The Times of India – Rijiju: Will help UK deport illegal Indian migrants

Naomi Canton

London-England-UK, 13 January 2018. India has agreed to assist the UK in deporting illegal Indian immigrants while London has agreed to work to stop Kashmiri and Sikh radicals active on British soil.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said here on Friday that he had “initialled” two MoUs with his UK counterparts that would be signed when PM Modi visits London in April for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

While the first MoU dealt with illegal Indian immigrants, the other related to sharing criminal records. Indian deputy high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik explained there were “some few thousand” illegal Indian immigrants in the UK.

“A few illegal migrants create a situation where legal migration becomes a political issue. The idea is to allow illegal migrants to go back so that legal migration becomes easier,” he said. “When they find somebody we will help identify them and then we will help them to go back to India,” Patnaik said.

Khalistan is no more an issue in India but some fringe groups in the UK keep creating problems.”

The UK government has assured us they would take care of such issues… and ensure anti-India activities, also by Kashmiri separatists, are not allowed in the UK,” said Rijiju, who is here on the invitation of Brandon Lewis, former immigration minister and now chairman of the Conservative Party.

Rijiju also said the UK was keen to learn from India how to counter radicalisation among Muslims. He pointed out that India had the world’s second-largest Muslim population but radicalisation was negligible because of an “effective counter-radicalisation process”.

Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu is also in the UK for meetings with his UK counterparts and industrialists to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, from increasing trade to encouraging British SMEs’ entry into India.

A joint event in India was being planned to bring together startups in India with UK innovation companies to find ways to work together. “They need not be physically present, they can do business with each other through the virtual world,” he said.

Italics by Man in Blue


The Hindustan Times – Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is temporary: RSS leader Indresh Kumar

Terrorist activities have reduced in Jammu and Kashmir due to the government’s policies and efforts to bring youths to the mainstream are yielding positive results, said RSS leader Indresh Kumar.

Jaipur-Rajastan-India, 11 January 2018. The status of article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is “temporary”, RSS leader Indresh Kumar said on Thursday as he stressed that the occupation of Indian land by China and Pakistan was unconstitutional.

India was suffering from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and secessionism and over 66,000 people had lost their lives since 1972 due to this, he said.

According to a statement issued here, the senior RSS leader said that article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was “temporary”. He was in the city today to attend the Yuva Sansad 2018.

“Terrorist activities have reduced due to the policies of government and separatist leaders are in jails. Efforts to bring youths in Jammu and Kashmir to the mainstream are yielding positive results,” he claimed.

On the Ram temple in Ayodhya issue, he said that even Muslims did not want a mosque to be built at the site as there are rules for construction of mosques.

The RSS leader, who has often made controversial remarks in the past, claimed the occupation of land by Shias and Sunnis was immoral.

Muslims in Ayodhya concede that occupying the land was a mistake by their ancestors and there was no need to have a mosque in the name of Babar, the statement said.

Kumar claimed that China had to bow down to India under diplomatic pressure on the Doklam issue. He said that war with China was not a solution to the problem.

He also said that the occupation by China and Pakistan of Indian territory was unconstitutional. – Why Hindus cannot be seen as a religious minority in Kashmir (or anywhere else in India)

Population is not the only criterion.

Op/Ed, 24 December 2017. The Supreme Court this month heard a petition asking for a minorities commission to be set up in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plea, filed by Ankur Sharma, a lawyer in Jammu, contended that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians were unable to access benefits meant for minorities in the state where 68.3% of the population is Muslim.

Sharma’s plea came after a lawyer-leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, petitioned the apex court to direct the central government to confer minority status on Hindus in seven states, including Jammu and Kashmir, and a Union Territory.

On the advice of a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Upadhyay later withdrew his petition and approached the National Commission for Minorities, which is reportedly considering the matter. Central to both cases is this question: can the majority community be seen as a religious minority in any part of the country?

A community’s minority status is relevant mainly for accessing specific welfare schemes. This should not be a bone of contention: the Supreme Court has already ruled that such schemes launched by the Centre are for national-level minorities while local schemes would cover the state-level minorities.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Sharma argued that in the absence of a minority commission in Jammu and Kashmir, “crores worth aid are being given away to a certain community, which is the majority Muslim community, in an illegal and arbitrary manner”.

No matter how they are designated in the state, Muslims, as a national minority, would continue to be beneficiaries of central minority welfare schemes.

As for directing the state government to establish a minorities commission, the court pointed out that it does not have the power to do so.

