‘No More Hide & Seek’: Army Chief Says Will Cross LoC if Needed, Slams Pakistan for ‘Proxy War’ Against India

New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat has said that the surgical strikes have sent across a message that the Line of Control (LoC) will be “sacrosanct” so long as Pakistan does not vitiate the atmosphere.

Referring to the surgical strikes, General Rawat, in an interview with the Times of India, said it would no longer be “hide and seek” and if India had to cross the border, it would do so through air, ground route or both.

The Army chief also blamed Pakistan for supporting terrorism, saying the neighbour had specifically called for ‘jihad’ after the Narendra Modi government’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He added that it was Pakistan’s state policy to fight a proxy war with India.

He also rubbished Pakistan’s claims of using nuclear arms in case of a conventional war, asking if the international community would allow such a move. General Rawat said nuclear weapons were used for deterrence and not for war fighting.

Though he admitted that there was a step-up in infiltration attempts after August 5, he said the army was successfully targeting suspicious movement to combat such attempts.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have been on the rise since the government decided to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide the state into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Speaking about the situation in the Valley after the move, the Army chief said a large number of people had realised that the decision was for their good. He added that after 30 years of violence, people should give peace a chance.

Veteran Hindi and Marathi actor Viju Khote passes away at 77

Veteran Hindi and Marathi actor Viju Khote passes away at 77

Veteran Hindi and Marathi film-theatre actor Viju Khote passed away on Monday due to multiple organ failure. He was 77.

The actor, most famous for playing the dacoit Kalia in Sholay and Robert in Andaz Apna Apna, died at his residence.

“He passed away today at 6.55 am peacefully in his sleep at the residence. He has been unwell since quite sometime. He had multiple organ failure,” actor Bhavana Balsavar, his niece, said.

“He did not wish to die in the hospital so we had brought him home few days ago. It is a great loss for all of us,” she said.

The last rites of the actor will be performed at Chandan Wadi around 11 am.

Khote featured in popular films like Qayamat Se Qayamat TakVentilator and the TV show Zabaan Sambhalke.

Jammu & Kashmir Block Development Council polls on October 24

In a major push to emancipate new grassroots-level leadership in Jammu & Kashmir, the government on September 29 announced the polls for the Block Development Councils (BDCs) on October 24 across the State.

“Every District Development Board will have these elected BDC chairpersons as members, besides MLAs and MPs. At the district level, these Chairpersons have an important role in the development work of the district under the Panchayat Raj Act 1989 and rules of 1996,” said J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar.

The much-awaited elections will see 26,629 elected Panchs and Sarpanchs elect 310 Block Development Chairpersons in the first phase. This will be followed by polls for 22 District Level Chairpersons for the District Development Boards. The results will be declared on the same day.

“Whenever any candidate or political party approaches us for facilitating a level playing field, we are here to facilitate it,” Mr. Kumar said.

Panchayat elections were held in J&K in November 2018, and were boycotted by the two main regional parties — the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party — over the issue of Articles 370 and 35A. The elections assume significance with all the top leaders of the regional party remaining under detention after the August 5 decision to revoke J&K’s special status.

The elections, which will empower grassroots leaders, will create a new political class in J&K. An official said a Block-level Chairperson will have a Block Development Officer as his secretary and the District Development Board Chairperson will work closely with the District Deputy Commissioner in implementing and allocating money for development work at the district and Block levels.

The government has reserved 172 seats for Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes. Also, 33% seats have been earmarked for women Panchs and Sarpanchs.

“Of 316 Block elections, two Blocks — one in Kulgam and one in Srinagar, have no elected panches or sarpanches. There are four blocks where no women panches and sarpanches are available for reserved seats. Thus, there shall be no elections there,” said Mr. Kumar.

Meanwhile, the government said there were 12,776 vacant seats in J&K.

“We have to prepare fresh electoral rolls before holding polls for the vacant seats. There will be around 2% new voters. Unless they are there, we can’t have fresh elections,” said Mr. Kumar.

