Insecure Kashmir: Justice delayed is justice denied
It’s shocking to say the least. In the communications lockdown in Kashmir, the nation is kept in dark that a whopping 250 Habeas Corpus writ petitions have been filed in the Valley in the past four weeks, since August 5, by persons challenging their detention by the government under the Public Safety Act. The high number suggests it’s almost six a day. Worse, while the Centre has been rattling figures showing ‘normalcy’ returning to the Valley before the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions challenging the prevailing situation after abrogation of Article 370, it chose to blackout this critical information. It should prompt the apex court to remind both New Delhi and local administration the fundamental fact that such a writ is one of the ‘most basic protections a citizen is guaranteed under the Constitution against unchecked State power of taking people into custody without charging them.’ While the writ empowers High Courts to act swiftly by ordering the government to produce the detainee before it and ensure due process of law, the J&K High Court, according to a national daily’s investigation has shown “little urgency for either each case is in the stage of admission or has been listed for orders!’ How soon and what action the SC will take is a pertinent question, alright. Will it act, as it has done by issuing a notice to the J&K administration asking to report back within a week on one of the petitions challenging detention of children in the State? The HC Chief Justice has rejected the claim, but will the highest court of the land let it pass? A democratic society rightly demands answers.
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Mind Your Language
Southern States are sneering at North Block. In fact, the Opposition in Tamil Nadu, DMK is claiming ‘credit’ for Home Minister Amit Shah eating his own words and having to clarify he never pitched for imposition of Hindi. And while the party decided to ‘temporarily postpone” the State-wide protest scheduled for Friday, it warned if Shah persists, it will be opposed at all times. Likewise, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan stated the battle for the Tamil language would be “exponentially bigger” than the Jallikattu protest and in Kerala, Chief Minister Vijayan countered Shah’s claim saying Hindi was not the mother tongue of a majority of Indians and saying it unifies the country was ‘absurd’. Expectedly, Hindi turned into a common language for the country has opponents but Shah wouldn’t expect it from within the flock. Chief Minister Yediyurappa of BJP-ruled Karnataka didn’t oppose it in so many words, but he did say on Monday last that Kannada was the primary language of the State and the government was committed to promote it and their culture and there was no room for compromise. Shah will do well to be safe rather than sorry.
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The old partnership has been renewed in Maharashtra. The Congress and NCP have decided to contest 125 seats each of the 288 in the ensuing State Assembly elections. The two have left 38 seats for their allies, but a final decision of who gets which seat and which candidates need to be put will need to be worked out. Plus, the combine will also need to chalk out seat allotment to each of their allies — Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Peasants’ and Workers’ Party and the Left parties. At the same time, attempts are also being made to rope in the SP and the BSP into the alliance. The question of adding Raj Thackeray-led MNS in the Opposition alliance is yet to be taken up, though the NCP is said to be keen. However, the Congress fears it may hurt its support base among North Indian voters and thus it feels MNS should contest independently to engineer a “split” in Shiv Sena’s Marathi vote bank in cities. Though there are ‘ifs and buts’, one thing is certain that the Congress and NCP realised not to repeat the mistake of Assembly polls 2014, where the two fought separately. And while one hurdle is crossed, the two will need to be prepared for another one—how many of their flock are going to cross over for greener pastures.
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West Bengal Overtures
Eyebrows are raised in both Kolkata and Delhi. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, after a bitterly-fought General election, has sent signals perhaps firebrand didi may be softening up. On Wednesday last, after she asked Modi to join for the inauguration of the second largest coal block in Birbhum district, didi surprisingly said it was a “very good government-to-government” meeting. However, during her absence from the State, the CBI made most of it. It held searches for former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, said to be close to her, related in the Saradha scam. Worse, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo was heckled, pushed around, shown black flags with slogans of ‘go back’ by a section of Jadavpur University students after he went there to attend an event organised by the ABVP. This prompted West Bengal Governor Dhankhar not only to visit the campus to rescue him, but ask State chief secretary to immediately intervene. His reasoning being it is “a reflection on the law and order of the State and on the conduct of the law enforcing agencies.” Alas, the bonhomie may be short lived.
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Uttar Pradesh has New Delhi worried. The BJP-ruled State, which accounts for one out of every four farmers in the country, has failed to pay the third instalment of Rs 2000 under the PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi), due to farmers, forcing the Agriculture Ministry to give it a nudge. Of the 6.47 crore farmers who received the 1st instalment, UP accounted for the highest number — 1.58 crore farmers, almost 25 per cent, but the ‘slowdown’ here too is worrying. More so, as non-BJP States Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are the top two States to having met the commitment. The State government says it shall be making the payment in next couple of days. But there can be no certainty as the number of beneficiaries getting the instalments is gradually dropping. A close watch is necessary.
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Odisha’s Good Cops
The police may well be on its best behaviour in Odisha. The Naveen Patnaik government has come up with a novel idea to expect so. It has decided to ‘evaluate performance and incentives of police personnel on the basis of public feedback in their localities’. This is will be an additional parameter for them to get promotions and other incentives. The CM has spelt out a vision of “5Ts, i.e. Transparency, Tech, Teamwork, Time & Transformation”, to usher in the makeover. And this, according to him can be achieved by addressing a basic question: “How do you (cops) treat a citizen who comes to the police station with a complaint?” Under the scheme all police stations are now required to register on the Mo Sarkar (my government) portal to get feedback. In fact, after a complaint is filed in a police station, an SMS will be sent to the complainant, plus Patnaik and his team will make direct calls to the public about their experience at a police station. The good and bad cop will come into play and worth a close watch.
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