The Statesman – Sidhu, Chidambaram raise questions on air strike casualties

New Delhi – India, 04 March 2019. The Congress on Monday again demanded that the actual number of terrorists killed in the IAF air strike be revealed while accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of politicising the operation.

Congress leader and minister in the Punjab government Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday raised questions on the air strike and media reports that around 300 terrorists had been killed in the operation carried out on 26 February.

“300 terrorist dead, Yes or No? What was the purpose then? Were you uprooting terrorist or trees? Was it an election gimmick?” Sidhu wrote on Twitter.

“Deceit possesses our land in guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Stop politicising the army, it is as sacred as the state,” he added.

The Statesman – Kulbhushan Jadhav case updates from ICJ, to resume on Tuesday

Pakistan said Jadhav was a serving commander in the Indian Navy and was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan.

New Delhi – India, 18 February 2019. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is holding a public hearing in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case from Monday at The Hague, Netherlands, where India and Pakistan are presenting their respective arguments before the top UN court.

The public hearing is expected to go on for four days.

The Indian side is being represented by Harish Salve, while, for Pakistan, Khawar Qureshi will present the case.

The hearing comes three days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel lost their lives. Since then, the relations between the two South Asian neighbours are under great strain.

Kulbhushan Jadhav case:

Kulbhushan Jadhav is an Indian national. The Pakistan government claims that he was arrested on March 3, 2016, during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan, on charges of “terrorism and spying” for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

While Indian foreign ministry contended that Jadhav had been “kidnapped from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly.”

Pakistan said Jadhav was a serving commander in the Indian Navy and was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan. The Indian government acknowledged Jadhav as a former naval officer but denied any current links with him and maintained that he took premature retirement and was abducted from Iran.

A Field General Court Martial in Pakistan sentenced Jadhav to death on April 10, 2017, which was stayed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 18 May 2017.

Harish Salve, starting his argument, told the ICJ that Pakistan has no substantive defence and is indulging in malicious acts, adding that Pakistan’s acts are “an egregious violation of the Vienna Convention”.

The main points made by Harish Salve:

  • Jadhav’s continued custody without consular access should be declared unlawful
  • There is no manner of doubt that Pakistan was using this as a propaganda tool. Pakistan was bound to grant consular access without delay
  • On 30th March 2016, India reminded Pakistan of its request of consular access (for Jadhav) and received no reply. Thirteen reminders were sent by India on various dates
  • On 19th June 2017, India responded to the request for assistance in the investigation and pointed that not only Jadhav had been denied consular access but no credible evidence have been provided by Pakistan to show his involvement in any act of terrorism and his (Jadhav’s) purported confession clearly appears to be coaxed. India reminded Pakistan that it’s Pakistan government which hasn’t ratified SAARC convention on legal assistance in criminal matters
  • Pakistan offered to allow Jadhav’s family to visit him, the terms were agreed and the meeting was held on 25th December, 2017. India was dismayed at the manner the meeting with Jadhav’s family was conducted and wrote a letter on 27 December marking its protest
  • Pakistan should’ve provided a substantial explanation for why it needed 3 months for providing consular access, upon which it could’ve claimed that it has complied with treaty obligation. Even on erroneous premise that para 4 applies, Pakistan hasn’t complied treaty obligations
  • If article 36 grants rights of consular access in all cases including where allegations of such kind are leveled, then demanding those can’t be an abuse of those rights
  • I would invite this court to keep in mind the relief to be granted in the backdrop of the fact that his trial has been conducted by a military court
  • Pakistan’s conduct doesn’t inspire confidence that Jadhav can get justice there. Pakistan has in custody an Indian national who has been publicly portrayed to be a terrorist and Indian agent creating unrest in Balochistan. Pakistan used Jadhav to build a narrative against India
  • India invites the court to restrain Pakistan from acting on conviction on the ground that it was secured by means which was in violation of Article 36 of Vienna Convention and in the present case, relief of review and re-consideration would be highly inadequate, considering facts and circumstances
  • India submits that military courts of Pakistan can’t command the confidence of this court and shouldn’t be sanctified by a direction to them to review and re-consider the case. India seeks annulment of Jadhav’s conviction and directions that he be released forthwith

Proceedings adjourned in the International Court of Justice for Tuesday, 19 February.

The Statesman – Social activist seeks unseating of Farooq Abdullah from Lok Sabha

Khajuria urged the speaker that since it was an urgent and important matter, it should be taken up on a priority basis and action initiated against Abdullah as the term of the 16th Lok Sabha was nearing completion.

S P Sharma

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 10 February 2019. A social activist, Sukesh Khajuria, has sought the disqualification of Farooq Abdullah from the Lok Sabha for allegedly making “seditious” remarks pertaining to Kashmir.

Khajuria has written a letter to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expedite the complaint against Abdullah which he made earlier. Earlier, the speaker had referred the complaint to the Committee on Petitions of Parliament, Khajuria said.

Khajuria urged the speaker that since it was an urgent and important matter, it should be taken up on a priority basis and action initiated against Abdullah as the term of the 16th Lok Sabha was nearing completion.

