Breaking ranks with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference of which he is an executive committee member, Abdul Ghani Bhat, leader of the Muslim Conference, met Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s Special Representative on Jammu Kashmir, because, according to him, “dialogue is the only effective and civilised way of addressing issues bedeviling relations between nations or peoples”.
Ahead of Sharma’s first visit to the Valley in early November, the Hurriyat’s Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had issued a statement against any engagement with Sharma. “…For any Kashmiri to be part of this futile exercise will only undermine our internationally acknowledged legitimate and just struggle, nourished by the blood of our martyrs and great sacrifices and hardships rendered daily by the masses,” the JRL statement had said.
However, Bhat, a former chairman of the Hurriyat who has been left out of the JLR, met Sharma at his home in Srinagar on November 27 during the latter’s second visit to the Valley. Reports that a second separatist leader was also in the room could not be confirmed.
Days after the meeting, he told The Indian Express on Wednesday that there was “bound to be a difference of opinion” in any group of individuals “with heads on their shoulders but (differences) should not be misconstrued as confrontation, much less as a different path. We follow the same path, occasionally collectively, occasionally individually”.
“(Mirwaiz Omar Farooq) said a few years back, who the hell is Geelani. He is on record. But now he recognizes him as his head in JRL. We break to make ourselves. It does not matter,” he said. Declining to elaborate on his meeting with Sharma, the one- time teacher of Persian said he would release a formal statement on that “in due course”. He said seeking a negotiated settlement on the dispute of J&K was one of the ways laid down in the APHC’s constitution.
“It is very close to the constitution of the APHC if you talk in terms of a dialogue with India and with Pakistan in an effort to find a way out,” he said. “APHC is not a grouping of angels on earth. We are human beings, we can go wrong, I may go wrong, but what needs to be understood is that all of us support dialogue under the APHC constitution”.
He said the difference of opinion in the APHC was a sign of the “good health” of the separatist grouping.
“So what if there are fissures. The entire world wants peace, and when you seek peace, you seek settlement of the disputes that threaten peace. This is so straight, mathematically correct,” he said.
The Hurriyat leader said in supporting dialogue, “I probably represent the best of each one of us in the south Asian region. I don’t want to die tomorrow in an atomic holocaust, I don’t want to burn alive with my kith and kin and the entire region. Who wants it? Kindly bring him by the ear to me. I want to talk to him and understand his politics”.
The Hurriyat leader said the situation in the region was getting “explosively” volatile and “we have to be alive to the dangers inherent in the situation”. A nuclear-weaponised region, said Bhat, “enjoins a duty on its leadership” to work for peace.
“We wish well for both India and Pakistan. But we in Kashmir want to establish our identity. I want to be called either a Pakistani or an Indian, I don’t want to be called as a man representing the dispute on Kashmir. I am the dispute talking to you — I don’t want that. And for that, I want a dialogue to happen between India and Pakistan to happen as quick as possible,” he said.
Asked about those who were opposed to dialogue on the ground that nothing had come out of numerous rounds of talks, and had picked up the gun for ‘azadi”, Bhat said: “It is the memory of collective discontent, it is alienation…The collective soul of Kashmir was wounded right in the beginning in 1947. The wound is bleeding. It cannot be addressed with food, or clothing or carpets or buildings. It has to be addressed”.
“Azadi,” Bhat said, “implies I have the freedom to decide what I choose to decide, it is a recognition of the right of a people to self-determination”.
TWO floods, two states, two elections — two stories.
In October Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A K Joti cited “flood relief” while delaying the announcement of Gujarat polls. He said the Gujarat Chief Secretary had written to the Election Commission (EC) seeking more time before the declaration of poll dates as the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) would hamper flood relief work.
“We have received a representation from them (Gujarat government) that there have been unprecedented floods in July and relief work could only start in September….They have suggested that the Model Code of Conduct should be imposed for a reasonable time, so that they do not face problems in carrying out relief and rehabilitation work,” he said at the press conference on October 12 announcing the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh.
The delayed announcement came in handy to the ruling BJP in the state — a slew of financial sops were announced, big-ticket projects were launched across the state and several Central ministers and BJP Chief Ministers travelled to address election rallies.
While the EC found merit in Gujarat’s request, records accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act show that relief and rehabilitation work in Jammu and Kashmir which was hit by floods barely three months ahead of Assembly elections in November 2014 wasn’t affected by the Model Code.
