Challenging Task For Centre

Terror In Jammu

By Insaf

It’s red alert for Jammu. Since June 9, J&K has witnessed four terrorist attacks in Reasi, Kathua and Doda districts, killing nine people, including seven pilgrims and a CRPF jawan, and leaving seven security personnel and others injured. Apparently, there is now a shift in focus of terrorists from Kashmir, as in the past two-three years, they have intermittently struck in Jammu. Records reveal the region has seen a surge in violence, particularly in 2023 with 43 terror attacks and 20 so far in 2024. Security analysts say that Pakistan is unable to do much in Kashmir, so terrorists are crossing the border and LoC. Besides, same level of intelligence (both tech and humanity) doesn’t exist in the Jammu region. Undoubtedly, this requires Centre’s special attention. Moreso, as the terror attacks could be viewed as a move to deter holding of Assembly elections around September as per commitments made. The Jammu police has released sketches of four terrorists involved in two attacks, announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh for information leading to their arrest and issued an advisory, urging residents of Jammu region to stay vigilant regarding movement of suspicious individuals and objects. Prime Minister Modi in a meeting to review the situation has asked officials to deploy the “full spectrum of counter-terror capabilities”. Jammu region after Kashmir has become a big security challenge and must be met with the same zeal. As said a stitch in time saves nine.

BJP Opens Innings In Odisha

BJP opened its innings in Odisha with 52-year-old tribal four-time MLA Mohan Charan Majhi sworn in as its first Chief Minister on Wednesday last, at Janata Maidan Bhubaneswar. In a post on X, Prime Minister Modi said, “It’s a historic day in Odisha! With the blessings of my sisters and brothers of Odisha, @BJP4Odisha is forming its first-ever government in the state. I attended the swearing-in ceremony in Bhubaneswar.” Indeed, reason for jubilation as the 24-year-old BJD government of Naveen Patnaik bit the dust this election. Importantly, Majhi and his two deputy CMs K V Singh Deo and Pravati Parida have already started to deliver on the promises made. A day later, all four gates of Puri’s Jagannath temple were reopened for devotees (since the pandemic three gates remained shut). This apart, the government has decided to set up a Rs 500 crore corpus fund for better management, maintenance and development of the temple; increase minimum support price of paddy to Rs 3,100 per quintal and implement Subhadara Yojana, which promises to provide a voucher of Rs 50,000 to every woman, which can be encashed in two years. Beginning of a new era alright, but the challenge of stepping into boots of Patnaik could be daunting.

AP’s Dream Capital

Amaravati, the dream capital of Chandrababu Naidu is finally going to be realised, as the TDP supremo was Wednesday last sworn-in as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for the fourth term.  His new team of ministers include his son Nara Lokesh and Janasena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan. ‘In our government, there will be no games under the guise of three capitals. Our capital is Amaravati. Amaravati is the capital,’ proclaimed Naidu. With this announcement, real estate prices have skyrocketed from a low of Rs 6,000 per square yard (in 2020) to around Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 per square yard after TDP’s great victory. Recall, his predecessor Jagan Reddy after taking over the reins five years ago had declared three capitals — Visakhapatnam an executive capital, while Amaravati and Kurnool would be legislative and judicial capitals!

Obviously, the development works at Amaravati were stopped but no longer and the incomplete work is to be finished. It is said investments to tune of Rs 10,000 crore-odd were made in the capital city, planned across 30,000 acres, with an incomplete trunk infrastructure such as roads, drains, power and water supply. A lot more would need to be pumped in and the big question is whether the Centre will chip in, in lieu of the special status sought for the state?

Kerala’s Tragedy

For Kerala the Kuwait fire tragedy would be devastating. Of the 45 Indians killed in the fire, the highest number, 23, belonged to Kerala, 7 were from Tamil Nadu, 3 from Andhra Pradesh and 1 from Karnataka. Though a special IAF aircraft brought the mortal remains of the victims at Kochi airport, and Chief Minister Vijayan acknowledged the Centre and Kuwait’s intervention following the tragedy, the tragedy is marred by a political controversy. On Friday, State Health Minister Veena George said “It is very unfortunate we did not get the consent (to travel to Kuwait). More than half of the people who died were from Kerala. The majority of the people who are under treatment are also from Kerala…” The Vijayan government had on Thursday convened an emergency Cabinet meeting and announced she and State Mission Director (NHM) would urgently travel to Kuwait to coordinate efforts related to treatment of those from the State who sustained injuries as well as oversee the repatriation of the bodies. Apparently, George said she had waited for hours at the airport, hoping for permission from MEA. This certainly doesn’t bode well.

North Sikkim Cut Off!

Nature’s fury hits Sikkim again. On Wednesday last, flash floods and landslides hit the Himalayan state’s north region, killing six persons, destructing roads and bridges and leaving 1,000-odd tourists stranded. As per authorities, power supply has snapped, telecommunication networks affected, and dozens of houses washed away in vast areas of Mangan district, tourist hotspot. Recall, last year a glacial lake burst in north Sikkim had led to flash floods in the Teesta, causing massive destruction in both south and east areas and the government then had restricted tourist movement to Mangan district.  With more rainfall predicted over next couple of days, it may be a longer haul for the stranded tourists. While the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association is trying to ensure the tourists return home safely, it has asked those planning to visit north Sikkim to revise their itineraries and visit other destinations. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Transgenders ‘Special Category’

Three cheers to Madras High Court! Noting transgenders should be treated as a ‘special category’, the court told the government not to categorise them either as male or female and that in “every employment and educational avenues,” it shall prescribe ‘separate norms’ for them. Plus, government “shall direct all state recruiting agencies to prescribe such norms for their cut-off marks and the age relaxation open to other special categories shall also be extended to them, irrespective of their caste.” A transgender had petitioned the court about not being considered for combined civil service examination for 2017-18, which were for non-interview post group-II A services under various categories. Saying the petitioner has scored eligible cut-off mark, the judge said TN Public Service Commission shall permit the petitioner to upload documents for certificate verification. Importantly, it recalled that while Supreme Court had decided the National Legal Service Authority case way back in April 2014, neither state nor central government has come forward to ‘formulate a uniform mode of employment opportunities’ for transgenders. Will the two heed without further delay? — INFA