Since Jammu and Kashmir does not fall within the purview of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, a state minorities commission must be set up through legislation by the Assembly or an administrative order by the government.

Hindus as a minority

Upadhyay’s petition directly asks for recognising Hindus as a religious minority in certain states. If the petitioner’s idea has his party’s support it is intriguing.

Two decades ago, as chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, I personally prepared a special report titled “Hindu Minorities in India”, written after visiting the states concerned and hearing local Hindu leaders.

My report, recommending state-level minority status for Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab, was endorsed by the Commission and submitted to the central government, then led by the BJP. But it was pooh-poohed by the party’s stalwarts and cold-shouldered by the government.

In the Constitution, Article 29 proclaims that “any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have a right to conserve the same”.
Article 30 recognises the right of a religious or linguistic minority to establish and administer educational institutions. Read together, the two provisions may be taken as the constitutional charter for religious and linguistic minorities at all levels.

The Constitution does not specify a mechanism for identifying groups of citizens covered by either of these provisions. The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, confined in application to religious minorities, does not list them either; it only states that for the purposes of the Act the word “minorities” means communities “notified as such” by the central government.

A notification issued under this provision in 1993 proclaimed Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis as minorities.

The Jains protested against their exclusion and, on taking over as the Commission’s chairman, I took the position that since the Constitution and the laws bracket Jains with Buddhists and Sikhs, the government had two options: either drop Buddhists and Sikhs from the list or to extend it to Jains.

Fifteen years later, the government went for the second option – on the persistent demand of some Jain leaders, the 1993 notification was modified to include their community among the minorities.

Population not the only criterion

If population is to be the sole yardstick to accord minority status at state level, Hindus are a minority in Christian-dominated Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland; Sikh-dominated Punjab; Muslim-dominated Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep as I pointed out in my report of 1998.

Upadhyay, in his petition, additionally counted Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur among Hindu-minority states, which is questionable. Hindu are less than 50% in these states but so are all other communities, and the difference in population between Hindus and Christians is miniscule.

Population, however, is not the only criterion for a religious community to be seen as a minority.

A 1977 report of the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities defined minority as “a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members – being nationals of the State – possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if not implicitly, a sense of solidarity directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language”.

If each of these criteria is to be meticulously applied, Hindus, the national majority, would not be seen as a minority anywhere in India.

The legal position is that the National Commission for Minorities too has no power to declare any community to be a minority; it can only make a recommendation in this regard to the government.

My 1998 report remains on record and, considering it, the Centre or a state government may take whatever action they deem fit in respect of state-level Hindu minorities. No well-wisher of the community needs to go to the apex court or the minorities commission for this purpose.

Tahir Mahmood is a professor of law, former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and ex-member of the Law Commission of India.

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The Indian Express – Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue at UNSC, links it to Palestinian crisis

“The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continue to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces,” said Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi.

United Nations, New York, 21 December 2017. Pakistan has once again raked up the Kashmir issue at the Security Council by trying to link it to the Palestinian crisis.

“Longstanding, internationally recognised disputes of Palestine and J&K continue to fester,” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi told the Council on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming General Assembly emergency session on Jerusalem.

Having failed so far to get any international interest in Islamabad’s version of the Kashmir dispute, she brought in the Kashmir reference while speaking of “efforts to change the status of Jerusalem” because of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise it as Israel’s capital and move Washington’s embassy there.

“The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continue to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continues to watch without addressing these egregious situations.

All resolutions of the Security Council must be implemented uniformly and non-selectively,” she said in a reference to a 1948 resolution of the Council on Kashmir. “Selective implementation weakens multilateralism and the credibility of the UN,” Lodhi said.

India maintains that the resolution has been made redundant by the march of history. The plebiscite proposed in the resolution could not be held because Pakistan would not withdraw its troops from areas it occupied, and since then Kashmiris have elected their legislators and leaders.

Moreover, the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan stipulates that all disputes should be settled bilaterally, precluding third party intervention. India did not respond to Lodhi’s comments. It has generally ignored attempts by Pakistan to talk about Kashmir at the UN as all member nations do not take notice of them.

One of those attempts in September, after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the General Assembly, backfired when Lodhi held up picture of an injured Palestinian girl claiming she was a Kashmiri.

Amid ridicule, Indian diplomat Paulomi Tripathi pointed out that Lodhi had “callously” exploited the picture of a Palestinian girl “to divert attention from Pakistan’s role as the hub of global terrorism”.

Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue at UNSC, links it to Palestinian crisis

India Today – Shocker to Kashmiri Hindus, Mehbooba says no plans to set up minority commission

Jammu-Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti told Supreme Court that there is no plan to set up minority commission in the state

Harish V Nair

New Delhi, 12 December 2017. The Mehbooba Mufti government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has no plans to set up a minority commission in Jammu and Kashmir, a statement that comes as a jolt to Hindus who comprise 28.4% of the state’s population, apart from other communities.

An affidavit to this effect has been filed in response to public interest litigation (PIL) by a Jammu-based lawyer Ankur Sharma. The petitioner contended that in the absence of such a panel, benefits exclusively meant for minority communities like Hindus and Sikhs, including aid worth crores, are being given away to the Muslim community in an “illegal and arbitrary” manner.

Virtually ruling out setting up of the commission, the state government said implementation of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 is not binding and is the sole prerogative of the state legislature.

“The state government will however consider and examine the need and feasibility of setting up of State Minority Commission at the relevant point of time as and when need arises based upon the critical study of the social and educational backwardness of the minorities spread across various regions of Jammu and Kashmir,” reads the affidavit.

It merely says that “considering the special needs of minorities as are residing in the state, a special project “Chief Minister’s Inclusive Development Initiative” is being formulated by the state government.

The project will have focused development efforts for certain segments of the society and will include upgrading civic infrastructure such as health, education, water, etc and scholarship scheme for students not covered under the schemes of ministry of minority affairs.

The Chief Justice Dipak Misraled bench too said it cannot direct the state legislature to legislate for formation of minority commission and asked the Centre to “deliberate” on it.

“How can we ask or direct the state legislature to legislate in a particular manner. The Centre says they will deliberate on it and get back to this court,” CJI Misra told Sharma.

The petitioner said according to the 2011 census, about 68.3 per cent of the state’s population is Muslim. Among the minorities, 28.4 per cent are Hindus, followed by Sikhs (1.9 per cent), Buddhists (0.9 per cent), and Christians (0.3 per cent). In Kashmir valley, about 96.4 per cent are Muslims, followed by Hindus (2.45 per cent), Sikhs (0.98 per cent) and others (0.17 per cent).

Sharma argued that Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir are unable to benefit from central and state welfare schemes for minorities. CJI Misra’s predecessor J S Khehar had however adopted a different stand.

He had in March asked the Centre and state government why a panel is not being constituted to protect the rights of minorities in the state.

“It is a very very important subject the manner in which the whole issue has emerged this has to be kept in mind if some protection has to be extended to a particular community who will do it other than you?” Khehar had asked additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Modi government and had merely said that the demand is being “looked into”.

Mehta and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium were directed to ensure that representatives of the Centre and state government sit together and sort out the issue.

Questioning the petitioner’s motive and opposing the creation of a minority commission, the state government affidavit also says, “The states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Andaman, and several UTs have not set up minority commissions.

The present petition only seeks its establishment in J&K. In case the present petition has been filed in public interest, he should have prayed for its setting up in all these states.” – Punjab Police arrests another Sikh youth from Jammu

Sikh24 Editors

Jammu-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 3 December 2017. The Baghapurana police on December 1 arrested a Sikh youth from Jammu after obtaining arrest warrants from the Magistrate in an FIR No. 193/16 registered in the Police station of Baghapurana.

Jagjit Singh is the third Sikh youth from Jammu who has been arrested in this case following the arrest of Tarlok Singh Laddi and his cousin brother Taljit Singh Jimmy.

It is learnt that the Baghapurana police raided onto Jagjit Singh’s home in Shastri Nagar of Jammu on December 1 and arrested him. When the local Sikh representatives asked the Police to clarify the reason for arresting Jagjit Singh, they didn’t provide any reasoning.

Following this, the local Sikh activists staged protests in Jammu by blockading the traffic on road.

Sources have informed that the Police took away his laptop, mobile and cash from his office.

Last year Tarlok Singh Laddi was arrested in this case following which the Police got apprised of Taljit Singh Jimmy who was residing in UK. As soon as Taljit Singh arrived in India during October this year he was arrested. Other arrests were made shortly after this.

Dawn – ‘I am fighting for the freedom of Pakistan and Kashmir’, Hafiz Saeed says after release

Idrees Sheikh

Lahore-Panjab-Pakistan, 24 November 2017. Addressing a sermon at Lahore’s Jamia Masjid Al Qadsia a day after walking free, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed said on Friday that he is “fighting for the freedom of Pakistan and Kashmir”.

The JuD chief claimed that he had been placed under house arrest for fighting for the rights of Kashmiris and suggested that the country’s leaders are making decisions under external pressure.

“If the leaders of the Pakistan start making their own decisions, they will no longer face external pressure”, the leader of the proscribed group said.

The JuD chief said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted because he had betrayed the people of Kashmir. He further alleged that India is involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

“Peace cannot be established in Pakistan if terrorists such as Kulbashan Jadhav continue to enter the country,” Saeed said, referring to the Indian spy who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and terrorism.

Washington ‘deeply concerned’

Also on Friday, Washington said it was “deeply concerned” with the release of the JuD chief, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities.

“Lashkar-e-Taiba is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens”, US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said, referring to the party which is considered to be a front for JuD.

“The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes”, Nauert added.

A day earlier, India had slammed the release of the JuD chief, whose 300-day house arrest 30-day detention expired on Thursday at midnight.

India claims that the JuD head was the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead. Ten gunmen, including Ajmal Kasab, had gone on a killing spree in the city after reaching the city from Karachi by sea, India says.

The Hindu – Separatist Alam Bhat faces 36th Public Safety Act (PSA)

Special Correspondent

Jammu-Jammu&Kashmir-India, 17 November 2017. Separatist leader and Muslim League head Masrat Alam Bhat was held under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on Wednesday for the 36th time and shifted to Jammu’s Kotbalwal Jail.

The J&K High Court had quashed the detention of Bhat under the PSA. However, a fresh PSA order was issued on Wednesday evening by the Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, in an old case as “the government perceives him as a threat to peace of State”.

Mr Alam, behind bars since 2015, had been shifted to a Kupwara jail recently. He has over 29 FIRs against him, including cases of “waging war against the state”.

“The government has been sending us a clear message that court orders don’t matter to them and they do whatever they like to do. We are not surprised as it is the practice of the government to choke the voice and crush the sentiments of people,” a Muslim League spokesperson said.

The Statesman – J-K interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma briefs Rajnath about dialogue

New Delhi, 15 November 2017. The Centre’s special representative for a sustainable dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma, who undertook a five-day visit to the state, briefed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday on the first round of talks he had with various sections of the society there last week.

Sharma made his presentation at a core group meeting, chaired by Rajnath Singh for a security review of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and top brass of Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, National Investigation Agency and para-military forces.

In the meeting, Sharma informed the Home Minister about the response that he got during his meetings with different sections of society, including political parties, student organisations, and social and religious groups in Jammu and Kashmir as well as those from the Jammu Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Jammu Bar Association, representatives of West Pakistan refugees and others.

The former spy chief also shared the major concerns voiced by those he had met during the visit.

Sources said Sharma also highlighted the role of the media and its impact on the narrative in Kashmir.

Sharma was tight-lipped when the media asked him about his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir and on the review meeting. He said he would go to Jammu and Kashmir soon to continue his mission of holding a sustained dialogue process.

An old Kashmir hand, Sharma, who had served in the state with the Intelligence Bureau from 1992-94 when militancy was at its peak, kickstarted his exercise in Srinagar by talking to representatives of about half-a-dozen apolitical organisations and others and later for two days in Jammu.

Sharma, who has the rank of Cabinet Secretary, called on former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and held discussions with him.

The News – Pakistan Rangers, India’s BSF meeting concludes

Rawalpindi-Panjab-Pakistan, 11 November 2017. The three-day 44th meeting between Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Force (BSF) ended in New Delhi with a resolve to protect the lives of innocent civilians across LOC on Friday, ISPR statement said.

Security forces of both countries have made “serious endeavours” to resolve issues related to border management at post, company and battalion levels by encouraging local commanders to work in cooperation, Pakistan Army’s media wing said in a press release.

According to ISPR, the leadership of Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Forces (BSF) have come to a conclusion that the spirit of a 2003 ceasefire agreement must be revived to protect the lives of innocent civilians, as unprovoked firing across LOC often claims lives of women and children.

The meeting was held in a highly congenial and conducive atmosphere, which also discussed the measures to effectively check smuggling and border crossings from both sides,” statement said.

The leadership of both the forces also talked about speeding up the repatriation process of fishermen detained in Indian prisons due to inadvertent border crossings, in order to reunite the affected.