bofors guns and surveillance equipments are in place to stop infiltrators.

Army, CRPF, J&K police and Special Operation Group squads are raiding secret hideouts of terrorists inside the Valley. Intelligence reports say, 115 foreign terrorists and 165 local terrorists are supposed to be hiding in the Valley. Intelligence operatives are zeroing in on Pulwama, Pampore, Bijbehera, Tral and Awantipora as most of the youths are being recruited by terrorists from these areas.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and the Pakistani army, desperate after being snubbed diplomatically by Western and Arab countries, are trying to raise the decibel level over Kashmir, as they fear that the people of Kashmir, after the abrogation of Article 370 may opt for peace in the Valley. The Pakistani army is trying hard to escalate violence in the Valley, and terror groups are being used to carry out big strikes. Imran Khan and the Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa know this very well that it would be difficult to convince the common Pakistanis, if their diplomatic and military manoeuvres fail. The only way out for them is to prod the terror groups to carry out a strike, by hook or by crook.

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Why Pakistan is resorting to jingoism, sabre rattling over Kashmir

akbPakistan on Wednesday night carried out a night time launch test of its ballistic missile ‘Ghaznavi’, capable of delivering multiple types of warheads up to 290 kms. Three aviation routes in the Karachi air space have been closed till August 31 for such missile tests. Though there is nothing spectacular about this short-range missile, the video was immediately shared by the Pakistani army on social media to create a media hype.

This also clearly shows that a desperate Pakistan, after being snubbed diplomatically, is now resorting to jingoism and warmongering in order to attract world attention to the Kashmir issue.

In my show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Wednesday night, I had revealed how Pakistani army is busy deploying its troops in Pak Occupied Kashmir. Three army brigades have been deployed in Kotli area near the Line of Control. Pakistani troops have also been deployed in Sunderbani, Batalla, Nowshera and Rajouri sectors.

The Cabinet Committee on Security met on Wednesday to evaluate the situation across the LoC. It has been decided that Pakistan will be given a strong response if it dares to carry out any adventurist plan. There are intelligence reports of Pakistani army preparing to infiltrate nearly 300 trained terrorists at launch pads near the LoC.

India, on its part, will be getting next month nearly 100 Spice 2000 air-to-ground guided bombs from Israel to counter the enemy threat. This is an advanced version compared to the Spice 2000 bombs used by IAF during its Balakot air strike.

Clearly, the Pakistani civilian and army establishment is desperate. After failing to secure support from world powers over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is now resorting to jingoism and has warned about a nuclear conflagration. Imran Khan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid, in an alarmist response, has even predicted a fifth Indo-Pak war.

Sheikh Rashid’s words cannot be ignored and taken lightly. He has clearly predicted that a war will take place in October-November and there was no use going to the UN to highlight Kashmir issue. He has also given a call to all Muslims to rise in ‘jihad’ war against India. He criticized Arab countries saying though there were Islamic, they were more busy selling crude oil.

On the war cry from across the border, Pakistan should remember that India has defeated its neighbour at least four times in the past. As for the ‘jihad’ call to Muslims, the Pakistani leaders should realize that the Muslims of India have always been valiant and patriotic in all wars that India has so far fought against Pakistan.

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PM Modi will surely miss the absence of Arun Jaitley

akb2307 It has been five days since the passing away of Arun Jaitley, and I am still unable to believe that his mortal remains have been consigned to flames and the ashes immersed in the Holy Ganga river in Haridwar. On Tuesday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his return from foreign visit, visited Jaitley’s house and met his grieving family members.

Modi stood silently with folded hands in front of Jaitley’s picture, and his eyes were moist. I do not know how he would have held back his tears, but I do know that Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley were close friends. They always used to be together during moments of joy and sorrow. Their relationship was never that of a minister and a prime minister. It was a relationship bonded in brotherhood and affection.

I remember Arun Jaitley lying on his hospital bed watching news on TV about Modi meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Arun’s eyes were bright and he told me, “Look, how my friend has risen due to sheer hard work. Modi Ji is today among the four top leaders of the world.” Arun’s eyes brimmed with pride on seeing his friend Modi achieving the pinnacle of glory. And, on Tuesday, Modi looked sad watching his friend’s picture on a lifeless portrait.

Modi Ji is an emotional man and he gives the highest importance to personal relationship. Few people can fathom the depth of his pain after the loss of a friend, but being a ‘karmayogi’, he, like Arun Jaitley, believes in carrying on with his duty. I know that Prime Minister Modi will surely miss the absence of Jaitley both in his personal and public life.

All of us, in our own way, are trying to carry forward the legacy of Arun Jaitley, and as a symbolic gesture, in my capacity as president of Delhi and District Cricket Association, I announced that the stadium at Ferozeshah Kotla, will be renamed as Arun Jaitley stadium. Arun was DDCA president for 13 years at a stretch, and during this period, he got the entire stadium renovated. The capacity of the stadium was increased and the dressing room and players’ room got a new look. The Ferozeshah Kotla cricket ground will continue with the old name.

