Sanjha Morcha

In last India-Pakistan border village: Can’t forget Pulwama, but war leaves lifelong scars

With India-Pakistan tensions running high since a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama, the whole village of Mohar Jamsher — the last on the India-Pak border in Fazilka, Punjab — has been on high alert.

In last India-Pakistan border village: Can’t forget Pulwama, but war leaves lifelong scars

Gurdas Singh (front) with his brothers. (Express photo: Gurmeet Singh)

Since the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, Makhan Singh hasn’t had a full night’s sleep. His eyes and ears are fixed across the border and even his son’s wedding solemnised three days ago, didn’t weaken his vigil.

He is not the only one. With India-Pakistan tensions running high since a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama, the whole village of Mohar Jamsher — the last on the India-Pak border in Fazilka, Punjab — has been on high alert.

Watch | What is Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terror group that attacked the CRPF convoy

And with good reason. For, every time there is disquiet on the border, they pay a price. The last was in October 2016, after the surgical strikes, when they were asked to leave their homes and moved to a safe location.

Also Read | Across the aisle: Grief, anger but no wisdom

Surrounded by Pakistan on three sides and the Sutlej river on the fourth, Mohar Jamsher’s 1,500 residents have two choices to enter Punjab — row across the river or cross a high-security bridge. There is a BSF post at the entrance of the village, where every visitor is questioned before being allowed in.s sabre rattling between India and Pakistan intensifies, the destruction caused by the wars of 1965 and 1971 is still fresh in the minds of locals and over the last few days, the movement across the border has been of immense interest to all in Mohar Jamsher. On Saturday, women in the village were seen storing leftover dry rations while most men discussed Pakistan.

Sitting in his house, which is the closest to the barb wire fenced border, Makhan Singh is always tuned in to the loudspeaker on the other side. “That yellow building visible from our fields is their mosque and the green one is the Pakistan check post. These days, we are extra careful. We listen to the loudspeaker carefully to determine if it is azan or some other message after we heard of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s threatening message.”

 

The brothers say even though there were two weddings in the village on February 20 and 21, people were busy discussing the possibility of war. And only a few houses are pucca, most are temporary. “We live on the border and have left our homes four times in the past. You never know when we will be asked to do the same yet again, so no one invests much money on houses,” said Hansa Singh.

Hansa was a teenager when the 1971 war broke out. “Our entire family shifted to relief camps except me and my father as we had to take care of cattle. I remember hearing a loud noise. I thought it was a cracker but soon the Army came and told us `Jung shuru ho gayi hai (war has begun).”

Next to Mohar Jamsher is Mohar Kheewa, from where the border and Pakistan check posts are seen even more clearly. Khushaal Singh (76) said, “Although all seems to be well, looking at TV debates and social media posts, it seems the whole country is ready for war. The Pulwama attack cannot be forgotten but we still have harsh memories of the 1965, 1971 and Kargil war with Pakistan when we had to flee and start life from scratch, each time after a gap of 18 to 24 months.”

According to Kushaal, in 1971, 28 villages of Fazilka were overrun by Pakistan including Mohar Kheewa. Then, they were given Rs 500 per acre per year as compensation for about two years. “When we got our villages back after about 18 months there were landmines in the fields. They were taken out by the Army but it was difficult to farm after such a gap. It was the same story in 1965 and 1999. War leads to destruction and nothing else,” he said.

Also Read | Inside Track: Pulwama and after

Gurdas Singh, in his late sixties of Mohar Jamsher village, has a word of caution. “Going by history, Pakistan attacked us first always. This is an age of nuclear weapons. So, damage to India will be more. Pakistan is far behind us. I wish there could be a solution without war.”

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All farming is done under strict BSF security between 10 am and 4 pm. He said: “We do see Pakistanis also farming on the other side. Our side is more green than theirs. At times some try to talk to us and wave saying `Sat Sri Akal’ but we never respond. In the 1960s people used to talk to each other freely. Times have changed. We don’t exchange a word now for we don’t want to be mistaken for a spy.”


