Kashmir, a paradise again?

New Chapter Begins

By Insaf

What lies ahead and for how long will the voices in the Valley be suppressed, are questions among many others, which beg an answer. Indeed, the Modi-Amit Shah team has gone down in history, by stripping J&K of its special status and fulfilling the Hindutava party’s seven-decade old promise of integrating the troubled State with Union of India a reality. The decision has been welcomed across the nation, though the same may not be said the way the unprecedented operation was undertaken. But the die has been cast. The Amarnath yatra being cancelled mid way, complete lockdown, two former Chief Ministers put under house arrest et al is mind-boggling and yes unimaginable in a democratic society. But there would be few different opinions that there could have been no other way. Be that as it may, what plans the government has ahead, is anybody’s guess.
However, the primary concern is that normalcy must return. How soon will the restrictions on movement in the Valley be removed? When will telecommunications be restarted? How soon will people get a chance to choose their representatives again? Obviously, a brute majority won’t work and neither will it help to gain confidence. Friday, was the establishment’s first test. Confined to their homes, people in Kashmir offered Friday prayers in local mosques thanks to easing of restrictions. Officials said the Valley was largely peaceful, barring minor incidents of stone-pelting in Sopore. In Jammu, the situation was better. The officials said phone services have been restored and arrangements are being made to restore normalcy. There word is all what people and the outside world has, for the ground reality sadly is unknown. The real big test comes next week as the calendar is marked with Eid al-Adha, Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan. A challenge that must be met, and well. Inshallah!
Tripura Land Request
Tripura wants a piece of Bangladeshi land! No, eyebrows needn’t go up as it is for better connectivity, not in country alone but with the neighbour. The land is sought for upgradation and expansion of Agartala airport and Union Civil Aviation Ministry has asked South Block to make a request its counterpart in Dhaka, which has sought technical details. If agreed, the airport will be the third international airport in the North-East and State government is targeting to complete it by year-end or early 2020. However, as of now signs of the neighbour obliging seem remote given its Home Minister reportedly saying “there should be no question about it.” This despite not only Dhaka-Agartala flights will increase but also to other cities like Chattogram and Sylhet. The airport, 20 km north of Agartala, sits just along the Bangladesh border and thus questions of immigration, currency, sovereignty, security and political implications, shall pop up. Plus, though the two nations are ‘friends’, there are anti-India sentiments which raise the big question: Will the plan take off?

Monsoon Blues
Monsoon season brings shudders to many a State every year and relief in some. While Kerala, western Maharashtra and Karnataka are already facing flood fury, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, are keeping fingers crossed that the rain god doesn’t turn brutal. So far 37 people have died in floods and lakhs evacuated in Maharashtra’s Kohlapur and Sangli districts (27 dead, 205,000 people displaced) plus District administrations and local urban bodies have had to establish temporary shelters for the affected in urban areas, and Kerala (10 dead, 5000 displaced, 25 missing in Wayanad district). In Karnataka, 15000 people have been evacuated as 15 of the 30 districts have witnessed heavy rainfall. And while alarm bells have gone off with rain continuing to lash the Western Ghats, the delta region, rice bowl of Tamil Nadu is relieved as it continues to be parched. And there is hope that the rains will bring some relief to the drinking water crisis. Be that as it may, there is one certainty, the country’s disaster management planning is shoddy, to say the least. Will we ever learn from the adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’?

Goa Reservation
The reservation bug has bitten Goa too. After Andhra Pradesh introduced a Bill for reservation in private industries and Madhya Pradesh saying it’s proposing a similar policy, Chief Minister Sawant is all set to join in and appease the youth. In fact, he seeks to do one better as while AP announced 75% quota in private sector and MP 70%, Goa proposes to go all out for 80%. The reason cited is that unfortunately Goa has ‘no employment policy, no labour’ and it is ‘necessary to finalise one.” That being the case, it seems that it would like to make the best of the opportunity to go for the kill. Sawant gave himself 6 months to deliver, much to the chagrin of the business houses. Voices against such a policy are emerging with some advocating that the Government cannot make it compulsory unless an industrial unit is taking benefits from it. He would need persuasive skills, but is preparing for a contingency plan too. His government is at the same time thinking how to raise revenue as tax collections have taken a major hit since GST. One option is to further lower car registration so that many more people come to Goa, as they have done in the recent past. Time will tell, whether the roadmap is right.

Ladakhi’s Overnight Success
Ladakh is jubilant alright. Its long-pending wish of being separated from Kashmir has come true. But the limelight, at least on Tuesday last was on its lone BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who delivered an outstanding speech. Not only did the young firebrand have MPs from both Treasury and Opposition thump their desks in appreciation, but got a thumbs from Prime Minister Modi. After the voting was over on Article 370, Modi gave him a pat and later tweeted: “He coherently presents the aspirations of our sisters and brothers from Ladakh. It is a must hear!” Plus, he posted the link to his 17-minute speech. And, within 24 hours, Namgyal’s FB account was flooded with friends’ request. But he had to disappoint many as he wrote: “I cannot accept more as the limit of 5000 is crossed. So may please hit like and stay tuned with my official Facebook page attached here.” Indeed, he was sharp in his speech and took pot shots obviously at those who opposed the resolution. In particular was this jibe: “Honourable member from Kashmir was saying after Article 370 is abolished what we would lose. Well I would say ‘two families will lose their livelihood’.” He would have got a hero’s welcome back home alright. However, he mustn’t forget those ‘two families’ who gave him a platform to come into the limelight overnight. —INFA