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Delhi High Court raises concern over Katra-Banihal rail link, gives one month notice to government for filing affidavit

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Voicing concern over the safety of the allegedly faulty Katra-Banihal rail link in the Kashmir Valley, The Delhi High Court on Monday, expressed its worries about the safety of the citizens and asked the government to take a decision regarding the matter.

“The only thing that is worrying us is the safety of the citizens, as it (Katra-Banihal section) can cause a disaster. In the wake of the recent event which took place in Nepal, the government should be more serious about it”, the Delhi High Court said to PTI.

“It (the section) is unsafe. If you (government and the Railway Board) want to gamble with the life of the people then we cannot help you”, the court said, adding further that the government should take a call on it.

A panel of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva observed that even though an expert committee headed by ex-DMRC chief E Sreedharan had earlier raised concern over the existing alignment of the 124 km long section, the Railway Board had neglected the report.

The Economic Times, in a report, has stated that the bench had approved an alternate alignment, saying that “the biggest concern regarding the existing alignment is the poor survivability of the tunnels, bridges and cuttings against the threats of landslides, earthquakes, and the security risks arising out of the nearness of the line to the LOC.”

But the Railway Board rejected the panel’s suggestion stating that it was quite late to change the alignment now, as they had already spent Rs 10,000 crores on the 124 km section which has been in question for the last 13 years.

The report also cited Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the Railway department, as saying that a lot of money had already been spent the rail link and it was not feasible to change the alignment at this late stage.

The Court did not want “railways to throw good money after bad”, but condemned the department for their lack of concern on safety issues.

The government has been asked to state its stand on the issue and has been given a month’s time to file an affidavit by the Court.

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The Plight Of Kashmir’s Pandits

The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Kashmiri Pandits
Plight of Kashmiri Pandits continues: Community members. Flickr

Dozens of Kashmiri Pandits on Friday paid homage to civilians, Army men and their community members killed since 1989 and said the plight of Pandits still continues.

For 28 years, the Kashmiri Pandit community has been observing September 14 as ‘Martyrs’ Day-Balidan Diwas’ at B.K. Ganjoo memorial park in Central Delhi.

United Kingdom-based activist Shafalica Bhan Kotwal who has been fighting for the rights of the Kashmiri Pandits, said: “There is no major change in the lives of Kashmir Pandits, their plight still continues despite Bharatiya Janata Party being in power.

Kashmiri pandits
Kashmir. Pixabay

“Most of them were thrown out of their homes. They are living in pathetic conditions in shelter homes with no basic facilities.”

She said the community was once accustomed to living in minus 17 degrees Celsius. “Their families are now living in the hostile Jammu weather,” she added.

The son of Kasmiri Pandits’ leader Tika Lal Taploo, Ashutosh Taploo, was at the meeting. He said: “My father was killed not just because he was a Pandit..because he was looked as the Hindu community leader.”

Kashmiri Pandits
Kashmiri Hindus protest renaming of Shankaracharya Hill. Flickr

Taploo said his father was the first Pandit to have fallen to terrorist bullets in the Valley.

Also Read: Jammu And Kashmir’s Ad Film Wins Gold At IAA Awards

“Till today no government has brought any major change in Pandits’ lives, the atrocities we experienced and psychological trauma we suffered is fresh” he said.

In a statement calling for justice to “victims of terrorism,” the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submitted to Union Minister Hansraj Ahir. (IANS)