The Statesman – RSS leader’s killing: Punjab is still under ‘jungle raj’, says Khaira

Chandigarh, 18 October 2017. A day after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Ravinder Gosain was killed by unidentified gunmen in Ludhiana, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday said the law and order in Punjab is no better than the 10 years of “jungle-raj” perpetrated by the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bhartiya Janata Party ( SAD-BJP).

He accused the Amarinder Singh government of pursuing the legacy of Badals by politicising the Punjab police for personal whims and fancies.

After visiting the the house of slain RSS leader at Ludhiana, leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, there have been repeated incidents of political murders during the last six months but the police is acting as a mute spectator.

Khaira said Congress ministers and legislator have started getting their henchmen posted to plum field postings, who in turn are taking their orders from their political bosses rather than their superior police officers.

Severely condemning the killing of Gosai and failure of the police to nab his killers, Khaira said it was not a first case of political murder in Punjab. He said couple of months back Sultan Masih a pastor was killed similarly by motorcycle assailants.

He recounted the brutal murders of Mata Chand Kaur of Bhaini Sahib, Jagdish Gagneja another RSS leader of Jalandhar, the murderous attack on Sant Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala, but he said the police has completely failed to crack any of these crime.

He also criticised Amarinder for failing to ensure justice to the two innocent Sikh youth killed in the Bargari police firing, a promise he had made to the people while in opposition.

Khaira said it was sad to note that two years have passed since the killing, but no justice has been rendered to the families of those youth.

He said the tall claims of industrial investment being made by the Chief Minister Amarinder have fallen flat, as no business house would invest in a state like Punjab, where prominent people are being murdered, gang wars and incidents of bank robberies are happening daily.

Khaira urged the CM to pull up his socks and direct the police to solve cases of political murders as top priority and in future prevent such killings. He also urged him to depoliticise the police and allow it to function without interference from politicians.


The Statesman – Aung San Suu Kyi calls for speedy rehabilitation measures in Rakhine

Yangon, 12 October 2017.

Myanmar’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for speeding up measures for humanitarian aid, rehabilitation, resettlement and development in the conflict-torn Rakhine state.

Citing Myanmar News Agency, Xinhua reported on Thursday that at a coordination meeting held at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday, Suu Kyi laid down the priorities for the government for effective implementation of the measures.

The move came one day after the government organised a trip of ambassadors of five neighbouring countries to conflicted areas of Rakhine state, led by Minister for the Office of the State Counselor U Kyaw Tint Swe.

Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu also said the government is pushing for the implementation of the tasks of rehabilitation in three areas, compilation of list, food supply for refugees and improvement of communication and transport.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched fresh attacks on police outposts in Rakhine on August 25, displacing residents from a number of areas in Maungdaw district.

The Statesman – Rape accused ex-Akali leader sent to police remand till 9 October

New Delhi, 4 October 2017. Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) minister Sucha Singh Langah was sent to police custody till 9 October on Wednesday.

Sucha Singh Langah was booked, 26 September, after a widow lodged a complaint that the Akali leader had raped her on several occasions and had threatened her not to disclose the matter to anybody.

Langah has been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 (rape), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code at the Gurdaspur City police station.

He had surrendered before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Mohit Bansal in Gurdaspur town in north Punjab on Monday.

“The victim filed an affidavit and gave a pen drive with a video recording to support her accusation”, SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar said.

Langah is the president of the Gurdaspur district unit of the SAD. The by-election for the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency will be held on October 11.

The Statesman – Deport Rohingya Muslims, save Hindus: VHP

New Delhi, 27 September 2017. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday urged the Narendra Modi government to deport Rohingya Muslims but grant refugee status to Rohingya Hindus and provide them a “secure and blissful life in India”.

The VHP’s International Joint General Secretary Surendra Kumar Jain said in a statement that Rohingya Hindus need to be seen in a different light from the Rohingya Muslims, who he alleged were “indulging in terrorist activities”.

“To handle the Muslim Rohingyas, the policy of ‘no more newcomers, oust the existing ones’ needs to be implemented,” he said.

He claimed that Rakhine’s Rohingya Hindus don’t want Indian citizenship but are ready to relocate to any Hindu or Buddhist majority area in Myanmar.

“It is the government’s moral and constitutional responsibility to grant them refugee status and provide a secure and blissful life in India,” he said.

“VHP also appeals to the central government to pressurise the Bangladesh government to provide security to the Rakhine Rohingya Hindus. The central government should appeal to the Myanmar government to relocate and settle the Rohingya Hindus to a safe place,” the statement added.

Jain said that a VHP delegation will meet the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as well as the envoys of Myanmar and Bangladesh to request them to take quick action for the security of Rohingya Hindus.