Over 300 people were killed and thousands affected by the September 2014 floods in J&K, thought to be the worst in decades. But the poll panel, then headed by V S Sampath and including H S Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, decided against delaying elections which were held in five phases from November 25 to December 20. The state recorded 65 per cent voter turnout, the highest in 25 years.
According to the EC’s records:
* Unlike Gujarat, there was no official request from the J&K chief secretary seeking delay in announcement of polls due to flood relief work. The EC, however, did get a petition from the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference seeking deferment of polls in view of the devastation caused by floods. EC files show that the then deputy election commissioner, Vinod Zutshi, recorded the following view against the petition: “Concern expressed has already been taken into account by ECI while announcing election. As such, no action may be taken”.
* On November 5, 2014, the EC wrote to the Cabinet Secretary, J&K Chief Secretary and the state’s Chief Electoral Officer, informing them that it had relaxed model code provisions for providing relief and rehabilitation to flood-affected victims.
In this letter, the EC instructed that “all relief and rehabilitation measures declared in the flood-affected areas as per the approved schemes of the central/ state governments may be carried out without prior approval of the Commission.”
It also permitted “all emergent relief works and measures that are aimed to mitigate the hardship, directly and solely, of the persons affected by the floods”.
It allowed the government to give “ex-gratia payments” and “gratuitous relief” directly to victims and families. That apart, payments to hospitals from the CM’s/ PM’s relief funds were permitted without reference to the Commission.
Lastly, all “enabling” administrative and financial work for relief efforts, such as bulk purchase of relief materials, floating of tenders, their finalisation and execution were also allowed without EC’s approval.
The EC’s records show that its permission was sought for implementing four decisions related to the floods:
* Reference from Chief Minister’s Office regarding reimbursement of rent amounting to Rs 27.5 crore in favour of 18,000 shelterless families affected by floods.
* Reference from the Ministry of Home Affairs on holding a meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS), under the chairmanship of cabinet secretary, to review issues relating to rehabilitation and restoration of public assets in J&K.
* Reference from J&K’s finance department to permit tax exemption (under J&K Entry Tax Act and Toll Act) on goods relating to rehabilitation of flood-hit victims.
* Letter from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar seeking permission to employ four contractual workers to keep the library open 24X7, to make up for study hours lost due to floods.
All the four requests were approved by the EC (see chart).
The Indian Express filed a separate RTI application seeking copies of letters written by the Gujarat Chief Secretary requesting delay in announcement of polls on account of relief work. The EC acknowledged the receipt of two letters, on September 27 and October 2, but did not provide their copies on the ground that the file was “under submission”. The EC also said that it had not issued any reply to the Gujarat Chief Secretary in response to the two letters.
The EC has been criticised for breaking from convention and not simultaneously announcing polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, although the terms of the two state assemblies expire within two weeks of each other. Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi had said that this raised “serious questions”, while the Congress had alleged that the BJP had pushed the EC to delay the announcement.
Defending the decision, Joti had said the two elections were delinked to avoid an unreasonably long imposition of the model code, which, in his opinion, obstructed governance.
The Gujarat election dates were announced two weeks after Himachal Pradesh. The state will vote in two phases — December 9 and December 14.
The model code aims to provide a level-playing field to all candidates during elections by guiding the conduct of the incumbent government, political parties and candidates. For instance, under these guidelines, the government in power cannot announce any sops or new decisions that could influence voters. It comes into force from the date of announcement of poll dates and lasts up to the day of voting.
The government will give 3-6 months to link the biometric identifier Aadhaar with PAN in case the apex court rules in its favour, after which it may cancel all PANs that have not been linked, a senior official has said.
The cancellation will weed out all duplicate PANs and make benami transactions void, the official said.
The current deadline for linking the 10-digit alphanumeric PAN (Permanent Account Number), issued by the Income Tax Department, with Aadhaar is December 31.
The government has indicated to the Supreme Court that it is willing to extend this deadline to March 31, 2018.
The official said that in the event of the apex court upholding the government position of making linking of PAN with Aadhaar mandatory and agreeing with the proposed deadline, a 3-6 month grace period would be given to allow all taxpayers to do the linking.
As of November, 13.28 crore out of 33 crore PANs have been linked to the 12-digit Aadhaar, he said.
“The linking exercise is aimed at eliminating duplicate PAN cards which are being used by unscrupulous elements to avoid paying due taxes,” the official said. Not linking PAN with Aadhaar even after the grace period will render the PAN invalid, he said. “We can give 3 to 6-month window after December 31 for the linking,” he said.