Give peace a chance, Imran Khan tells PM Modi

Recalling his conversation with Khan during a congratulatory call after he became Pakistan’s premier, Modi said he told him “let us fight against poverty and illiteracy” and Khan gave his word – saying he is a Pathan’s son – but went back on it.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan in New Delhi. (File)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday asked his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to “give peace a chance” and assured him that he “stands by” his words and will “immediately act” if New Delhi provides Islamabad with “actionable intelligence” on the Pulwama terror attack.

On February 19, Khan had assured India that he would act against the perpetrators of the Pulwama terror attack if it shares “actionable intelligence” with Islamabad but warned New Delhi against launching any “revenge” retaliatory action.

India said Khan’s offer to investigate the attack if provided proof is a “lame excuse”. “It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

“The Prime Minister of Pakistan has offered to investigate the matter if India provides proof. This is a lame excuse. In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years. Likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress. Promises of ‘guaranteed action’ ring hollow given the track record of Pakistan,” it said.

Last week, China, which has doggedly blocked the listing of JeM chief Masood Azahar as a “global terrorist”, has signed off on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) statement that “condemned in the strongest terms” the Pulwama terror attack and named Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the “heinous and cowardly suicide bombing”.


Explained: India’s policy shift in sharing Indus waters with Pakistan

Since the terrorist attack in Uri in 2016, India has worked to ensure it utilises its full claim under the Indus Waters Treaty. Several stalled projects have been revived, and many have been put on the fast track.

Explained: India's policy shift in sharing Indus waters with Pakistan

Power project on Kishanganga, a tributary of the Jhelum , in J&K. (Express Photo: Neeraj Priyadarshi/Archive)

Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari recently tweeted that the government had decided to stop India’s share of waters in the Indus river system from flowing into Pakistan. Coming amidst noisy calls for a strong retaliation against the Pulwama terror attack, Gadkari’s statement seemed to indicate a new policy direction from the government. That clearly was not the case, as the government also clarified after some time. The policy direction had, in fact, changed more than two years earlier — in the wake of another terrorist attack, on an Army camp in Uri in September 2016.

After the Uri attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that “blood and water” could not flow together, and India had temporarily suspended regular meetings of the Indus Commissioners of the two countries.

A much bigger shift was signalled a few weeks later, when India decided to exert much greater control over the waters of the Indus basin, while continuing to adhere to the provisions of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty that governs the sharing of these waters with Pakistan. A high-level task force was set up under the stewardship of the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to ensure that India makes full use of the waters it is entitled to under the Treaty.

Rights to be utilised

India has not been utilising its full claims, and letting much more water flow to Pakistan than has been committed under the Treaty.

The Indus Waters Treaty gives India full control over the waters of the three Eastern rivers, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — ‘Eastern’ because they flow east of the ‘Western’ rivers — while letting the waters of the three Western rivers of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab flow “unrestricted” to Pakistan. India is allowed to make some use of the waters of the Western rivers as well, including for purposes of navigation, power production and irrigation, but it must do so in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.

Explained: India's policy shift in sharing Indus waters with Pakistan
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Historically, India has never made full use of its rights, neither on the Eastern nor on the Western rivers. On the Western rivers specifically, there has been no pressing demand for creation of new infrastructure on the Indus rivers, either for hydroelectricity or irrigation. With a large proportion of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir having moved to horticulture from traditional crops, the demand for irrigation has gone down over the years. After the devastating floods of 2014, it was argued that storage infrastructure could have been built on these rivers as a flood-control measure.

As a result of India’s under-utilisation of its share of waters, Pakistan has over the years benefited more than it is entitled to under the Treaty. Pakistan’s dependence on the waters of the Indus basin cannot be overstated. More than 95% of Pakistan’s irrigation infrastructure is in the Indus basin — about 15 million hectares of land. It has now become the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, comprising over 60,000 km of canals. Three of Pakistan’s biggest dams, including Mangla, which is one of the largest in the world, is built on the Jhelum river. These dams produce a substantial proportion of Pakistan’s electricity.

