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Centre non-committal on filing counter affidavit in SC on Article 35 A

Union home minister Rajnath Singh sidestepped questions on whether the Centre would file a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court to defend Article 35 A in Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 20:52 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Rajnath Singh,Jammu and Kashmir,Article 35 A
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh flanked by MoS in PMO Jatinder singh and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy CM Nirmal Singh addressing a press conference, in Jammu, on Tuesday. (HT PHOTO)

A day after saying the Centre had neither initiated any action nor gone to court to abrogate Article 35 A which provides special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday appeared non-committal about the Centre filing a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court to defend “contentious” Article.

“First of all let me clarify that there is no need to distort my statement. I had referred to sentiments of all people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. I talked about sentiments of people living in this entire region. As far as Article 35 A is concerned, I have said whatever I had to say. The matter is sub-judice, so I don’t need to say anything more,” he said at a press conference on the last leg of his four day visit to Jammu and Kashmir

When asked will the Centre file a counter–affidavit to defend Article 35-A, he said that “the PIL has already been filed by some people and whatever unfolds will be conveyed to you. I won’t say anything more than it.”

Read more: Won’t go against sentiments of Kashmiris on Article 35A: Rajnath Singh

Rohingya immigrants

Rajnath Singh described Rohingyas as illegal immigrants and said that possibilities that they could pose security threats could not be ruled out.

“We have adopted a humane approach towards the migrants and displaced people. But we are strongly against illegal immigration. The government will take stern action if a person infringes geographical lines illegally,” he said.

“Let’s wait and see how the matter is pursued. We are pondering over the issue. Some action will definitely be initiated,” he responded when asked to elaborate how the government will tackle the intricate issue.

Around 14,000 Rohingyas living in the country are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while about 40,000 are said to be staying illegally. In January this year, the UNHCR told HT that Jammu region had 7,000 registered Rohingyas.

While the Rohingyas remain a sticky issue for the government, the home minister said the Centre has allocated a package of Rs 2000 crores for rehabilitation of more than 36,000 refugee families from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Each family will get around Rs 5.5 lakh which will be paid directly into their accounts through digital transactions to check corruption, he said.

Pakistan not interested in improving ties

Rajnath Singh also slammed Pakistan saying the neighbouring country doesn’t want to improve ties with India. He reiterated that Pakistan has to stop ceasefire violations.

“Pakistan is not showing interest in improving ties with India. It is regularly resorting to ceasefire violations, but security forces have been given a free hand to respond to the provocations and therefore, Pakistan has no option than to stop firing.”

Pakistan violated ceasefire agreements over 400 times every year since 2014, he said.

On villagers living close to the Indo-Pak borders, he said that Centre has decided to set up an expert group to study their problems and challenges.

“This study group will give its opinion and we will act on it. While 60 bunkers (in Rajouri) have been constructed, more bunkers and other needs of the border villagers shall be looked into in right earnest,” he said

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 20:52 IST