Mr. Kumar said two panches, one in Baramulla and one in Kupwara, have been detained under Section 107 during the recent clampdown. ( The Hindu)

World Athletics Championship: Long jumper Sreeshankar fails to qualify

A few days ago, Romanian Bedros Bedrosian had predicted a 7.70m for M. Sreeshankar in his World athletics championships debut and the Indian National record holder (with 8.20m) was a shade below that as he failed to qualify for men’s long jump final in Doha on Friday.

The 20-year-old had a best of 7.62m in the second of his three-jump qualification series, after opening with 7.52, and failed to make the qualification standard of 8.15m. He finished 12th in his group and 22nd overall.

“I didn’t want to be right, I prefer to be wrong, but this is life,” Bedrosian, the National coach for long jumpers who had taken a long break, told The Hindu from Romania.

“He lacks experience, he should have gone for stronger meets before going to Doha. And the headwinds were a big problem for Sreeshankar today since he has a 67kg body.”

Only Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria — the World leader with 8.65m – made the automatic qualification mark with an 8.40m effort and the next best was Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the US with 8.12. With just one jumper making the qualification cut, the best 12 were picked for the final.

South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, the Olympic silver medallist, was among those who qualified with a best of 7.91m for the 10th spot. ( The Hindu)

The Muslim Motibar Rehman looking after a Hindu shrine in India.

Before me, my father used to do this work and his father before him. Our family has been the keepers of this holy place for the past 500 years,” says Motibar Rahman (Photo: AFP/Biju BORO)

GUWAHATI, India: Even in the topsy-turvy world of Indian religion, Motibar Rahman stands out as a Muslim looking after a Hindu shrine, as his family has done for centuries – on the orders of Lord Shiva himself.

Like his forefathers, Rahman sweeps the Burha Gosair Than shrine every morning and lights candles for Shiva, one of Hinduism’s foremost deities, who many believe resides inside.

“Before me, my father used to do this work and his father before him. Our family has been the keepers of this holy place for the past 500 years,” the 73-year-old told AFP.

“The first man in our family is Borhansa. Lord Shiva came to Borhansa and told him: ‘I want to live in this place. From now on it will be the responsibility of your family to keep this place. I shall accept service from your family only and no one else’,” Rahman explained.

The shrine is in Assam state, part of India’s far-flung northeast, long a melting pot of ethnic groups and religions sandwiched between Muslim-majority Bangladesh and mostly Buddhist Myanmar.

Tensions have been stoked by a recent citizens’ register in the state of 33 million that its proponents hope will weed out “non-indigenous” people, many of them Muslims.

According to the 2011 census, 61 per cent of Assamese are Hindu and 34 per cent Muslim. The remainder are Christian, Buddhist, Sikh or of other religions.

Rahman said that his name was included in the citizens’ register – unlike about 1.9 million people who now face the possibility of being made stateless, put in detention camps and even deported.

“Apart from the Hindus, lots of Muslim people also come here and offer prayers. People including the Hindus and Muslims say that their prayers are often fulfilled,” he said. Source: AFP/nr

Kashmir was a mess before J&K’s special status was scrapped : S Jaishankar

Kashmir was a mess before J&K’s special status was scrapped : S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday that before August 5, the day Article 370 was scrapped, Kashmir was in a mess adding that restrictions were imposed to avoid a repeat of 2016 when the Valley convulsed following Terrorist Burhan Wani’s death.

Jaishankar said that the Indian government’s first concern was to ensure that there was no loss of lives due to violence and demonstrations in the region post abrogation of Article 370.

“Pre August 5 Kashmir was in a mess, difficulties in Kashmir did not start on August 5, it is supposed to be a way of dealing with those difficulties,” the minister said at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA.

“We had experience of 2016 when a self advertised terrorist cult figure was killed, a gentleman called Burhan Wani, after that there was spike in violence. Our intention was to manage the situation (post Article 370) without loss of life, restrictions were intended to do that.” he added.