Post Uri, India’s decision to change the status quo and use more waters of the Indus rivers was made with the calculation that it would hurt the interests of Pakistan, which has become used to the excess water and built its infrastructure around it.

What moved after Uri

One that moved quickly was the 800MW Bursar hydroelectric project on the Marusudar river, one of the tributaries of the Chenab, in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. Under direct monitoring of the Prime Minister’s Office, a revised detailed project report was finalised, prompt environmental clearance was granted, and an attractive rehabilitation package for affected families was disbursed. Recently, work has also been started. Bursar will be India’s first project on the Western rivers to have storage infrastructure.

The same happened with the Shahpur-Kandi project in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, work on which was stalled for several years because of a dispute between the governments of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. In March 2017, the Centre summoned the representatives of the two states, brokered a solution, and directed that work be resumed.

A much bigger project, the 1,856-MW Sawalkot project on the Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir, was also given the final go-ahead in 2017, and work is expected to start soon. Similar is the case of the Ujh project in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials say more than 30 projects are under various stages of implementation on the Western rivers, having got the final approvals. Many of these were started after the change in policy in 2016. Many of them have been accorded the status of national projects. Another eight projects are said to be in the planning stage.

Pakistan’s claims

Even before India’s shift in policy, Pakistan had often complained that it was being denied its due share of waters, and that India had violated the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty in the manner it had designed and implemented many of its projects on the Indus rivers. In the last few years, several Pakistani academics have argued that the Treaty has failed to protect the interests of Pakistan, and that India has managed to manipulate the provisions in its favour.

The result has been an increasing number of objections being raised by Pakistan on the projects that are coming up in India. The two countries have permanent Indus Water Commissions that meet regularly not just to share information and data, but also to resolve disputes. Until a few years ago, most of these disputes would be resolved through this bilateral mechanism. The dispute over the Baglihar dam was the first one that Pakistan referred to the World Bank, which had brokered the Indus Waters Treaty.

Baglihar, which was adjudicated upon by a neutral expert, did not go Pakistan’s way. In the case of the Kishanganga project, where the matter was referred to a Court of Arbitration, a higher level of conflict resolution under the Treaty, Pakistan managed to get a partially favourable decision. Some disputes over the Kishanganga have remained unresolved and are currently being addressed.

In recent years, Pakistan has raised objections on many other projects, including the Ratle project, the Pakal Dul dam, and Sawalkot. Officials say the main objective of Pakistan seems to be to delay these projects, thereby forcing a cost escalation and making them economically unviable.

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Last month, the Indus Commissioner of Pakistan was in India to visit some of these projects, as can be done once in five years in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.


NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL TO OPEN TODAY Spread over 40 acres, located right behind India Gate

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New Delhi, February 24

The country will get its first National War Memorial, the first such monument at the national level, on Monday.

India Gate was built by the British in 1914 as a mark of respect to the soldiers lost in various wars. In 1972, the eternal flame or ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ was added to mark victory in the 1971 war.

The war memorial comprises graphic panels and stone murals. Above all, busts of the 21 awardees of Param Vir Chakra have been installed. It has a layout with four concentric circles — ‘Amar Chakra’ or Circle of Immortality, ‘Veerta Chakra’ or Circle of Bravery, ‘Tyag Chakra’ or Circle of Sacrifice, and ‘Rakshak Chakra’ or Circle of Protection.

The memorial complex includes a central obelisk, an eternal flame and six murals depicting famous battles fought by the Army, IAF and Navy in a covered gallery (Veerta Chakra). Likewise, 16 walls have been constructed in Tyag Chakra for paying homage to the 25,942 battle casualties. The names of soldiers have been inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets arranged in a circular pattern which symbolises the ancient Indian war formation ‘Chakravyuh’.

