Rajnath Singh’s address
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments on talks with Pakistan is making headlines today. “Signalling the hardening of India’s position” after the Centre revoked the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, Singh said that “talks with Islamabad will be held only on the issue of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK),” reports The Indian Express.
Hindustan Times writes that Singh’s remarks Sunday contributed to “ratcheting up the rhetoric against Islamabad.” HT notes that this came “two days after Singh hinted that India might change its ‘no first use’ policy for nuclear weapons depending on circumstances.” Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi “hit back”, saying Singh’s remarks were “reflective of the predicament that India finds itself in …,” writes HT.
The Hindu also quotes the defence minister saying, “what’s the issue on which there should be talks?… If there are to be any talks with Pakistan, they will happen only when Pakistan stops supporting terror from its soil.”
Express in Explained’ underlines that “while both countries have engaged in bilateral talks, recent efforts were aimed at resolving the issue peacefully. But Delhi’s new red line is expected to elicit a sharp and negative response from Islamabad.”
Restrictions in J&K reimposed
Newspapers have begun to reflect incidents of violence in the Valley, a fortnight after the revocation of Article 370. The government “reimposing restrictions on Sunday in some parts of Srinagar after overnight clashes, even as it eased curbs in other areas” and “prepared to open primary schools in Kashmir,”writes HT. Senior government officials said that a “number of people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city,” reports HT.
The Times of India highlights that the return to restrictions came “within a day of government spokesperson Rohit Kansal announcing on Saturday that curbs under Section 144 of CrPC were being lifted from 35 police station areas as the first step towards restoration of normalcy.” Some of the ‘clashes’ included, “youths on motorbikes allegedly went (going) around asking traders not to reopen their shops in protest against the nullification of Article 370,” says TOI.
The Hindu notes that “at least 4,000 people have been detained in Kashmir over fears of unrest since New Delhi divested the region of its autonomy.”
PM Modi’s visit to Bhutan and agreements signed during his trip are reported across the newspapers with greater emphasis in HT and The Hindu.
Hooda on Congress
The other big political story concerns the Congress. Express reports, “in more trouble for the Congress,” senior party leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda “signalled rebellion” Sunday, as he “declared himself the chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls due later this year, with or without the party’s support.” On Congress not supporting the abrogation of Article 370, Hooda said his party had “lost its way and was no longer the old Congress,” tells Express.
HT’s lead on one of its flaps, and TOI’s second lead of the day is north India facing the brunt of monsoon fury. TOI reports that “at least 31 people were killed, 10 were missing and hundreds of tourists left stranded” as another day of “torrential rains in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand triggered flash floods and landslides” Sunday.
Himachal got its “highest ever single-day rainfall, recording 102.5 mm on Sunday,” tells TOI. While HT reports that the Delhi government on Sunday “sounded a flood alert for the Capital and asked people living in low lying areas to move to safer places as the water level in the Yamuna is expected to cross the danger mark.”
The Hindu: In “Unclear doctrine”, The Hindu raises concerns regarding Defence Minister Singh’s “enigmatic” remarks about India’s nuclear policy. For the past 16 years, India has maintained a ‘no-first-use’ policy in which nuclear weapons would only be used for “punitive retaliation, in case deterrence failed”. While Singh paid tributes to former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in Pokhran, he said the policy had fared well for India so far and “what happens in future depends on circumstances.” There are fears that his remarks could “spark off a nuclear arms race” and trigger “strategic paranoias” that have plagued “this part of the world for over half a century.” Matters of nuclear doctrine require clarity, writes The Hindu and it would have been better if Singh “elaborated” on his statement so that a debate could follow.
TOI: The newspaper discusses the environmental “pandemic” of single-use plastics and the need for its regulation, as mentioned by Prime Minister Modi in his Independence Day speech. In “Plastic turns toxic”, TOI terms everything from grocery bags to ketchup sachets, as “luxuries” that will enter human food chains and cause disease and premature deaths by 2050. Packaging, which “accounts for 50 per cent of global plastic waste”, is the first step towards regulation, it writes. But in India, bans and levies like the ‘Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016’, have been ineffective due to “weak enforcement and continuing popularity of plastic bags”. Both consumers and retailers continue to prefer plastic because its “virtually free of cost”. TOI suggests that India needs “innovations” like paper sachets or providing levies on suppliers of single-use plastics, to prevent “ecological disaster” one day.
India Today’s `Mood of the Nation’ poll dominated Aaj Tak and India Today’s prime times Sunday, while Defence Minister Singh’s statement drew comments elsewhere.
Aaj Tak: The `Mood of The Nation’ poll declared Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as the best CM, followed by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
On`Halla Bol’, politicians from different parties claimed bragging rights for their CMs.
BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi said: “In the last 20 years or so, law and order was completely absent in UP. But it has gotten much better since Yogi Adityanath has come to power.”
JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi claimed that “the maximum GDP, state-wise, is in Bihar. Nitish Kumar took Bihar from nowhere to such a place.’’
Ashutosh, senior journalist and a former AAP member, was all irony as he congratulated BJP’s Trivedi and asked: “Is this really justice…what is happening in that state? The Unnao rape case is in shambles….”
Zee News: `Taal Thok Ke’ with Sachin Arora discussed Singh’s PoK remarks.
Colonel Tikku said, “In 1971, we had a very big option to integrate PoK with India…Singh’s comment is timely.”
“Pakistan can try as hard as it wants, the world will not fall for its act. The issue remains that of PoK”, boasted BJP’s R.P. Singh.
Javed Kashmiri, a social activist, turned the discussion to Kashmir: “Which prime minister locks up the citizens of the state and celebrates Independence? This obviously means that Kashmir is not azaad.”
This annoyed Arora: “Just because you’re sitting here in Delhi and your network is working, does not mean you spread rumours.”
Times Now: On the `NewsHour’ with Athar Khan, it was Rajnath’s PoK statement, once again.
Colonel (retired) Rohit Dev observed that the BJP government was firm in resolve, not just now but since it came to power in 2014.
Political analyst Subharansh Rai disagreed and said when Singh was home minister earlier, the latter had expressed: “kadi ninda’’ about the situation in J&K.“So I am skeptical of his statement this time,” Rai said.
Vishweshwar Rao, professor at Osmania University offered another perspective: “Initially, Singh spoke about no first use (of nuclear weapons) policy and now he’s talking about PoK… this is a very hard line view. We have full international support that this is a bilateral issue, so what is the need to provoke them now?”
India Today: Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai discussed India Today’s poll that indicated Narendra Modi was the best PM so far.
Rajiv Desai, public affairs analyst, scoffed at the Indian media’s attitude towards Modi. The reason President Macron of France and US President Trump “have remained flat (in polls) is because their media has freedom and doesn’t sing bhajans.”
Sardesai remarked: “Maybe they have an Opposition (too).”
“Over the last six months we have to see what he (Modi) has done – triple talaq, Balakot, Article 370. So (people) see a very active leader,” said Dixit Chanana, vice president of Karvy Insights, which conducted the poll.
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