It was because of Arun Jaitley’s encouragement and guidance that players of the calibre of Virat Kohli, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra, Ishaant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Rishabh Pant came on the national stage.

The renaming of the stadium will be done on September 12 in the presence of Team India captain Virat Kohli and his players. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be the chief guest, and cricket players of repute will attend the event.

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Arun Jaitley: My friend, guardian and guide

akb0808 Normally my show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ is not aired on weekends on India TV, but Saturday (August 24) was a special day. Today I want to share my sorrow and grief with my viewers, because my best friend Arun Jaitley is no more.
Arun used to tell me that difficulties do come in life, crisis do occur and illness does takes place, but the show must go on. Heeding to his advice, I have come before my viewers to share my grief.
Arun was a nice individual, a good leader, but personally I have lost my best friend who, being elder to me, was also my guardian. Today I really feel the sorrow of losing an elder in the family. He guided me in the best of times and the worst of times.
For me, Arun is not merely a name, he is the incarnate of all those values whom I hold dear in my life. Our relationship was not 10 to 15 years old, it spanned 45 years that strengthened with the march of time. Normally the relationship between a journalist and a politician more or less remains professional, but we knew each other when he was not a leader nor was I in journalism.
I personally witnessed the gradual rise of Arun in politics, and on his part, he helped me in becoming a good journalist. Today, as I recollect those 45 years of friendship with him, I can remember each and every moment. The imagery of those moments appear as flashbacks at the back of my mind.
For the last 15 days, whenever I used to leave my office after Aaj Ki Baat show, I used to reach AIIMS hoping to hear some good news. Even the doctors were optimistic when Jaitley was in a stable condition. On Saturday noon, when I got the terrible news, I was crestfallen. I felt as if some thing snapped inside me and I had lost every thing. I could never acknowledge that Arun would ever lose a battle, but has any body won against God’s will?
Arun used to speak a lot, whenever I went to meet him. Occasionally, he used to tell me, Panditji, at least say something. Today when I saw him lying in deep slumber in AIIMS, my inner voice cried out, Arun, at least say something, but my friend had gone to sleep, for eternity. Has any body woken up from eternal sleep?
Our first meeting
I first met Arun Jaitley in 1973 at Shriram College of Commerce. I hailed from a poor family of 10 members living in a single room house in Old Delhi. I had gone to pay my admission fees at the counter, and the clerk was annoyed because I had taken currencies of small denominations that our family had saved over the years. The clerk became angry when he found that I was three rupees short.
At that time, Arun was a student leader of ABVP. He put a hand over my shoulder, asked my name, and asked me how much money I needed. When I mumbled the amount, he took out a five rupee note, and the admission fee was paid. The hand of friendship that Jaitley had extended to me in 1973 continued over the years till Saturday noon, when Fate snapped off our friendship.
Our days in DU
Jaitley rose from being an ordinary ABVP worker to the exalted position of Minister of Finance, Defence, and Leader of Opposition but there was never a single stain of corruption on him in his long political career. Moral probity and honesty were the hallmarks of his illustrious political life. It is difficult to find such honest men in public life. I had been his co-traveller in his early political life.
By 1973, Jaitley had already made his mark in student politics. He was then studying B.Com. Those were the days when Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan launched his nationwide anti-corruption movement, and he appointed Jaitley as the national convenor of Chhatra Sangharsh Samiti. The next year, in 1974, Jaitley contested and won the post of president of Delhi University Students Union.
As an ABVP worker, I used to work for Jaitley’s poll campaign. Since I could not drive, I used to ride on the pillion of Vijay Goel’s scooter to stick posters throughout the city and then we used to sit together for a late night dinner. Those were our days in student politics. I recently saw an old photograph of 1974 in which Jaitley was treating me and other ABVP workers to ice cream.
Arun loved street food, and he considered himself a gourmet expert. He knew where to get the best kebab, the best rogan josh or the best chicken wings in town. In short, he was a foodie and he loved entertaining friends and acquaintances with delectable cuisines. A few months ago, I had gone for a working lunch with Arun at his office, and he suddenly asked me, Panditji, do you know where one can get the best rogan josh in town? I replied, Well, I am a vegetarian, how do I know. Arun said: The best at Moti Mahal, and better than the best, at your own home.