The outermost circle — Rakshak Chakra — comprises rows of more than 600 dense trees, with each tree representing many soldiers who guard the territorial integrity of the nation. — T

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurates the National War Memorial in New Delhi on Monday

ARVIND YADAV/HT■ A statue of a soldier stands tall at the National War Memorial near India Gate in New Delhi.

■ He will dedicate the memorial to the nation built in memory of soldiers killed in action since Independence, including those who died during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions

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■ The war memorial boasts of four thematic concentric circles with a tall ceremonial obelisk at its centre that will bear the eternal flame

■ At the memorial, there will be a wreath-laying retreat ceremony held every evening where people can join in

■ The names of 25,942 battle casualties have been inscribed across 16 walls at the national memorial


Arrests, rumours fuel war fear in Valley

Arrests, rumours fuel war fear in Valley

A shepherd walks with his flock of sheep during a shutdown in Srinagar on Sunday. Amin War

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 24

A series of emergency orders issued by the state, arrival of paramilitary troops and the mass arrests of separatists and religious preachers in last two days has sparked wild speculations in Kashmir and enveloped the region in an unusual fear of war.

The unusually high tension in the Valley has come in the backdrop of the Pulwama attack.

The series of measures ordered by various government departments, either deliberate or coincidentally taking place in a brief span, has generated intense anxiety among residents who rushed to markets to ration large quantities of food and fuel.

The orders included a health department circular ordering Chief Medical Officers to collect supplies of medicines and surgical disposables, a food department circular ordering complete sale of foodgrains and a circular of the Home Ministry ordering urgent deployment of 100 companies of the paramilitary forces.

The panic and rumours were first sparked two days ago when hundreds of residents reported an unusual night-time aerial activity as the sound of fighter planes and helicopters kept them awake through most of the night.

The fears were further strengthened as a massive crackdown was simultaneously launched against the leaders and activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a socio-political organisation.

“Whoever is the architect of the fear psychosis in Kashmir, whoever did it to test Kashmiris, whoever took sadistic pleasure out of our suffering, may you go through the same pain that we underwent in the last two days,” a north Kashmir resident wrote on Twitter.

The panic was not only limited to commoners as the political elite joined the bandwagon, inducing more panic and leading to fears that either Article 35A will be revoked in the next hearing in the Supreme Court or a war was imminent.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said his father and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and briefed him about “the sense of panic” in Kashmir, urging the minister to step in with a statement and steps that reassure people.

“People in the Valley, especially in cities and towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner. People are hoarding food and fuel. Some government orders are adding to the sense of panic,” Omar said.

Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister, said there was a “sense of unease and panic in Kashmir”. “Nobody has a clue about what is to come but an ominous feeling of impending doom hangs in the air,” she said.

Mass arrests have spread panic: Sajad

  • Jammu: Urging the Governor’s administration and Central government to take immediate measures to deal with tense situation in the Kashmir valley, the People’s Conference (PC) on Sunday said mass arrests and troop deployment have created a “fearful situation” in the region. Interacting with mediapersons after a party meeting, PC chairman Sajad Gani Lone said the PC apex forum expressed its serious concern over the prevailing atmosphere of insecurity, fear and anxiety in the state. The meeting called on the Central government and the Governor’s administration to clear the air about various rumours in the state. “The party has also reiterated that both Articles 35A and 370 are sacred provisions of faith and any attempt to tinker with the state’s special status would be intolerable and unacceptable,” party general secretary Imran Reza Ansari said. tns

 


Tololing win turning point in Kargil war: Ex-Army Chief

Tololing win turning point in Kargil war: Ex-Army Chief

General VP Malik (retd)

Tribune News Service

Solan, February 22

“The battle of Tololing was a major turning point during the Kargil war,” said former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik during his interaction with students at Shoolini University here today. Gen Malik delivered a talk on leadership and motivation based on his personal experience as the Chief of the Army Staff.

Addressing students and faculty members, he said initially the confusion about the true identity of the enemy was the biggest challenge for them but capturing Tololing gave them the confidence to come out victorious.

He also disclosed that the Army was ready to attack Pakistan within six days.

