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‘Need for concrete policy against terrorism’

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By Rupesh Dutta

There was urgent need for a concrete policy against terrorism to prevent incidents like Monday’s terror attack in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, former state police chief K.P.S. Gill said, adding that political parties should desist from hyping such attacks.

Gill, 81, who is credited with rooting out militancy in Punjab about two decades back, said India should be firm about its policy concerning Pakistan.

Other security experts IANS spoke to also said that India needs to adopt a tough approach in dealing with its western neighbour.

Gill said tackling terrorism was not child’s play and there was need to take concrete policy measures rather than indulging in rhetoric.

“Politicians should stop giving hype to such attacks and instead get together and formulate a policy to curb terrorism.
Three civilians and four security personnel, including a superintendent of police, were killed early Monday when three heavily-armed terrorists suspected to have infiltrated from Pakistan went on a killing spree in Dinanagar town of Gurdaspur district, shattering two decades of calm in Punjab.

All three attackers were killed after an 11-hour gun battle.

Gill said the attack did not signal that Khalistani groups were trying to revive militancy in Punjab.

However, he said there were still a lot of pockets in Punjab and its borders with Pakistan where people harboured pro-Khalistan ideology.

He said such thinking needs to be rooted out before tackling the menace beyond Indian borders. Gill said it was disappointing to see political leaders creating “media-hype” after a major terror strike.

“I wonder why all this? Instead, why not formulate a policy aimed at retaliating against militant groups and their masterminds? Why go soft every time even after knowing where they (terrorists) come from,” Gill said.

Gill denied that intelligence failure was a major reason for Monday’s terror attack, saying that cross-border terror groups keep making persistent efforts to carry out their designs and are able to penetrate and carry out attacks only a few times.

Strategic expert Brigadier S.K. Chatterji (retd) said India will continue to be prone to such attacks if the government does not firm up its stance vis-a-vis Pakistan and terror outfits operating from its soil.

“Retaliation is the answer to such terror attacks. The actual reason behind the Gurdaspur attack will come to light after some days. I feel there is a need for consistency and toughness,” Chatterji told IANS.

He said India’s intelligence-gathering apparatus also needed to be strengthened.

Chatterji said there was need for the Indian Army to observe more closely how militants were misusing the border areas and take necessary counter-measures.

He said the Gurdaspur terror attack was an attempt to shatter the hard-won peace in Punjab.

“There is a need to intensify patrolling along the border and monitor movements carefully,” he said.

E.M. Rammohan, former director general of Border Security Force, said Indian security agencies needed to understand how militants struck in a border area.

He said either they were foreigners who infiltrated and reached the civilian areas in Dinanagar with their arms and ammunition or they could be members of Pakistan-based outfit operating in Jammu and Kashmir or Punjab.

Dinanagar is about 15 km from the international border from Pakistan.

Rammohan also said that the government should not follow a policy of vacillation towards Pakistan by sometimes going soft on its approach to talks.

(With inputs from IANS)

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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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The-Other-Side-of-“Hindu-Pakistan”
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.