Officers backing early Assembly polls harassed; Omar

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah alleged on Monday that officers of Jammu and Kashmir favouring early Assembly elections were being harassed by a lobby of senior officers who oppose such a move.

“I’m shocked to hear how officers who have supported early Assembly elections are being browbeaten and threatened using their performance appraisals against them to get them to toe the line,” the National Conference leader tweeted.

“One day we will talk about the cabal of officers in J&K who for their own selfish reasons have taken it upon themselves to scuttle democracy in the state.

“No honest officer should fear these threats. We must put the greater good ahead of our personal preferences and benefits. Those people making the threats will not remain in the state for very long.”

All mainstream parties in the state except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) favour simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

To re-assess the ground situation, three observers appointed by the Election Commission completed their two-day visit to the state.

The observers would submit their report to the Election Commission so that a final call is taken on holding the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.



India, Saudi Arabia agree on need to exert pressure on countries backing terror

India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said that there was a need to exert “all possible pressure” on countries which extend any kind of support to terror activities.

Addressing the media after delegation-level talks with visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity.

“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said.

He said it was extremely necessary to destroy terror infrastructure and to punish terrorists and their supporters.

Modi said there was need for an action plan to deal with extremism so that the youths were not misguided by forces linked to terror and violence.

“I am happy that Saudi Arabia and India have common thoughts on this,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said in his remarks that his country was with India on the need to curb extremism and was willing to share intelligence for this purpose.

India, Saudi Arabia agree on need to exert pressure on countries backing terror



Jaitley slams opposition for backing Mamata, calls them ‘Kleptocrat’s Club’

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday slammed opposition parties backing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ongoing sit-in protest against the Centre and called them the “Kleptocrat’s Club” that “aspires to capture the reigns of India”.

In a blog, Jaitley hit out at Banerjee, dubbing her act as a “disproportionate over reaction” aimed at projecting herself as a “nucleus” of opposition parties.

“Mamata Banerjee’s disproportionate over-reaction to the CBI wanting to interrogate the Kolkata Police chief has flagged several issues for a public discourse. The most important being that a Kleptocrat’s Club now aspires to capture the reigns of India,” he said.

He said that the West Bengal chit fund fraud was unearthed in 2012-13 and its investigations were handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the Supreme Court.

“If a police officer is required to be interrogated, how does it become a ‘super emergency’, ‘assault on Federalism’, or ‘destruction of Institutions?” he asked.

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said Banerjee’s strategy in inviting all other opposition leaders to join her protest in Kolkata was to defocus from other opposition aspirants for the highest office and to project herself as the nucleus of India’s opposition.

“Her speeches attack Prime Minister Modi but her strategy is aimed to defocus some of her other colleagues in the opposition and hogging the centre stage,” he said.

Justifying the CBI action, he said the Constitutional framework clearly defines the sharing of functions between the Centre and the state and does not permit an overlap.

“There are Central agencies and organisations which conduct legitimate investigation in states. Today the CBI is being brutally prevented by physical force and detention of its officer from investigating a crime legally within its jurisdiction, in the state of West Bengal.

“It is a textbook illustration of a state government assaulting federalism. Can a state government prevent the Income Tax Department from collecting taxes? Can another state government prevent the NIA from proceeding to arrest a terrorist located in the state? Can the Enforcement Directorate be prevented from investigating or arresting a smuggler or money-launderer physically located in a state?” he queried.

Jaitley said that if any of these was visible, it would be a case of the state assaulting federalism.

“The prevention of a central investigating agency discharging a function given to it by the Supreme Court is a direct assault on federalism,” he said.

Slamming the Banerjee’s supporters, he said they themselves were battling serious economic improprieties, criminal misconduct and even corruption allegations.

“Can ‘new India’ be ever run by this Kleptocrat’s Club?.

“Most of them, or their affiliates are today being investigated, prosecuted and in some cases have also been convicted for crimes of corruption. Her ally from Bihar represents the party of the convicted. The friend from Andhra Pradesh runs a party of contractors, ‘thekedaars’ and money-launderers.

“Her two friends from Uttar Pradesh represent the scandalous legacy of corruption. Her anarchic brother from the Delhi government is at his wits end because the penny stock companies of his ministerial colleagues have been found out,” he said referring to opposition leaders: Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Continuing his attack, Jaitley slammed Congress President Rahul Gandhi for “shoulder-to-shoulder” support to the scamster.

“This somersaulter belongs to the first family of the Congress where most members of the family are on bail.”

He said India cannot afford instability because position is going in for a non-ideological short-lived coalition.

“It has also been argued that the choice in the next Election will be either Modi Vs. Chaos or Modi Vs. Anarchy.

“Mamata Banerjee’s latest acrobatics are the best evidence of the kind of governance India’s opposition can provide,” he said.

The stand-off between the Centre and the West Bengal government entered its third day on Tuesday as Banerjee continued her sit-in against the Narendra Modi government accusing it of misusing central agencies.