Khajuria had filed the complaint on the basis of news reports in which Abdullah had reportedly said that Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) now belongs to Pakistan while the other side belongs to India.

The Statesman – Tension prevails in Saharanpur district after Ambedkar statue desecrated

A crowd of angry Dalits gathered near the statue, demanding immediate arrest of those involved in the act.

Swati Sharma

Meerut – Uttar Pradesh – India, 03 February 2019. Tension prevailed in Talheri Khurd village of Deoband area in Saharanpur district on Sunday morning after a statue of Dr Bheem Rao Ambedkar was desecrated by unknown people.

A crowd of angry Dalits gathered near the statue, demanding immediate arrest of those involved in the act.

SP (Rural) Saharanpur Vidya Sagar Misra said that a case has been registered against unidentified people and the police have started an investigation. “Those involved in the act would soon be identified and arrested,” said the SP.

On Sunday morning, the villagers observed that one hand of the statue was damaged. This agitated them and they demanded an immediate arrest of those responsible for the act of vandalism.

As soon as the news of the incident reached the police, sub-divisional magistrate of Deoband Ritu Punia and circle officer Siddharth Singh rushed to the spot and tried to pacify angry Dalits. They assured the villagers of taking stern action against the miscreants and also promised to get the damaged statue replaced with a new one.

Saharanpur district has a notorious history of caste-related clashes, especially involving the Dalits who form a major chunk of the population here.

In May 2017, Dalit-Rajput clashes led to large scale violence in the district. The Bheem Army, which is a Dalit organisation, is also active in the district. Its chief, Chandra Shekhar alias Ravana, was arrested and booked under NSA at that time and was released a few months back.

The Statesman – India questions rush to declare climate change as international security issue

India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.

United Nations – New York – USA, 26 January 2019. India has questioned the rush at the UN to declare climate change an international security issue, potentially giving the Security Council the right to take action on it, and pointed out the pitfalls in the approach.

A “mere decision of the Council” to takeover enforcement of climate change action would disrupt the Paris Agreement and multilateral efforts to find solutions, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Friday.

India has been wary of the Council’s mission creep as it tries to extend its reach beyond what is allocated in the UN Charter by redefining other issues, even as it struggles to fulfil its primary functions.

Taking aim at the composition of the Council that does not reflect the contemporary world, Akbaruddin asked: “Can the needs of climate justice be served by shifting climate law-making from the inclusive UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) to decision-making by a structurally unrepresentative institution with an exclusionary approach decided in secretive deliberations?”

He said the main point of contention “is about what manner, which aspects and which global governance mechanisms are best suited to tackle these phenomena” and India favoured a cautious approach.

The Council was discussing the impact of climate-related disasters on international peace and security after the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace building Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said the trends of heat waves, heavier rain events, higher sea levels and severe damage to agriculture “represent a security risk for the entire world”.

“The relationship between climate-related risks and conflict is complex and often intersects with political, social, economic and demographic factors,” she said.

Akbaruddin pointed out that the UNFCC had found that “the evidence on the effect of climate change and variability on violence is contested”.

Making climate change an international security issue, he said “may help heighten public awareness. It may even help in surmounting opposition. But securitisation also carries significant downsides”.

Taking a security approach brings “overly militarised solutions to problems, which inherently require non-military responses”.

“It brings the wrong actors to the table. As the saying goes, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’.”

Akbaruddin questioned if climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies could be carried out by enforcement actions of the Council as it was supposed to do with terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Would those who fail to their obligations under the Paris Agreement to cut their emissions or fail to provide obligatory financing for climate change programmes be be held accountable for climate change, he asked.

The US, a permanent member of the Council, has pulled out of the Paris Agreement and has cut back on aid for countering climate change.

Akbaruddin said that India supports cooperation and action that are consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to prevent and address serious disasters linked to climate.

The Statesman – 1984 anti-Sikh riots: Supreme Court notice to CBI on Sajjan Kumar’s plea challenging Delhi H C order

The Delhi High Court on December 17 convicted Sajjan Kumar and sentenced him to life imprisonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

New Delhi – India, 14 January 2019. The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on an appeal filed by former Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar challenging the Delhi High Court verdict convicting and sentencing him to life imprisonment for criminal conspiracy to commit murder in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjay Krishan Kaul sought a response from the probe agency and posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.

Sajjan Kumar had on December 31 surrendered in Delhi’s Karkardooma Court and was sent to the Mandoli jail in east Delhi.

Earlier on December 21, the high court had dismissed Sajjan Kumar’s plea which sought more time to surrender. Kumar had moved an application before the Delhi High Court seeking 30 days to surrender, saying he had to settle family affairs.

The Delhi High Court on December 17 convicted Sajjan Kumar and sentenced him to life imprisonment in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, describing the mass killings as “crimes against humanity”.

The case relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar part II during that period.

Reversing the acquittal order of the trial court, the high court held him guilty of the crime and ordered him to surrender.