The Statesman – Divisive politics ruining India’s reputation abroad: Rahul

New York, 21 September 2017. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi took a strong hit at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, saying that “divisive politics” was ruining India’s reputation of peace and harmony abroad.

Speaking at an event on Wednesday here organised by the Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC), Gandhi said India has many religions and different languages and people have been able to live happily together because of the ideas of the Congress.

He said the single biggest thing that people asked him during his incumbent visit to the US was: “What happened to the tolerance that prevailed in India? What happened to the harmony?”

“For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged.

“There are forces in our country that are dividing the country. It is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad… Divisive politics is going on and it has to be fought,” Gandhi said.

“India’s reputation in the world is very important. The world is transforming and people are looking towards us.

“Many countries in a violent world are looking towards India and saying may be India has the answer for the 21st century, maybe India has the answer for peaceful coexistence.”

“So we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset. Our most powerful asset is that 1.3 billion people lived happily, non-violently, peacefully… This is something that as Congress people, every single one of us has to defend,” he added.

Gandhi said India belonged to all its people.

“I can see my Sikh brothers, I can see people from different states, India does not belong to any one of you. India belongs to this entire room, India belongs to single one of us and that is what the Congress party is.”

Gandhi said Congress as an organisation was more than a century old but Congress as an idea was thousands of years old.

“We do not represent an organisation, we represent a philosophy that is thousands and thousands of years old.”

He said the freedom fighters and people who sought to transform India had stood for the truth.

“It does not matter what is standing against them. When they believe in something and are convinced that it is truth, they stand up for it and pay the price for it. That is the Congress idea.”

Gandhi termed the Non-Resident Indians (NRI) “as the backbone of the country” and said he was keen to involve them in the work of the party to discuss its vision forward.

Referring to the challenges faced by the country, he said 30,000 youngsters were entering job market everyday but only 450 jobs were being created.

“This is the single biggest challenge in front of our country and it can be solved by building unified approach. India cannot give youngsters a vision if it is unable to give them jobs.”

He alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s focus was on 50-60 large companies and small businesses and entrepreneurs need to be empowered to create jobs.

The Congress leader said India has huge opportunities in the healthcare sector and added that developing cold chains will help increase incomes of farmers.

Gandhi said he had met leaders from the Democratic and Republican Party during his two week visit and was asked about the prevailing situation in the country.

“They have asked me what is going on in your country. We always believed that your country worked together, we always believed your country was peaceful. What is going on in your country,” he added.

Outside the event venue, a small group of Sikhs held a protest against the Congress Party’s role in the 1984 riots.

The Statesman – Kashmir situation outcome of Congress misrule: Jitendra Singh

Jammu, 12 September 2017. Union minister and senior BJP leader Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said the absence of peace in the Valley was a “cumulative outcome” of nearly half a century of “misrule” of the Congress.

He also lashed out at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “destroyed” the People’s Democratic Party by making an alliance with it.

“Whatever he (Rahul Gandhi) has said doesn’t reflect the popular sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir or people of India at large. In fact, it’s the Congress which has been over the years making opportunistic alliances alternately with one or the other regional party in Kashmir,” he added.

Singh said the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state has taken up the “herculean task” of restoring normalcy in the state.

“The absence of peace in the Valley was a cumulative outcome of nearly half a century of misrule of the Congress party,” he told reporters here.

He said the youth of the state are very keen on joining the path of development led by PM Modi.

“Look at the statistics we have. So many toppers from the militancy-affected areas. They know that their future lies with this caravan led by Modi and they don’t want to miss out on these opportunities,” he added.

Addressing students at the University of California, Berkeley, US, Gandhi had earlier said that when Congress-led UPA was in power, he worked with former prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior leaders like P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh to address the issues facing Jammu and Kashmir.

“By 2013, we basically broke the back of terror. I hugged the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and told him it was one of the biggest achievements,” he added.

He further said the PDP had been instrumental in bringing youngsters in politics, but the day Prime Minister Modi made alliance with the PDP, he “destroyed” it.

“So he (PM Modi) massively opened up the space for the terrorists in Kashmir, and you saw the increase in violence,” he added.

The Statesman – Rohingyas are illegal migrants, they need to be deported: Kiren Rijiju

New Delhi, 5 September 2017. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday defended the government’s decision to deport Rohingyas, saying they were illegal migrants who did not have same rights as any ordinary Indian.

He said that international organisations and human rights bodies were unfairly accusing the government of being harsh towards the Rohingyas.

“Let me make it very clear. Rohingyas are illegal migrants and not Indian citizens… So they are not entitled to anything that any ordinary Indian citizen is entitled to,” Rijiju told a press conference.

He said his statement in the Parliament regarding deportation of Rohingyas was based “completely on a legal position”.

