Moga bus incident sparks protests
- The family of the teenaged girl, who got killed after being molested and thrown off a moving bus belonging to Punjab’s ruling Badal family, has refused to cremate her pending compensation and cancellation of the transport firm’s permit even as the incident triggered protests by opposition parties.
- Opposition Congress and the AAP joined the agitating family and activists in staging a protest in front of the Moga civil hospital where the injured mother of the deceased, who was also molested and shoved out of the vehicle, is undergoing treatment.
- Sukhdev Singh, father of the victim, said they would not perform the final rites of the girl till their demands like Rs 50 lakh compensation, employment to one member of the family, free treatment for her mother and cancellation of route permits of Orbit Aviation, on whose bus the incident took place two days back, are accepted.
- The body of the girl has been kept in the mortuary of the civil hospital.
New Kabul Pact
- Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, completed his three-day visit to India this week in the low-key manner in which it had begun. India supplied three helicopters to Afghanistan recently, despite Ghani cancelling predecessor Hamid Karzai’s request for supply of major defence hardware. The Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011, which focuses on defence cooperation, was not high on the agenda this time. But it is likely that the proposal will be revisited and Delhi could repackage the deal to satisfy Pakistan’s sensitivities, besides increasing its efforts for capacity building of the Afghan armed forces. This could form part of the new defence mechanism being framed by the two countries.
- Former President Karzai was seen to be favourably disposed towards India while Ghani is viewed by many as too reliant on Islamabad and Beijing to keep the peace in Afghanistan. There are fears that Pakistan’s increasing role in Afghanistan will allow the Taliban to consolidate its position, which will destabilise the region and bolster jihadi groups targeting India. The peace process with the Taliban — and Pakistan’s role in it — figured prominently in Ghani’s discussions with Prime Minister Narendra
- Modi, and Delhi sought clarity from Ghani on the implications of this process for the region. Modi obliquely referred to it when he said at the joint press briefing with the Afghan president, “We have a shared interest in the success of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.
- By all accounts, India remains extremely popular with both the Afghan state and its people due to its soft power initiatives in the war-torn country. While Delhi expects Kabul to safeguard its strategic interests in Afghanistan, India seems to have reconciled itself with Ghani’s outreach to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Delhi is also hopeful that China will use its influence to control the rise of Islamist jihadi forces and bring stability to the region. This conforms with India’s goals for a peaceful Afghanistan, which will allow Ghani to fulfil his vision of attracting investments to his country. Ghani sees the Indian private sector as a “key partner in transforming Afghanistan from an area shadowed by conflict to a hub where goods, ideas, people flow in all directions” and has rolled out the red carpet for Indian investors, offering them incentives like meetings with him and opportunities to stay in the ancient palace.
Sayeed going slow on AFSPA, talks with separatists
- Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is in no hurry to reach out to the separatists, despite the promises made in the common agenda of the BJP-PDP alliance.
- Sources familiar with his thinking said that given the volatile situation that prevails in the Valley and the precarious balance that he maintains in the relations with the BJP, Mr. Sayeed was “cautious in pushing his agenda.”
No review yet
- The State government is also not in a hurry to withdraw the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of the State, another promise in the agenda.
- Speaking to the Headlines Today channel earlier this week, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said the State government had not started the review process that could lead to revocation of the AFSPA from certain areas. Ms. Mufti said the government had only been in power for two months and the turbulence it faced had not permitted it to start action in many areas.
- Mr. Sayeed’s willingness to temper his own agenda has been noted by the BJP, which is fully backing him. After the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam from jail, which the BJP said was decided without consulting it, Mr. Sayeed has been careful not to test the BJP’s patience.
‘Doubters won over’
- Meanwhile, the BJP has managed to silence rumblings within its fold that were apparent in the initial days of the alliance. At the BJP national executive in Bengaluru in April, party general secretary Ram Madhav made a presentation on the contours of the J&K alliance and won over the doubters, a party source said.