Elaborating on the situation in the trouble-torn Valley pre-August 5, Jaishankar said that the level of intimidation had reached a height where senior police officers were lynched on streets of Srinagar, journalists who wrote against separatism were assassinated, military personnel returning home for Eid were being kidnapped and killed.

Taking a dig at Pakistan, the country he has earlier called terroristan, the minister said: “You have terrorism in different parts of world but there is no part of world where a country uses it consciously and deliberately as a large scale industry against its neighbour.”

The comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting with US president Donald Trump mentioned the history of Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir . Sources said that the PM used the meeting to successfully demolish Pakistan’s allegations regarding the Himalayan state.

The External Affairs Minister added that the issue was not whether to talk or not. ”Issue is how do I talk to a country that is conducting terrorism and follows a policy of implausible deniability.”

“You have a neighbour who will not allow you connectivity…who in many ways has slowed down regionalism because of concern that it might integrate them more with our economy…who filters people to people interaction. It’s a very challenging neighbor,” the minister added.

After Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status, Pakistan has been trying to raise the issue at international forums but, barring China, has not found any support. China had come out in support of Pakistan and even made a reference to Jammu and Kashmir in a joint statement with Islamabad. New Delhi firmly rejected the statement and said the two neighbours should stop work on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

At least 22 pro-independence activists were taken into custody by police in PoK’s Hajira.

Police had stopped thousands of participants of a “Freedom Long March” called by Sardar Mohammad Saghir-led faction of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in Dawarandi village of the Hajira area, when they were insisting to move ahead towards Tetrinote that lies in the closest proximity of the restive Line of Control (LoC).

Police resort to tear gas shelling to disperse marchers; 12 policemen injured in stone pelting, claims DIG

However, the marchers disregarded the commitment and insisted to go beyond the designated spot in Dawarandi, the DIG alleged. In the meanwhile, some of the marchers climbed the adjacent mountains and pelted stones on the police.

The DIG claimed that 12 police personnel were injured, one of them critically, due to stone pelting.

He admitted that police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the marchers, which rendered some of them unconscious for some time. They were rushed to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, Hajira, for treatment.

The DIF alleged that four ambulances which the administration had placed on standby were damaged by the activists.

He said 25 people were taken into custody after midnight, but three of them were released for not being involved in the activity.

JKLF sources said Sardar Saghir had managed to reach Tetrinote where local activists had set up a sit-in camp on Saturday. The sit-in continued on the second consecutive day on Sunday.

Speaking to the activists in Tetrinote, Mr Saghir demanded “restoration of the revolutionary government of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan” that he said was established on October 24, 1947.

“Pakistan should open the embassy of this government in Islamabad and then get it recognised from all friendly countries so that it may take the reins of freedom movement in its own hands,” he said.

The JKLF leader condemned the arrest of activists and demanded their immediate and unconditional release.

Alleging that the detainees had been “mercilessly” tortured by the police, he also called for a judicial probe into it.

21 year old Kashmiri boy selected for prestigious National Youth Icon Award 2019.

Muhammad Waseem Bhat is a 21 year old civil services aspirant from Lolab kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir .

Waseem Bhat holds a bachelor’s degree in English Honours from University of Delhi. Waseem Bhat has five social internships at his disposal among which swachh Bharat Summer internship is a major one and is currently working as IYC climate Ambassador & Global Peace Ambassador of India.

Waseem Bhat has a contribution in a book titled as “Rediscovering Indira today” and has won several state and national level competitions.

Apple traders, others get warning in Shopian by Terror outfits.

Terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has warned apple growers of Kashmir not to send their produce to Indian markets, threatening them with dire consequences. The terror warning came through posters and pamphlets in Shopian, signed by Hizbul commander Naveed Babu alias Babar Azam.

The posters ask the transporters, mandis, local shop owners and other business establishments not to carry out their business activities.

The poster also asks all shopkeepers to keep their business activities shut. “Violators will have to pay a heavy penalty”, the poster said.

Petrol pump owners have been asked to close their outlets, and have been threatening with blasts if they violate the ‘order’.

Similar threats have been issued to educational institutions – schools, colleges, universities, asking them not to open.

The warning came after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said that majority of Kashmiris support the abrogation of Article 370, and that restrictions in Kashmir were to prevent Pakistan from creating mischief through proxies and terrorists.

NSA Doval says totally convinced most Kashmiris support abrogation of Article 370.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said on Saturday he is “fully convinced” that a majority of Kashmiris support the abrogation of Article 370, and affirmed that restrictions in Kashmir are aimed at preventing Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists.

Article 370 “was not a special status. It was a special discrimination. With its abrogation we have brought Kashmiris on par with Indians,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interaction with a select group of journalists, Doval said restrictions have anyway been eased progressively, and only 10 of the 199 police districts in Kashmir, Jammu and Laddakh now still have prohibitory orders, while landline telephones have been restored fully in all three areas.

On the political detentions, he said they are preventive in nature and very much allowed under the law, which means the government is answerable to courts and will have to pay a heavy penalty if it has done anything extra-judicial.

“I am fully convinced that a majority of Kashmirs totally support the abrogation of Article 370,” Doval said. In the removal of Article 370, announced on August 5, “they (Kashmiris) see greater opportunities, a better future, more jobs for youths,” he said.

“There is a vocal minority that opposes it. It appears to people that that is the voice of the people. That is not necessarily true,” he told the journalists, comprising Indian and foreign media.

He said Pakistan is bent on creating trouble in Kashmir, and would very much like to see unrest in the valley, which would add grist to its anti-India propaganda. In a bid to achieve that aim, Pakistan has sent many terrorists into Kashmir with the intent of causing trouble, and to ensure that normalcy is not restored.

“If anybody is interested in restoring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, it is India,” he said. “We will not allow people to become victims of Pakistan’s machinations and its bullets sent across the border. We will do everything in power to protect the people,” he said.

Questioned about the alleged human rights abuses by the Army, Doval pointed out that it is only the local police and central paramilitary forces that are deployed to maintain law and order. So, there is no question of atrocities by the Army, whose job is only to fight terrorists.

He said according to intelligence reports some 230 terrorists were recorded in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, some of whom have sneaked across the border to create trouble, which includes intimidating traders and local populace to prevent them from going about their business.

He cited the case of two Punjabi-speaking terrorists whose conversations with their Pakistani handlers were intercepted in which they were reprimanded for not doing their job properly, and warned that Pakistan would send them bangles if they didn’t do something quickly.

Thereafter, the two men went to the residence of a prominent fruit merchant in Sopore, Hamidullah Rather, to intimidate him on Friday, Not finding him at home, the terrorists shot and injured his 25-year-old son, Mohammad Irshad, in the thigh, and Irshad’s 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter Asma Jaan, who is critical, Doval said.

She will be brought to New Delhi for treatment, he said.

“Terror is the only instrument Pakistan has to create unrest in Kashmir,” he said, adding that normalcy in Kashmir can be restored if “Pakistan starts behaving” and stops “indulging in subversive propaganda.”

Asked what India will do if Pakistan continues with its ways, Doval said “there is a solution to every problem.” He did not elaborate.

Doval justified the restrictions imposed on mobile phone and Internet services, saying they can easily be used by Pakistan and terrorists for subversive activities, but the denial of these services should not prevent people from going about their lives.

“Even before Internet came into our lives, people were going about their lives doing business,” he said, while acknowledging that people are unhappy with these restrictions.

“In any society, people always want more than what they have. But to us his life is more important,” he said adding that 92.5 per cent of the geographical area of Jammu & Kashmir is now without restrictions.

Reflecting the government thinking, Doval said Article 370 was nothing but a millstone around the necks of Kashmir, and was preventing the people there from having equal rights that other Indians had. For example, the article prevented many laws from being applied to Kashmir, such as right to education, women’s rights, minimum wages.

Article 370 was only a tool of the political class to make money through corruption, he said. “For the common man there was nothing.” (Times Of India).