Last month, the government had told the court, which is hearing petitions against making Aadhaar linking to bank accounts, mobile phone numbers and others mandatory, that it is willing to extend the deadline to March 31, 2018.
This year, the government made the quoting of Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as obtaining a new PAN.
“The duplicate PAN cards are the ones which are creating a major danger to the economy. They are the ones who are using this duplicate PAN for opening bank accounts and then they are transacting and they are not filing returns. So we need to worry about them,” the official said.
Section 139 AA (2) of the Income Tax Act says that every person having PAN as on July 1, 2017 and eligible to obtain Aadhaar, must intimate his Aadhaar number to the tax authorities. The government had in August extended by four months the deadline for linking PAN with Aadhaar till December 31, pending the Supreme Court verdict.
As the case is pending in the Supreme Court, the government is not enforcing the provision, the official said.
“There will be a time when, once Supreme Court clears it, we would like to give a date by which all have to link with Aadhaar and remaining will be cancelled.
“We will give a 3-6 month window… But after that the PAN, if it is not linked, will be cancelled. Our purpose is, all duplicate PANs should be eliminated which are not linked to Aadhaar card. So, all the Benami transactions will go,” the official said.
The Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the government’s decision on Aadhaar and has said it may consider setting up a constitution bench to hear pleas challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes.
आम आदमी पार्टी के नेता कुमार विश्वास ने कार्यकर्ताओं से मुलाकात के बाद कहा है कि वह पार्टी का वर्जन 2 लाएंगे. इसके लिए वो कार्यकर्ताओं के ‘एंटी वायरस’ लगाएंगे जो चुने हुए जनप्रतिनिधियों और संगठन में हो रही ग़लतियों, कमियों को उठा सकेंगे ताकि कमियों को दूर किया जा सके. वहीं उन्होंने ये भी कहा कि प्रशांत भूषण और योगेंद्र यादव जैसे नेताओं को वापस लाने के लिए संवाद कायम करेंगे.
कुमार विश्वास ने रविवार को कहा कि पार्टी प्रशांत भूषण और योगेंद्र यादव सहित उन लोगों से बात कर रही है, जिन्होंने संगठन छोड़ दिया था. यह बातचीत इसलिए की जा रही है, ताकि पार्टी में उनकी वापसी हो सके. हालांकि कुमार विश्वास की इस विवादास्पद टिप्पणी का दिल्ली के मुख्यमंत्री और आम आदमी पार्टी के संयोजक अरविंद केजरीवाल के एक नजदीकी नेता ने खंडन किया है.
वहीं, हालांकि स्वराज इंडिया के स्पोक्सपर्सन अनुपम ने कहा है कि दूसरों को वापसी के लिए कहने के बजाय उन्हें (AAP को) सही रास्ते पर लौट आना चाहिए.
कुमार विश्वास ने आप कार्यालय में पार्टी कार्यकर्ताओं के साथ चर्चा के बाद कहा, ‘यदि वह कोई राजनीतिक पार्टी में शामिल नहीं हुआ है और यहां वापस आना चाहता है…यदि किसी ने एक राजनीतिक पार्टी बना ली है और उसका विलय हमारी पार्टी के साथ करना चाहता है…यदि कोई हमसे नाखुश होकर सामाजिक कार्य करने के लिए चला गया था…सूची लंबी है. सुभाष वारे से अंजलि दमानिया, मयंक गांधी, धर्मवीर गांधी से प्रशांत जी और योगेंद्र जी.’
उन्होंने कहा, ‘(ऐसे लोगों की) सूची को समन्वित कर रहे हैं. कार्यकर्ताओं द्वारा उनसे बातचीत की जा रही है. हमने जो गलतियां कीं उसके लिए हम माफ करने के लिए कहेंगे.’
