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Kashmiri Pandits cheated again? Govt to give only 50 acres of the promised 1500 acres land for rehabilitation

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By Ishan Kukreti

The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led government in Jammu and Kashmir has back tracked from its promise of giving 1500 acres of land for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. Now, a mere 50 acres of land will be available for their resettling in the Valley.

According to BJP spokesperson Sanjay Kaul, “J&K Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has reduced  the land size for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits form 1500 acres to  mere 50 acres.”

Speaking to NewsGram, Kaul said, “A rally will be organised today at Jantar Mantar at 10 am by Kashmiri Pandits to raise a voice against government’s indifference towards Pandits.” He said that around 5,000 people will participate to give the sticky political issue of homeland in the valley a solid push.

“It’s a show of strength for the cause of homeland for Kashmiri Pandits. The aim of the rally is to send a message that the Pandits are united and pressurize the government to take some concrete steps towards resolving a 25 year old problem,” the BJP spokesperson said.

Naim Akhtar, spokesperson for the PDP, could not be contacted for comments, while PDP’s Rangeel Singh declined to talk about the issue.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Ministry on Thursday had claimed that the Indian government’s plan to resettle Kashmiri Pandits was a ploy to change the demography of the “only Muslim state” of India.

“Any effort to create special dedicated townships or zones, or any other step to alter the demographic make-up of Jammu and Kashmir, is in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, Tasneem Aslam had said.

The statement’s repercussion was seen in the state as Pakistani flags were waved in Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s rally at Tral on Friday. Jammu too witnessed agitation as people burnt effigies of Geelani and raised slogans against the separatists.

 

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

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Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)