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J&K Bank ‘misused’ by state’s ruling families: Jitendra Singh

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Jammu | Union minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday lauded Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to bring the J&K Bank under the purview of the RTI Act, the CVC and the state legislature and said it had been “misused” by the state’s ruling families.

The proposal for treating J&K Bank Limited as a public sector undertaking was approved at the State Administrative Council’s (SAC) meeting, chaired by Malik, here on Thursday.

Singh said the governor’s decision was in line with the Centre’s commitment to maximum transparency in the functioning of such institutions. Over the last four decades, the J&K Bank has been used to benefit the members of the state’s ruling parties, Singh told reporters here.

He said the bank’s autonomy was exploited to fill the coffers of those who swear by autonomy for the state.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) asked Malik to conduct an audit of the bank and place in public domain the names of illegitimate beneficiaries, loan defaulters and unverified investors. Singh said those raising hue and cry over the governor’s decision were the ones who needed to be investigated.

He added that it was a mystery how some of these people, with no apparent source of income or meager income, made fortunes overnight and acquired properties across India, Dubai, UK and elsewhere.

He also called for impartial high-level probes into the scams which came to light during the rule of the Congress and its allies.

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Omar questions Army officials boasting about number of militants killed in J-K

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Srinagar | Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday questioned Army officials boasting about the number of militants killed in the state last year, saying it would have been a “great year” if no youth had joined militancy.

“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

He was responding to the remarks of Northern Army Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh in which he reportedly said that 2018 has been a great year for the security forces as more than 250 terrorists were killed, 54 were caught alive and four surrendered to the forces.

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Opposition rally will sound the death knell for BJP: Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the mega opposition rally being hosted by her Trinamool Congress on January 19 would sound the “death knell” for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls and regional parties would be the deciding factor.

She also claimed that the BJP’s seat count in the general election will not cross more than 125.

The number of seats that the state parties will win will be much more than the BJP’s, further claimed.

“The federal parties, that is the regional parties, will be the deciding factor after the elections,” she told newsmen here.

“The rally will sound the death knell for BJP … Obviously, they (BJP) will not cross more than 125 seats,” she said in reply to a question.

Banerjee also visited the Brigade Parade grounds to check arrangements for the rally.

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20 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus to become Indians if Citizenship Bill is passed: KMSS

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Guwahati | Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which is spearheading the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, claimed that around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis would become Indians if the controversial Bill is passed.

Addressing a press conference, KMSS Adviser Akhil Gogoi slammed the BJP-led government for its attempt to get the Bill passed despite widespread protests across the North East.

“The BJP and Himanta Biswa Sarma is saying that only eight lakh Hindu Bangladeshis, who are already staying here, will get citizenship. But our assessment is that 20 lakh people are present in Assam at this moment and they will get citizenship as soon as the Bill is passed,” he added.

Elaborating on his claim, the prominent RTI activist said that a report of former Assam Governor Lt Gen S K Sinha had mentioned that over one crore people have entered India.

“When I met former Assam Assembly Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who is from BJP, he said around 15-20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis are in Assam. Himanta Biswa Sarma himself had said that out of the 40 lakh excluded from the complete draft of NRC (National Register of Citizens), 22 lakh were Hindus.

“Saugata Roy had said in Parliament that 28 lakh Hindu Bengalis are excluded from NRC. So, these different figures by various sources clearly say that around 20 lakh Hindus from Bangladesh are living in Assam, not eight lakh as claimed by BJP,” Gogoi said.

He further claimed that as per Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, there are around 1.7 crore Hindus, which is 10.7 per cent of that country’s total population.

“If the Bill is passed, this will pave the ways for these 1.7 crore people in Bangladesh to come to Assam and get Indian nationality as there is no cut-off date in the Bill.

So, there is a possibility that a total of 1.9 crore people are likely to get Indian citizenship in coming years,” Gogoi said.

He claimed that if that happens, the entire demography of Assam will change irreparably.

Gogoi accused the BJP-led government for garnering votes in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls by bringing in three sensitive issues one after another.

“Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Committee on Clause-6 of Assam Accord and another committee on ST status were brought at this time only for polarising the society on communal lines for the votes. That is why we all should resist it. We will shed out blood, but will not allow the Bill to pass. We will do everything possible to stop it,” he said.

The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill saying it would nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

Massive protests broke out across the state after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Silchar on January 4 that the legislation would be passed as soon as possible in Parliament.

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