Opinion

Round the States

Yasin Malik gets life term: Aid peace process or Setback?

 

Will the life term handed to Kashmir separatist Yasin Malik ‘fuel more alienation and separatist feeling’ as the PAGD warns or will North Block have triumphantly doused the anti-India fire? There is no ready answer, but there is simmering in the Valley. Despite tight security, protests erupted in Srinagar on Wednesday last and 10 people were charged under UAPA. The  administration had to snap mobile internet in parts of city. It was a setback to ‘peace efforts’, said the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. Hurriyat Chairperson Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest since August 2019 said the move is ‘bound to prove counter- productive”; Malik “is being punished for his political beliefs”; since 1994 he “pursued peaceful and democratic means of conflict resolution…” But the NIA court had been firm saying his crimes “intended to strike at the heart of the idea of India” and were “committed with the aid of foreign powers and designated terrorists.” It, however, rejected the NIA’s plea for death penalty, saying it did not fall in the rarest of rare category.

 

The charge goes back to 2016, when the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader was accused of orchestrating violent protests, when 89 cases of stone-pelting were reported. Malik, however, had pleaded that he had given up violence in 1994 and declared he would “follow the peaceful path of Mahatma Gandhi”. This was dismissed by the court: he could not claim to be a follower of Gandhi as he did not condemn the violence in the Valley. Malik also added there was no evidence to show he had provided any logistical support to any terrorist organisation in the past 28 years. Plus, he said that over a period of time, many former Prime Ministers, from V P Singh till A B Vajpayee, had engaged with him, and that the government cannot be “considered a fool” for providing a political platform to a person who will engage in terrorist activities. The arguments cut no ice with the court. The verdict was handed over. Coming days need to be watched and time will tell, whether the order goes in favour of heart of India.

 

Walking The Dog

The VIP culture in Delhi simply takes the cake. Athletes and coaches being forced to wrap up early and gates of government-run Thyagraj stadium closed for a babu to walk his dog, rightly would make many see red. It did. Not just sportsmen and ordinary citizens, but fortunately even the Home Ministry viewed the report in a national daily as unacceptable and within hours took action. On Thursday evening Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar was transferred to Ladakh, and his wife Rinku Dugga, a fellow IAS, also seen in the photograph in the daily, packed off to Arunachal Pradesh, following an inquiry by Chief Secretary. While Khirwar and Stadium administrator denied the stadium was being vacated by 7 p.m. for him to walk his dog, athletes were quoted saying they used to train till 8.30 pm under lights earlier, but now their training and practice was disrupted. Whether further action to be taken against the bureaucrat is not known, the Delhi government also got its act together and announced that all sports facilities would remain open till 10 pm. Athletes should say a big hurrah for the daily!

 

Dome of “Corruption”

An under-construction 70 tonne dome of Meghalaya’s new Assembly building came crashing down on Sunday, leading to rumblings within the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government. Could it lead to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s exit, as ally BJP too has joined Opposition in raising questions of alleged corruption? The new Assembly building was necessitated by the earlier one being damaged in 2001 fire and sessions since then being held at the Art & Culture Department’s auditorium in Shillong. A construction company from UP was given the Rs 177.7 crore contract and work began in 2019. Though completion was slated for this July, the strength of other areas already built is now to be looked into. Predictably, a political blame game is on. BJP, with 2 MLAs, proposes to send a report to Delhi. Debate is on which agency probes the case–CBI or a judicial inquiry? Congress and TMC demand government must come clean as there’s ‘institutional corruption’. Will it be checked or be another whitewash?

 

ED Proactive in Maha 

Maharashtra is on the radar of the Enforcement Directorate. After the arrest of minister Nawab Malik and former state Home Minister Anil Desmukh viz separate money laundering cases, the next in line appears to be Transport Minister and Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab. On Thursday last, the ED conducted searches at 7 premises linked to him across the State as part of PMLA probe. Charges include Parab having purchased land in Dapoli in 2017 for Rs 1 crore, but it was registered only in 2019; later it was sold to a Mumbai-based cable operator Sadanand Kadam in 2020 for Rs 1.10 crore. In between, a resort was built on the same land from 2017 to 2020! Expectedly, the SS dismissed the raids as “politics of vengeance” and accused the central agencies of being ‘driven by the BJP, to malign its image. But, it will not buckle under pressure.” Be that as it may, the timing doesn’t bode well for the party, just ahead of civic polls. Other than corruption becoming an issue, Parab is close to Uddhav Thackeray, a key strategist for the polls and seen as a bridge between the old guard and GenNext.  Reason to worry.

 

Telangana’s Boo 

Telangana’s spat with New Delhi gets worse. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao chooses to say a big boo to Prime Minister Modi, throwing protocol to the winds. On Wednesday last, he left for Bengaluru to meet JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda, hours before Modi landed in Hyderabad for the 20th year celebrations of Indian School of Business. This is the second time in past four months he has evaded extending courtesy to Modi. Earlier in February, KCR was ‘unwell’ when Modi went to unveil the Statue of Equality. Guess, other than eyeing a role in national politics, KCR has to retain his hold in next year’s Assembly polls and so the tirade. The latest: despite ‘bhaashanbaazi’ (rhetoric), industries were closing down, GDP crashing, rupee falling and all sections of society suffering. Modi counters with: ‘parivaarvadi’ is democracy’s greatest enemy, and “superstitious people can never do justice to Telangana’s potential!” Both sides speak of ‘liberation’. The potshots make good copy but who shall have the last laugh?

 

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