Besides Kumar, Captain Bhagmal, Girdhari Lal and former Congress councillor Balwan Khokhar were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Kishan Khokkar and former legislator Mahender Yadav were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The 1984 riots followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984. Hundreds of innocent Sikhs were killed, mainly in Delhi.

According to reports, over 3000 people were killed in the riots in and outside Delhi.

The Statesman – Supreme Court reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Director, without full powers

Apex court says any further decision against Verma will be taken by the high-powered committee that selects and appoints CBI Director.

New Delhi – India, 08 January 2019. The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Alok Verma as CBI Director, setting aside the Centre’s decision to divest him of his powers as the head of the premier investigating agency and sending him on leave.

The judgment comes days before Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI Director ends on January 31.

Pronouncing the judgment on a petition filed by Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the government’s decision taken on the intervening night of October 23 and 24, the apex court, however, said the officer would “cease and desist” from taking from taking any “major policy” decision until the Central Vigilance Commission inquiry into corruption charges against him was over.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph also said any further decision against Verma would be taken by the high-powered committee that selects and appoints CBI Director. Justice Kaul said the selection committee would meet within seven days from Tuesday.

The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

The court also set aside the Centre’s decision appointing M Nageswara Rao, who was the CBI joint director, as its interim chief.

Rao was appointed the interim chief after Verma was sent on leave after being divested of his powers as CBI chief. The decision had come after the CBI registered an FIR against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, accusing him and DySP Devender Kumar of extortion and corruption. Devender Kumar had been arrested.

The feud between Verma and Asthana had become public as they levelled allegations of corruption against each other.

Tuesday’s judgment, penned by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, was read out by Justice Kaul and Justice Joseph as the CJI did not attend the court.

The Statesman – Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) refugees demand relief on par with Kashmiri Pandit migrants

PoK refugees are demanding implementation of the cash package of Rs 25 lakh for each refugee family that had been approved by the then National Conference-Congress coalition government in 2014

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 02 January 2019. The indefinite chain strike of refugees from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) demanding relief on par with Kashmiri Pandit migrants entered 7th day here on Wednesday. The sit-in strike has been organised by the SOS International, an organisation of PoK refugees.

Rajiv Chuni, President of the SOS International, said the BJP government at the Centre and the J&K government were treating the PoK refugees as children of lesser gods while Kashmiri Pandit migrants and their children were being provided cash incentives and reservation in professional institutions.

Chuni regretted that the government was discriminating against the PoK refugees vis-a-vis the Kashmiri Pandits. He said the current agitation was in support of the demand for implementing the cash package of Rs 25 lakh for each refugee family that was approved by the National Conference-Congress coalition government in 2014.

The Narendra Modi government cut the package to Rs 5.5 lakh, and there had been discrepancies in payment during the past nearly five years, he said.

Chuni demanded that the nearly 5,300 families of PoK refugees who had been settled in other states should also be registered as refugees as they had illegally been deleted from the list. He also demanded that the 8 500 posts reserved in government departments for PoK refugees by the then NC-Congress government should be filled up by giving employment to their wards.

The refugees were also demanding that at least eight seats out of the 24 reserved for PoK in the state Assembly should be earmarked for the PoK refugees who migrated here 71 years ago. The SOS International has also sent a representation to the election commission in this regard.

They are also demanding that the money left behind in the accounts of the refugees in the J&K Bank branch at Mirpur in PoK should be paid to them by the bank.

The Statesman – It is time for renaissance for Muslim community in India, says former AMU V-C

He said modern secular school education for the community is a must for its development.

Patna – Bihar – India, 21 December 2018. It is time for renaissance for the country’s Muslim community to develop itself and the nation, said Lt General (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, who was also Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, on Wednesday at a discussion on empowering young Muslims.

“I have been repeatedly requesting all to join us for the renaissance in the Muslim community,” said Shah in his keynote address at a day-long workshop on ‘Strategies and Approaches for Empowering Young Muslims, building Resilience, strengthening nation’ in Patna.

He said children belonging to the community must be given best school education and for this, the community should build schools with modern outlook with Islamic ethos on the lines of Christian missionaries-run institutions.

“We have set up a modern school in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. It is named Sir Syed National School. AMU students have donated Rs 51 lakh to build this school,” he said. “We hope to set up another similar school in Saharanpur”.

He said he was surprised when 40 Muslim families in Uttar Pradesh came forward to offer 2 acre each for setting up such schools in the state. “Government funds and other forms of assistance may come, but Muslims have to set up world-class schools for children. Other communities have done so,” he said.

Shah said the condition of the Muslim community today is similar to what it was in 1857. “The community is marginalised, impoverished, victimised and at the bottom of development indicators,” he said.

“But fault for this pathetic situation of the community lies with us. We have neglected the importance of education, particularly modern education.”

Others prominent people who addressed the workshop included Venkatesh Srinivasan of UNFP, Sadur Rahman of UNICEF, Amir Subhani, principal secretary Minority Welfare, Bihar, and Dr A S Nakdar, founder of American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin.