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J&K issue: India says Art. 370 internal matter, asks Pakistan to review decision to downgrade ties

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J&K issue: India says Art. 370 internal matter, asks Pakistan to review decision to downgrade ties

Responding to Pakistan’s announcement that it was downgrading diplomatic relations with India over scrapping of Jammu-Kashmir’s special status, India reacted calmly but firmly today (Thursday, Aug 8).

Rather than resorting to a retaliatory step, India regretted Pakistan’s move and urged it to review its decision so that “normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved” and said the Pakistani actions were aimed at presenting an “alarmist picture to the world.”

“The Government of India regrets the steps announced by Pakistan yesterday and would urge that country to review them so that normal channels of communications are preserved,” it said.

India reiterated that its decision pertaining to Article 370 is an internal matter, adding that it was not surprised that developmental initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir are “negatively perceived” in Pakistan.

“The recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely the internal affair of India. The Constitution of India was, is and will always be a sovereign matter. Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Pakistan yesterday expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad and announced a downgrade of its ties with India and suspension of bilateral trade, in response to Indian government’s decision to scrap the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan also said it would not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.

The Pakistan National Security Council (NSC) called India’s move to revoke Article 370 as “unilateral and illegal” and Imran Khan directed the country’s armed forces to continue vigilance. Earlier, Khan also voiced apprehension that Pulwama-like attacks could follow the Centre’s move, which could even trigger a conventional war between Pakistan and India.

India said the reasons cited by the Imran Khan-led government are “not supported by facts.” “The intention behind these measures is obviously to present an alarming picture to the world of our bilateral ties,” it added. It also said that the recent decisions taken in Jammu and Kashmir are driven by a commitment to extend “developmental opportunities” to the state that it was earlier denied due to a temporary provision in the Constitution.

Pakistan exploited the lack of developmental opportunities to generate disaffections and “to justify its cross-border terrorism.”

Annulling the special status would ensure an end to the “socio-economic discrimination and ensure an upswing in economic activity and improve the livelihood prospects of all people of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.

Also Read: Article 370 scrapped, state bifurcated in two UTs: J&K with Assembly, Ladakh without

Sources said the suspension of bilateral trade will have minimal impact since there is very little trade between the two countries. The official bilateral trade is worth $2 billion, although informal trade takes place via Dubai and other Middle-East countries and is estimated to be $6 billion.

Pakistan’s moves

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday chaired a crucial meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), attended by top civil and military leadership, during which it was decided to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal” move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was also decided to suspend the bilateral trade and review the “bilateral arrangements”.

In a tweet following Imran Khan’s meeting with the National Security Committee, the Pakistan government listed the steps in its plan.

“1-Downgrading of diplomatic relations with India. 2-Suspension of bilateral trade with India. 3-Review of bilateral arrangements. 4-Matter to be taken to UN, including the Security Council. 5-14th of August to be observed in solidarity with brave Kashmiris,” the tweet read. The meeting was attended by top civil and military leadership, a statement issued by Khan’s office read.

After the meeting, Pakistan expelled Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria. “Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back,” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in televised comments soon after the NSC meeting.

While India’s High Commissioner Bisaria was in Islamabad, his Pakistani counterpart Moin-ul-Haq was yet to take charge in New Delhi.

The Committee resolved to take the matter (abolition of the Article 370 by India) to the United Nations, including the Security Council, a statement said.

The Pakistani statement said that the country will observe this Independence Day on August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris. “August 15 will be observed as Black Day,” it added.

Prime Minister Khan also directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to highlight the alleged human rights violations in the Valley. He also directed the military to continue vigilance, according to the statement.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, foreign minister Qureshi said all bilateral agreements with India would be reviewed by a special committee already setup by Prime Minister Khan to suggest measures against Indian actions.

The foreign minister said that he might dash to China for consultations over the issue.

Pakistan lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution condemning “Indian action in Kashmir and pledging support for Kashmiris.” The resolution was adopted by the joint session of parliament after the lawmakers discussed the situation in Kashmir for two days.

The resolution reiterated the “strong conviction of Pakistan that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute would be resolved only through dialogue and diplomacy and in accordance with international law.”

China

Besides Pakistan, its strategic ally China has also opposed the government’s move to end special status for Kashmir through a presidential order. Warning that India should avoid “unilaterally” changing the status quo in Kashmir, China also expressed opposition to naming Ladakh a separate Union Territory.

New Delhi brushed off China’s argument, saying it was “an internal matter concerning the territory of India”.

“India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise,” the foreign ministry said.

UN

The United Nations has said it was “deeply concerned” that the government’s move on Kashmir will “exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”. “The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out is of great concern in itself,” a spokesperson of the United Nations said.

India News

Lucknow court shootout: Western UP gangster shot dead by man dressed as lawyer

Maheshwari himself was a dreaded shooter and was booked under several other criminal cases. He was also said to be a close aide of Munna Bajrangi, who was killed while serving time in Baghpat prison in 2018.  

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Gangster Sanjeev Jeeva

Security in India’s courtrooms and court complexes were again exposed on Wednesday when gangster Sanjiv Maheshwari, also known as Sanjiv Jeeva, was shot dead by a man dressed as a lawyer right inside a Lucknow court.

Sanjeev Maheshwari had come to the SC/ST court for hearing in a murder case and was entering the courtroom when the shooter opened fire, injuring a young girl and a policeman.

Maheshwari, who led a criminal gang in Western UP, was said to be a close aide of gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari. He was accused in the murder case of BJP MLA Brahmadatt Dwivedi. Ansari is currently serving life imprisonment. The shooter was nabbed by lawyers in court and police and has been identified as Vijay Yadav.

Maheshwari himself was a dreaded shooter and was booked under several other criminal cases. He was also said to be a close aide of Munna Bajrangi, who was killed while serving time in Baghpat prison in 2018.  

The police constable injured in the attack sustained a bullet wound in his right leg and his colleagues helped him out of the court complex. He is undergoing treatment in the Lucknow Civil Hospital. Meanwhile, heavy police deployment has been made in the Lucknow court as well as the city after the shootout.

Commented on the law and order situation in UP, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the question is not who is being killed but the question is that one is being killed in the presence of high security.

In his reply to a journalist’s question on the incident, UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the police will not spare anyone who is involved in the killing.

Lucknow DM Surya Pal Gangwar told the media that Maheshwari was shot dead, a girl of 8-10 years has also been injured. He added the shooter has been caught and the investigation into the incident has begun.

In Delhi, gangster Jitender Gogi was killed in a shootout in a Rohini court in 2021. The inter-gang rivalry ended with the knifing murder of Tillu Tajpuriya inside Tihar Jail in May this year.

The security of local courts has been a matter of concern for judges with former Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana raising it with the government.

A three-member SIT (Special Investigation Team) including Mohit Agarwal ADG Technical, Joint CP Nilabja Chaudhary, Ayodhya IG Praveen Kumar has been constituted to investigate the incident: UP CM Yogi Adityanath.

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Wrestlers meet Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, put forth 5 demands, protest still on but suspended till June 15

On Wednesday morning, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and the top wrestlers, led by Olympic Medallist Bajrang Punia, began a crucial meeting at Anurag Thakur’s residence.

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Wrestlers Protest

With the Central government offering to complete the probe against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by June 15, Olympian Bajrang Punia told the media that the agitation by the wrestlers will be suspended till then.

On Wednesday, the wrestlers met Sports Minister Anurag Thakur at his residence after the minister had tweeted late last night that he looked forward for a discussion with the protesters.

Reports said the wrestlers represented by Sakshi Malik and Punia have made five demands in the meeting with Anurag Thakur. Their demands were: (1) Free and fair elections for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), (2) a woman to be made the WFI chief, (3) withdrawal of the Delhi Police case against the wrestlers registered on May 28, (4) the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and (5) preventing Brij Bhushan or his family or his acolytes from being part of WFI.

Punia, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart Kadiyan, who is also a wrestler, attended the meeting. Vinesh Phogat did not attend the meeting as she was to attend a pre-scheduled panchayat in her village Balali, Haryana. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who supports the protesting wrestlers, did not attend the meeting.

In the space of five days, this is the second meeting between the protesting wrestlers and the government. Wrestlers met Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday night and briefed him on their demands. Shah had asked them to trust the investigation process.

The wrestlers have been demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they have accused of sexual harassment, since January this year. The wrestlers resumed their protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23 at Jantar Mantar. On May 28, they were removed from the protest site by police and detained for violation of law and order after they began a march to the new Parliament building without permission. The police action resulted in an iconic photograph of Sangeeta and Vinesh Phogat.

The rub in this melee is that while the government is willing to accept most of their demands, the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also the BJP MP from Kaiserganj, and wields significant clout in that part of Uttar Pradesh, remains a tricky question.

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India News

Section 144 imposed in Kolhapur after clashes break out over socmed post with offensive audio message, Tipu Sultan photo  

The Law and order is the state affair and Maharashtra government takes the responsibility of it. He also appeals to the public for peace and calm. Police investigation is under way and action will be taken against those found guilty.

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Kolhapur clash

Prohibitory orders have been issued in Kolhapur on Wednesday banning the assembly of five or more persons till June 19 after clashes broke out between two groups. Right-wing outfits objected to the use of Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message as a social media status put up by a few residents. Police had to lathicharge to disperse the crowd as the situation became tense.

Police have also applied for banning mobile internet from Wednesday till Thursday evening to prevent the issue from snowballing. On Tuesday, a group of right-wing activists held a protest demanding action against those who put the image of the 18th-century Mysore ruler along with an offensive message on their social media profiles. Police assured action and told them to return. Police also informed the protesters they had booked some people in connection with the post.

Kolhapur SP Mahendra Pandit said the protesters again hit the streets on Wednesday. Few organisations had called for a Kolhapur bandh and the members of these organisations gathered at Shivaji Chowk early today. After their demonstration ended, the crowd began to disperse but some miscreants started pelting stones, forcing police to use force against these people to disperse them. The SP also said they appealed to the agitators to maintain peace and withdraw the agitation.

Dipak Kesarkar, guardian minister and minister of education and Marathi language, said action has been taken against those who had used Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message with the detention of 21 people so far.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed for calm and peace. He said law and order is a state responsibility and the Maharashtra government will act. Police investigation is under way and action will be taken against those found guilty. Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said this was part of a larger well-thought out plan by some people.

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