As an Army chief, he couldn’t share his stress with anybody else.

The zest among soldiers to fight for the nation and their attempts to stay positive even in the face of war was his biggest source of inspiration during the Kargil war.

General Malik had been awarded Param Vishisht Seva Medal and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal. He has served two terms on the National Security Advisory Board and is also a member of the advisory board of various companies in the corporate sector, including the Indian Advisory Board of Coca-Cola. He was also accompanied by his wife Dr Ranjana Malik.

He agreed that the motivation of the Tricolour is a much stronger inspiration. But, in the battle, the Tricolour was always there at the back of his mind but the rest that he did in the battlefield was because of his team.

 


Pak lawmaker says ‘atmosphere beginning to thaw’ after his meetings with Indian leaders

Lahore, February 24

A Pakistani lawmaker from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party has met top Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Islamabad started backdoor contacts with New Delhi to defuse tensions between the two sides in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, a media report said on Sunday.

“The government has begun backdoor contacts with India and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who was in India last week, has met Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,” the Express Tribune reported.

“I have communicated a positive note to the Indian leaders and I hope there will now be a change in their behaviour,” Vankwani said on Saturday while talking to the paper over telephone.

He also met Minster of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, who has also served as the chief of the Indian Army.

The Sindh-based PTI leader, who is a lawmaker on minority seat, is in India as part of a 220-member delegation from 185 countries who attended the Kumbh Mela on an invite of the Indian Government.

His visit comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries in the wake of February 14 suicide attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad that killed at least 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Days after the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Modi said security forces have been given free hand to avenge the dastardly act.

Vankwani said he met Modi during an event and the Indian prime minister met him warmly, the paper reported.

He said he told Modi that he had come with a positive message and wanted to return with a positive message. He said later on Modi’s directive, Swaraj also held a 25-minute-long meeting with him, the paper said.

“I told the Indian foreign minister that in Pakistan its captain’s (Imran Khan) government now; he is a Pathan and he does what he says. We assure you that no Pakistani institution is involved in Pulwama attack. If India provides evidence, we will facilitate the investigation,” the paper quoted Vankwani as saying.

According to the PTI leader, he told Swaraj that the two countries need to take lessons from past and not to hold on to it.

“Enmity can be brought to an end by befriending the enemy,” he said, adding that he himself has returned after Ganga Ashnan (ablution) and never tells lies.

“I told them that we need to get out of politics of accusations,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.

According to Vankwani, after the meeting he “felt that the atmosphere was beginning to thaw.”

“Indian PM during his Rajasthan rally has hinted at holding dialogue with Pakistan,” he added. — PTI


India can now quickly build bigger jets, says DRDO chief

India can now quickly build bigger jets, says DRDO chief

India can now quickly build bigger jets

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, February 23

After the final operational clearance (FOC) of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, India is now looking at a rapid multi-pronged effort to build the next class of fighter jets having more powerful engines and potent weaponry.

Dr G Satheesh Reddy, who is Secretary, Defence Research and Development, and also Chairman of DRDO, said, “The FOC for Tejas is a landmark for the country. From here on, we can produce faster (jets).”  The design for the Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) is ready. The prototype will be ready by 2021-end,” the senior defence scientist added.

The Tejas weighs 6.5 tonnes and the MWF is the next class and targeted to weigh around 17 tonnes. The Aeronautical Development Agency and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have designed it as per the requirement of the IAF. It will have an engine of 98 Kilonewton (Kn) thrust.

Also, India is looking to take a technological leap. The DRDO is now in talks with an international partner to make a jet engine of 110 Kn power. So far, no such engine exists anywhere in the world.  “We are open to working on this and are in talks with partners for joint development,” said Dr Reddy, adding this engine could be used on future jets.

On being asked about the Kaveri engine, Dr Reddy said it would be used on UAVs. “It is not being shelved.” Notably, Kaveri’s thrust is about 75 Kn and 90 Kn is desired to power a fighter jet.

The Ministry of Defence has already informed Parliament about the technological difficulties of engine-making, including non-availability of raw material/critical components and skilled manpower.

On the much-debated construction timeline for the variants of Tejas, Dr Reddy, who took over as DRDO Chairman in August last year, said the first 20 of the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) version will be ending very soon. The production of 20 jets under the FOC version would start this year and would be done in two years. We are waiting for the IAF to place an order for 83 jets of the Mark 1A version.

On the engine of the Arjun tank, so far imported from MTU Germany, Dr Reddy said, “A new engine is being developed and will be tested.”

 


Pak takeover of JeM HQ Charade will strip PM Imran Khan of credibility

Pak takeover of JeM HQ

PAKISTAN can easily claim the world record for banning terrorist organisations. Ever since 9/11 it hurtled down the road of proscriptions and has rarely lifted its foot off the pedal. The problem is that the banned organisations do not remain cowed down for long. Their leading stars continue to rain down invectives on the Pakistan army’s enemy of the day, while public prosecutors fail to press home the charges, leading to courts repeatedly letting off the hook these terror-cum-charity outfits. Evidence suggests that the ban serves each time the purpose of getting the monkey off the army’s back. In the latest replay, Pakistan has banned two terror outfits led by Hafiz Saeed and its administration took over the Bahawalpur headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.

Clearly, the problem is in implementation. First banned in 2002, Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and JeM would have been decimated by now, had there been a determined effort by Pakistan. After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, it again proscribed 16 terror outfits, including the two anti-India terror outfits. Saeed’s principal gunslingers were jailed and it appeared, for once, that the centrist government of Asif Ali Zardari had got the measure of the radicals. But two dead public prosecutors later, the trial petered out. Even the US, which freely indulges in drone hunting of terrorists on Pakistani soil, was unable to get at Saeed despite a multi-million bounty.

But Pakistan is under the pump after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gave it a three-month deadline to sharpen the implementation of its anti-terror financing laws. The recent Saudi bailout may have been the last act of generosity by Pakistan’s all-weather friends. Its impending blacklisting by the FATF could deter foreign investors and hinder Pakistan’s access to international markets. The road ahead for Pakistan is already tough without the distraction of a large neighbour unveiling all available tools of coercion. As India determinedly tightens the political screws — it has gained access even to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) where Pakistan till now had the field to itself — and leverages its geo-economic charm, PM Imran Khan may find himself bereft of viable options.


Tathagata Roy must go Don’t spare those who demonise Kashmiris

Tathagata Roy must go

FINALLY, the Prime Minister has spoken. A day after the Supreme Court lent protection to Kashmiri students, Modi assured during a BJP rally in Jaipur on Saturday that the fight is not against Kashmiris and that the people of the Valley are at the receiving end of terrorist violence — better late than never. Meanwhile, the apex court yet again came to the rescue of the people, performing its crucial constitutional duty of safeguarding citizens from rabid mobs driven by hatred. A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday directed Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police of 11 states to prevent incidents of threat, assault and social boycott of Kashmiris. The court entrusted the safety of Kashmiris with police officers who were earlier appointed as nodal officers to stop instances of lynching.

The order had a salutary effect. Late on Friday night, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory directing all state governments to ensure the security of people from Jammu and Kashmir. The University Grants Commission, too, asked vice chancellors of all universities to personally look into the issue of harassment of Kashmiri students.

Since the court has very specifically mentioned ‘social boycott, etc, against Kashmiris’, action ought to be taken against all those who spread venom and sought to shun Kashmiris. The sad reality of Indian politics is that, among those who actively promoted this agenda was a Governor, a constitutional authority. Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy had put out a tweet early last week openly calling for a boycott of everything Kashmiri, asking people not to visit Kashmir or buy Kashmiri handicrafts. Despite the Supreme Court order, he has neither removed his tweet nor stopped his Twitter tirade. In the context of the order, he has committed an offence and must pay for it. As a person who is blinded by ideology to even see the difference between terrorists and those desperately trying to defeat terrorists, he does not deserve to hold the office of the Governor.