सहारनपुर में पार्षद की निर्दलीय प्रत्याशी शबाना ने दो दिन पहले निकाय चुनाव का परिणाम आने पर आसमान सिर पर उठा लिया था।जीरो वोट मिलने का दावा कर ईवीएम के खिलाफ माहौल बनाने वाली सहारनपुर में निकाय चुनाव की प्रत्याशी शबाना की पोल चुनाव आयोग की वेबसाइट ने खोली ही, खुद उसके पति ने भी जीरो वोट की बात का खंडन किया।
शबाना के वीडियों को आप और सपा समर्थकों के साथ प्रशांत भूषण ने भी रिट्वीट किया था। ईवीएम को संदेह के घेरे में लाने वाली शबाना ने बताया कि नतीजे में उसको एक भी वोट नहीं मिला है, जबकि उसके घर से पांच लोगों ने उसको वोट दिया था। उसके झूठ की पोल कल खुल गई, जब निर्वाचन आयोग ने सूची जारी की, जिसमें उसको 87 वोट मिले हैं।
निकाय चुनाव के परिणाम आने के बाद ईवीएम पर पर सवाल उठाने वाली सहारनपुर से पार्षद प्रत्याशी शबाना की पोल खुल गई है। उसने आरोप लगाया था कि उसे एक भी वोट नहीं मिला है। इसपर सवाल उठे कि आखिर उसका और उसके परिवार का वोट कहां गया। शबाना और उसके पति इकराम ने मीडिया में जब यह सवाल उठाया, तो इसके बाद यह बयान सोशल मीडिया पर वायरल हो गया था।
उनके पति इकराम ने बताया कि उनके वार्ड में 387 से 391 तक 11 बूथ बने थे। परिवार ने वोट बूथ संख्या 388 में डाले थे। 390 में एक, 392 में नौ तथा 393 में दो वोट थे। इनको ईवीएम में दर्शाया भी गया था। नगर निगम चुनाव में एक पार्षद प्रत्याशी को जीरो वोट मिलने के मामले में नया मोड़ आ गया। प्रत्याशी पति ने 12 वोट मिलने की बात स्वीकार की है। साथ ही कहा कि जिस बूथ पर उनके घर की वोट थी, उस पर जीरो वोट निकली। उधर, जिला निवार्चन अधिकारी का कहना है कि प्रत्याशी को कुल 87 वोट मिले हैं।इसमें दिल्ली के मुख्यमंत्री अरविंद केजरीवाल ने भी इस बयान को अपने ट्विटर हैंडल से रिट्वीट कर हवा दे दी। अब यह साफ हो गया है कि शबाना झूठ बोल रही थी। इसका सच निर्वाचन आयोग की सूची से सामने आ गया है। सहारनपुर जिले से वार्ड नंबर-54 पर पार्षद के पद पर चुनाव लड़ रही शबाना को जीरो वोट नहीं, बल्कि 87 वोट मिले हैं। उत्तर प्रदेश इलेक्शन कमिशन की वेबसाइट में यह पूरा आंकड़ा दर्ज है।
नगर निकाय चुनाव के नतीजे आने पर शबाना ने ईवीएम पर सवाल उठाते हुए कहा था, कि यह कैसे संभव है कि मेरा वोट भी मुझे नहीं मिला। कम से कम मेरा और मेरे परिवार को वोट तो मुझे मिलना चाहिए था। इससे पहले भी कई बार ईवीएम पर सवाल उठते रहे हैं।
सहारनपुर के वार्ड नंबर-54 से पार्षद प्रत्याशी शबाना को काउंटिंग में पता चला कि उन्हें बूथ नंबर-387 और 388 पर एक भी वोट नहीं मिला है। शबाना ने ईवीएम की विश्वसनीयता पर सवाल उठाए। शबाना ने कहा कि आखिर ऐसा कैसे हो सकता है कि उनका अपना ही वोट उनको न मिला हो। उन्होंने कहा कि हमें उम्मीद थी कि कम से कम 900 वोट मिलेंगे, लेकिन ऐसा नहीं हुआ। उन्होंने आरोप लगाते हुए कहा था कि ईवीएम में गड़बड़ी हुई है तभी उनको बूथ पर एक भी वोट नहीं मिले। इससे पहले वोटिंग के दौरान भी ईवीएम में कई गड़बड़ी की शिकायतें आई थीं।
जिला निर्वाचन अधिकारी/जिला मजिस्ट्रेट, पीके पांडेय ने कहा कि इस प्रत्याशी को 87 वोट मिले है और यही डाटा राज्य निर्वाचन आयोग की वेबसाइट पर भी अंकित है।
किस मतदाता ने वोट कहां डाला, यह रिकार्ड में नही होता। इस प्रत्याशी को 87 वोट मिले है और यही डाटा राज्य निर्वाचन आयोग की वेबसाइट पर भी अंकित है। किस मतदाता ने वोट कहां डाला, यह रिकार्ड में नही।