Emergency days
Arun Jaitley was very good in oratory. He used to blend facts with logic to create an impact in the minds of his audience. As DUSU president, he always used to smile and never expressed his anger.
On June 25, 1975 at midnight the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi got Emergency proclaimed in India and almost all the top opposition leaders were arrested. The Delhi Police went to Jaitley’s house to arrest him.
When Arun’s dad, an eminent lawyer, kept the police busy in arguments, Arun slipped out from the back door. The next morning, he led a procession inside Delhi University campus, shouted anti-government slogans, stood on a table inside the DU canteen and in a speech denounced dictatorship. Police picked him up immediately.
Arun spent several months in Ambala jail, and from there he was later shifted to Tihar jail. In all, he spent the entire 19 months of Emergency in jail.
By that time, I and other ABVP workers had also been arrested and lodged in Tihar jail. Our wards were different. Jaitley was lodged with eminent leaders and senior journalists, who later became his lifelong friends. It was in jail that I realized the extent of Arun’s courage and political will.
Janata Party days
The Janata Party swept the Lok Sabha polls in 1977. Arun could not contest because he was yet to attain the minimum age of 25 years for contesting parliamentary elections.
I cannot forget the day when the Janata Party chief Chandrashekhar formed the national executive that consisted of political titans like Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, L. K. Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Nanaji Deshmukh, and the name of Arun Jaitley, who was yet to become 25 figured in the list. Later, Jaitley had to resign after RSS leaders instructed him to come out of the national executive. Arun never hankered for any plum posts.
In 1977, Arun had completed his graduation and had joined LLB course. He wanted me to become more active in student politics. I contested for DUSU secretary post that year and won.
The new office bearers sought Jaitley’s advice on whom to invite for the new DUSU inauguration ceremony. He suggested that the Prime Minister Morarji Desai should be invited. Desai attended the function which was presided over by Arun Jaitley. Since then, I had always wanted Arun to preside whichever event I used to organize.
As a lawyer-cum-politician
During the Seventies, Arun started training with his lawyer dad after completing LLB course. He was also functioning as president of Delhi ABVP and as the national ABVP secretary.
When the BJP was formed in 1980, Jaitley was appointed secretary of Delhi BJP. Since then he had been doing organisational work for the party for 22 years at a stretch, drafting resolutions, preparing strategies and briefing the media. He never sought tickets to contest Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha elections. His legal practice flourished during this time, as Arun revelled in multi-tasking.
Arun first became an advocate in Delhi High Court and also practised in Supreme Court. He was appointed Additional Solicitor General at the age of 37 during Prime Minister V P Singh’s tenure. He set the record of becoming the youngest Additional Solicitor General.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed his first government at the Centre for 13 days, then for 13 months and later for five years. Vajpayee used to trust Arun Jaitley, who became a Union Minister at the age of 47 in 1999. He was given portfolio of Information & Broadcasting, and later Law and Company Affairs. Vajpayee once told me that it was difficult to run the government without Arun Jaitley, but the latter was insisting on doing party work. Arun left the government in 2003 to do party work, but had to rejoin later.
Multi-tasking
Arun was good at multi-tasking. He was equally proficient in courtrooms and politics, he was also a cricket administrator, he loved watching films and listening to old gems by Sahir Ludhianvi and Shakeel Badayuni. He used to discuss odd things like food, cricket and other gossips with clients, while poring over legal files, and after he finished examining the files, he used to fire questions on minute details, which only an avid reader could grasp.
For Arun, it was not law, but politics which he liked best. For him, politics was a passion. He stopped doing legal practice, when he was appointed Leader of Opposition. He returned his legal licence to devote his time to politics.
Personal friendship
During the 45 years that we were friends, Arun always stood by me through thick and thin. It was due to Arun that I came closer to the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his family.
Arun Jaitley sat in the dock of my show ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ five times. Though we were close personal friends, he never expected me to be soft towards him while grilling.
I remember once when I grilled Arun hard soon after demonetization, I was later told by our common friends that I was unduly harsh towards him. I met Arun and asked him whether he was unhappy. Arun told me that I was only doing my job as a journalist and he was doing his, and he said, this grilling had added more value to the show.
Similarly, after GST was implemented, Arun came as a guest my show and explained how much essential it was for India to switch over to a digitalized economy in order to become an economic superpower.
The last interview was soon after the IAF air strike on Balakot in Pakistan. The Opposition, particularly Congress leader Kapil Sibal, was seeking proof of bodies of terrorists killed in the strike. When I posed this question, Arun was at his acerbic best. He said, even a superpower like the United States was yet to give details about the Navy SEAL commando action that led to the killing of dreaded Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his mortal remains were thrown at sea.
My last conversation
My last conversation with Arun was when he was getting ready to be taken to AIIMS. My friend appeared to be in deep thoughts. He told me, Pandit ji, I have got every thing that I sought from life. I wanted to become a student leader, I reached the top, I wanted to make my mark in legal practice, I reached the top, I entered politics, became the Leader of Opposition and Union Minister, my children are now well settled, you are also in a good position now, I do not have any more wish to fulfill. If I come through (this phase of treatment), I would like to quit politics, and only read books and write books.
Today as I sat near my friend’s body, I had a simple complaint to make to God: Why were you in such a hurry to take away an honest person whose only remaining wish was to write books in peace?

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Fresh fiscal measures to boost growth welcome, but more needed

AKB_frame_74815Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a slew of measures to revive growth, boost consumption and uplift investors’ sentiment, but more similar steps are needed soon.

Sitharaman announced cheaper retail loans for homes, cars and consumer goods, removal of surcharge on gains by domestic and foreign portfolio investors, speeding up of GST refunds, simplified KYC norms for foreign portfolio investors, lifting of angel tax on all registered startups and lifting of freeze on purchase of new government car purchases.

The Finance Minister also announced that violation of corporate social responsibility regulations by corporates will now be taken as a civil offence and not a criminal offence. She also announced amendments in the definition of MSMEs, release of Rs 70,000 crore for recapitalisation of PSU banks, speeding up of loan documentation process, and provision of Rs 30,000 crore by National Housing Bank for disbursing loans to home finance companies.

These announcements are sure to provide comfort to the market as FPIs had withdrawn nearly $3.4 billion since July. Tax rates for FPIs are expected to come down from 11 pc to 7 pc, according to market analysts.

Concerns about the state of economy had been raised over the last several weeks by several top industrialists and Nirmala Sitharaman had met most of them during the last two weeks to find out ways and means to overcome the current slowdown.

The industry was apprehensive about penal measures that had been proposed in the budget for corporates that flout CSR regulations, and the minister has sought to allay those apprehensions.

She also announced several steps to curb unnecessary harassment by Income Tax department officials, and clearly said that businessmen and investors being wealth creators will be given due respect. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech had said that wealth creators need the nation’s respect.

Nirmala Sitharaman has indicated that government would come up with more measures to give a boost to real estate sector next week. The moot point is that the Narendra Modi 2.0 government has understood the concerns of the industry and is trying to address them.

Yet much more needs to be done because this is a gigantic work. Many of the industrial sectors are facing the brunt of slowdown and they need stimulus from the government. The apprehensions being expressed are genuine and most of the people have begun losing confidence in the face of economic slowdown.

We hope the government will come up with more innovative measures to create confidence in the minds of wealth creators. The super rich class is presently paying more than 42 per cent as income tax including surcharge. The Finance Minister will also have to pay attention to this aspect too.

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A clear and tough message has now gone after Chidambaram’s arrest

akb2308 The dramatic arrest of former Finance Minister and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday night in connection with the INX Media case signifies the determinaton of the Modi 2.0 government to combat and root out corruption.

The senior Congress leader went incommunicado for more than 27 hours, after a Delhi High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail petition saying that he was the “kingpin” in the case that involved payment of bribe and offshore money laundering through firms owned by his son.

Before the Rouse Avenue CBI court judge in Delhi on Thursday, senior counsels Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleaded on behalf of Chidambaram, while the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta spoke on behalf of CBI.

Chidambaram’s counsels said that the co-accused in the case Karti Chidambaram is on bail, while two other accused Indrani and Peter Mukerjea are also on bail, hence there was no point in sending the former Union Minister to custody.

These counsels also argued that there was no scope of further interrogation as the charge sheet has already been prepared. They also pointed out that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board sanctions given to INX Media had the consent of six secretary-level officials, but no attempt had been made to arrest them.

On behalf of CBI, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta said that the Delhi High Court has considered the seriousness of the offence and has prima facie found Chidambaram guilty, because of which he was denied anticipatory bail.

Tushar Mehta told the court that custodial interrogation of Chidambaram was necessary to establish evidences about the money trail. The SGI said that Chidambaram played an “effective and informed role” in the entire conspiracy, and had evaded questions from both CBI and ED last year.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar said the charges were serious and sent Chidambaram in CBI remand for five days.

The Special Judge said, “the enormity of the alleged money involved in this case and the persons who are accused” required an in-depth investigation”. The judge however told the CBI to ensure that “the personal dignity of the accused is not violated in any manner”.

Whatever may be the final outcome of the judicial process in this case, a clear message has now gone to the people of India that nobody, in howsoever exalted position he or she may be, will be spared in cases involving corruption, money laundering and similar other charges.

It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who during the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had launched the “Main Bhi Chowkidar” campaign and had emphatically said in his election meetings that “whoever looted the country will have to pay the price for it”. Modi had then mentioned the National Herald case involving Gandhi family and the dubious land deals involving Robert Vadra.

Modi had then said: “I have been compiling proofs since 2014 and things are now moving in the right direction. While someone is on bail, others are shuffling between hearing dates from courts. Those people are making rounds of courts today. In my 5 years, I have managed to take these people to the doors of the jail. Now, I will put them behind bars,”

The fear of law has now set in and those who have been involved in wrongdoing will now have to face the full brunt of law.

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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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