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PDP has become ‘partner in crime’ with BJP: Tassaduq Mufti

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Srinagar: Brother of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti and state’s tourism minister Tassaduq Mufti in an interview said, “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has become a ‘partner in crime’ with ruling BJP, and the gradual schism of state’s residents may lead to unprecedented bloodshed.”

In the interview with a daily published on Friday, Mufti said he would not keep quiet just because he was in the government. The PDP will have to “take one last bow and apologise to people for having unknowingly pushed them into something they did not deserve”, said the tourism minister.

He said the current issue is being under control. “We were supposed to be partners in the rebuilding of this place, but sad to admit this, due to the non-fulfilling of commitments, we have ended up being partners in a crime that an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood.”

“The divisive politics over the rape and murder of a minor in Kathua district has “pushed the state to a new low and brought shame to all of us. It would be a ‘sin’ to stay quiet in a situation when every day is a day of mourning and a child’s rape gets support in the name of religion,” Mufti said.

Hinting at the violence it may lead, Mufti also called the anger among youngsters ‘an alert sign’. “I am not going to keep quiet and act as if I am unmoved by the tragedy that is unfolding at ground level, just because I am part of the government,” he said.

“All lives matter. Lives of the people on both sides of the ideological divide. And this is a government for the people and I see nothing wrong in standing with the people to find a solution to the ongoing crisis,” he added.


People, not industries, are more important: SC on pollution by pet coke





People are more important than industries, the Supreme Court said today while taking note of a report that 60,000 people have died due to pollution.

The top court, which was hearing matters arising out of a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta on the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR, asked whether the government had allowed pet coke import without studying its impact on the people’s health.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also pulled up the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for seeking time to study the impact of ban on import of pet coke used in industries as fuel.

“You seem very keen to allow the import of pet coke. Were you earlier allowing import of pet coke in the country without even conducting the study? The other day newspapers reports said that 60,000 people died due to pollution. What are you doing? People are dying in the city due to huge amount of pollution,” the bench said.

“We don’t know whether the newspaper report is correct or a fake news. But your reports have also earlier indicated that people have lost lives due to pollution,” it said.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the MoEF said a report of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) says “the Ministry is over-enthusiastic but it is not correct. What’s wrong in conducting the study and having a discussion with them (EPCA)?”

To this, the bench said “Let us be very clear. The people of this country are more important than the industries”.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, who is the amicus curiae in the case, said the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) supported the ban on import of pet coke, but the MoEF was opposing it.

“The MoEF report is like an ‘Alice in Wonderland report’. MoPNG is coming forward, but MoEF is not bothered. Now they say they want to further study the impact,” she said.

She alleged that the MoEF’s stand on conducting the study was the reason for “delaying the ban on import of pet coke a fuel used in industries which is a cause of pollution”.

Nadkarni urged the court to give at least two days to prepare the report while agreeing that MoPNG was supporting the ban on import of pet coke.

The bench then asked Nadkarni “What is more important for you, saving the lives of the people or the industry?”

The law officer replied, “We also consider that life of people is more important than the industries but there will be no harm if we come up with a detailed report. There are various situations in which pet coke is used in industries and not every scenario is a cause of pollution”.

The ASG said every ban has to be based on some rules after conducting proper study by experts or else the decision can be challenged in the courts.

“It’s not that the MoEF is more interested in importing pet coke,” he said.

Singh intervened and said that MoPNG says it wants to regulate pet coke import while it is surprising that the MoEF has taken a stand that it is “not bothered”.

The bench then directed MoEF to have a meeting with EPCA during the week and inform the court about the expert committee report.

On May 10, the apex court had set a deadline of June 30 this year for the Centre to decide on the issue of banning import of pet coke and said the government’s failure on this count would compel it to pass a direction.

The court also asked the government to consider implementing the ambitious National Clean Air Programme in Delhi first as the people here were “struggling” due to pollution. The NCAP is aimed at tackling the air pollution problem in 100 cities across the country.

The Centre had then told the apex court that discussions were underway on the issue of banning the import of pet coke and it would take around six weeks to take a decision.

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30k Pakistanis granted Long Term Visas; can buy property, get PAN, Aadhaar




Nearly 30,000 Pakistani nationals, mostly Hindus, have been granted Long Time Visas (LTVs) since 2011, making them eligible to obtain PAN and Aadhaar cards as well as buy property, Home Ministry officials said.

In 2018, till today, altogether 6,092 Pakistani nationals have been given LTVs in line with the Modi government’s policy to help minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who come to India after facing alleged persecution in their home country.

A total of 14,726 Pakistani citizens were given LTVs between 2011 and 2014 after they submitted applications in papers (offline), a Home Ministry official said.

Since 2015, when the process of granting LTVs were made online, 2,142 Pakistani nationals were given LTVs in 2015, as many as 2,298 in 2016 and 4,712 in 2017.

Under the latest policy of the central government, those belonging to minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, namely — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — staying in India on Long Term Visas, are allowed to purchase a small dwelling unit sufficient to serve the needs of a family for self-use and suitable accommodation for carrying out self-employment, another official said.

However, they are barred from buying immovable property in and around restricted or protected areas, including cantonment regions.

Such communities are also allowed to obtain PAN cards, Aadhaar numbers and driving licences, take up self-employment or do business, and are allowed free movement within the state of their stay and transfer of Long Term Visa papers from one state to another.

An additional 1,500 applications from Pakistani nationals for LTVs are under considerations of the Home Ministry, the official said.

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Jammu chamber warns agitation over discrimination after Amarnath yatra




The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) today warned it would launch a mass agitation over alleged discrimination against the Jammu region after the ongoing Amarnath Yatra concludes next month.

However, it made it clear that it would not be part of any politically motivated campaign to press for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-and-murder case.

The chamber’s warning came close on the heels of a campaign announced by Ankur Sharma, one of the defence lawyers in the Kathua rape-and-murder case, to press for a CBI probe and counter systematic invasion aimed at changing the demography of Hindu- dominated Jammu region.

The discrimination continues with Jammu even under the governor’s rule. We are in touch with the heads of various religious bodies, social organisations and student unions and will jointly launch an agitation after the end of the Amarnath yatra (on August 26), JCCI president Rakesh Gupta told reporters here.

The JCCI appealed to one and all to get ready for the final fight for justice”.

In a letter addressed to the governor last month, the JCCI had demanded relocation of the illegally settled Rohingya Muslim immigrants besides drawing his attention to the pending tourism, industry and health projects.

We are meeting the governor and his advisor’s shortly to seek redressal of the issues already raised by us. In addition, the menace of drugs and rampant corruption will also be brought to their notice, he said.

Gupta said the chamber would also request to allow central investigating agencies to probe corruption charges involving former ministers and bureaucrats as the “state watchdog agencies have failed to do enough”.

Gupta blamed senior BJP leader and former assembly speaker Nirmal Singh for neglect of Jammu over the past three years of PDP-BJP rule.

Replying to a question whether the chamber supports the demand for CBI probe into Kathua rape and murder case, he said, Our stand on the heinous crime is categorically clear that we will not support any politically motivated agitation or campaign on the issue.

“The CBI probe will not be different…the case is sub-judice and if anybody is not satisfied, there is a provision to move to a higher court and seek a CBI probe by justifying the demand,” he said.

He defended his demand for the relocation of the Rohingyas, saying, Since the issue is also sub-judice, we want them to be relocated till a final decision is taken on their deportation.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ankur Sharma announced a campaign under the banner of ‘Ikkjutt’ (United) Jammu to push for handing over the Kathua case to CBI.

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