“They are illegal migrants and as per law, they stand to be deported. So we have instructed all state governments to constitute task force to identify Rohingyas and start the process of deporting them.

“It’s a completely legal process,” Rijiju said.

However, he added, India is a nation with democratic tradition.

“We are not going to throw them in the middle of the ocean or going to shoot them. Why are we being accused of being very inhuman,” he asked adding that international human rights organisations were unnecessarily targeting the central government.

“India has absorbed maximum number of refugees in the world. So no one should teach India the lesson on how to deal with refugees,” he said.

Rijiju had earlier told Parliament that the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingyas.

The Statesman – New India-Bangladesh railway line to be commissioned by 2018-end

Agartala (Bengali: আগরতলা), capital of Tripura, 30 August 2017. The new India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura would be commissioned by next year-end and would be operational by January 2019, officials said here on Wednesday.

Senior officials of India and Bangladesh held a two-day meeting in Dhaka on Sunday and Monday, and visited the proposed locations of the railway project on Wednesday.

“The Dhaka meeting has decided to commission the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project by next year-end and it would be operational by January 2019,” Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik said here.

Bhowmik, who was part of the 14-member Indian delegation, said: “For the 15-km India-Bangladesh new railway line, land acquisition has already been completed on the Indian side and 50 per cent completed on the Bangladesh territory.”

“Work order has been given to the concerned agency to start the physical work of the project.”

West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Milind Ramteke, who is personally supervising the land acquisition and related work, said that of the total 72 acres of land, 49 acres has already been handed over to the railway authorities to start the work and the remaining land would be handed over soon.

The government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the five-km track on the Indian side while the remaining 10-km would be laid by the Bangladesh Railways on their side. The Indian government would bear the entire cost of the project.

In the Dhaka meeting, the Indian delegation was led by External Affairs Ministry’s Joint Secretary M Subbarayudu while the Bangladesh side was headed by the country’s Railway Ministry’s Secretary-in-Charge Mohammad Mofazzel Hossain.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway line would facilitate carriage of goods to and from both the countries and greatly benefit India’s land-locked northeastern states.

Also, the journey time between Agartala and Kolkata, via Bangladesh, would be reduced by a third, from 1,613-km through mountainous terrain to a mere 514 km.

Ramteke said that the Union government had released Rs 97.63 crore to acquire the land for the project, for which the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency.

The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.

The Statesman – AIADMK factions merge, Panneerselvam is TN deputy CM; Sasikala may be sacked

Chennai, 21 August 2017. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswamy and his predecessor O Panneerselvam on Monday joined hands at the AIADMK headquarters here, after the factions had split following the death of J Jayalalithaa. As per sources, Panneerselvam has been offered the post of deputy CM as part of the unification deal.

Sources said, the party leaders were unanimous on sacking jailed party chief VK Sasikala.

The announcement was made minutes after the duo arrived at the party headquarters at around 3 pm. Hectic parleys preceded their arrival, to sort out the last-minute differences that were delaying the merger.

Two senior ministers and a senior MP who are supporters of the Chief Minister went to Panneerselvam’s residence on Monday with a draft of the deal worked out between the two sides.

Panneerselvam was received enthusiastically at the party headquarters by AIADMK cadres who presented him stoles and bouquets. It was his first visit to the office after six months.

Hundreds celebrated the occasion by bursting firecrackers.

Panneerselvam was accompanied by his faction leaders including K P Munuswamy and K Pandiarajan.

Before his arrival, Chief Minister Palaniswamy held discussions with his colleagues including ministers K A Sengottaiyan and D Jayakumar.

Panneerselvam has demanded the expulsion of the now jailed Jayalalithaa aide V K Sasikala.

Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao arrived here on Monday afternoon for a possible swearing in ceremony in which Panneerselvam and some of his faction leaders may be sworn in as ministers.

Panneerselvam, who was thrice Chief Minister, may get the Deputy Chief Minister’s post.

The faction headed by T T V Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, has warned against his own and Sasikala’s sacking as Deputy General Secretary and General Secretary of the AIADMK. Dinakaran is said to enjoy the support of a dozen MLAs.

Meanwhile, Panneerselvam has taken oath as deputy CM in the evening.

The Statesman – Sonia calls for fighting communal forces

New Delhi, 15 August 2017. Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday stressed the need for speaking in unison against separatism and terrorism as well as divisive and communal forces and to unite to protect India’s fundamental values.

In her message on the 71st Independence Day, she greeted people on the occasion and said: “My prayer to God is that the country keeps making progress and all of us always have pride as its citizens.”

The Congress chief unfurled the Tricolour at the All India Congress Committee headquarters here, where party Vice- President Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders including Manmohan Singh, A K Antony, Sheila Dikshit and Motilal Vora were present.