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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address is obviously the top story of the day. Newspapers highlight different aspects of his speech in their leads. “Modi announces new post of Chief of Defence Staff on I-Day,” writes The Hindu, “We are now one nation with one Constitution, says Modi,” writes Hindustan Times, “PM: ‘Population explosion a worry’, govt schemes needed to control it,” headlines The Times of India, while The Indian Express goes with, “Defence reform pending since Kargil gets I-Day okay: PM announces Chief of Defence Staff post”. The Economic Times underlines “Wealth creators deserve the nation’s respect: PM.”

Hindu claims the PM’s address was full of “big bang announcements like appointing the Chief of Defence Staff, 20 years after a review committee on the Kargil War had suggested it,” along with “setting aside Rs 3.5 lakh crore for Jal Jeevan Mission for water conservation.”

HT talks about PM listing out his government’s achievements, “the removal of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution, ending the practise of instant talaq among Muslims, strengthening of laws to fight terror, and moving towards one nation, one Constitution.”

Express quotes the PM: “There is a specific character of this government. We neither defer problems, nor do we let them fester.” TOI writes that PM Modi “placed the issue of population explosion on the national front-burner, calling it a challenge and exhorting the Centre and states to devise schemes to tackle it.” It also notes that Modi “skipped any mention of Pakistan” but referred to Afghanistan.

Both ET and Business Standard draw attention to Prime Minister’s comments on wealth creators. He “extolled the role of wealth creators in reducing poverty and said a stable govt and predictable policy meant that India had a conducive economic environment,” writes ET. Modi also announced an investment of Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure projects.

UNSC closed door meet

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) “will meet on Friday morning to discuss Kashmir,” confirms HinduExpress notes that according to the rule, the outcome of UNSC’s “informal consultations are not binding.” Delhi is prepared to “deal with any plea by the Council to hold ‘bilateral dialogue’ since that has been its own position as well,” tells Express.

Pehlu Khan

The glaring holes in Pehlu Khan’s case causing the acquittal of the six key accused is making headlines today. Express quotes Pehlu Khan’s son, who said he was shocked at the verdict. TOIwrites that Irshad (his son) feels “like a helpless spectator after the six men accused in the lynching case were set free by a district court in Rajasthan because of serious shortcomings in the police probe.”HT lists the gaps in investigation, “police didn’t investigate the people named by the victim, video used as evidence was not sent for forensic analysis, phone on which video was shot was not produced.”

Clean air in Delhi

HT on one of its flaps celebrates the “cleanest air in 8 years in Delhi.” Average air pollution levels “in the first seven months of the year in Delhi are lowest since 2012, but remain way above the safe limit,” it reports. There was been a 7.3 per cent drop in PM2.5 in Delhi in 2018 compared to 2017.

Express has an exclusive: In a “significant political and administrative move,” Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel announced an “increase in reservations for OBCs and SCs in state government jobs and education,” mentions Express. The reservations for OBCs will double from 14 per cent to 27 per cent.

TOI reports: “Over two months after he had first announced the intention to make public transport free for women in the city, CM Arvind Kejriwal Thursday said the scheme will begin with DTC and cluster buses from 29 October, the day of Bhai Dooj.”

Opinion 

The Hindu: ‘Words and Deeds’ describes Prime Minister Modi’s Independence Day as “in the right spirit”. In a bid to engage with the public, Modi focused on issues like water conservation, population control and regulating plastic use. If his first term in office, he catered to the needs of the people; this term will cater to aspirations, writes The Hindu. Under Modi’s optmistic tone, however, his speech “sought to camouflage” the current economic slump — declining domestic demand and “investment slowdown” are immediate concerns. There were many “overarching plans” and “elaborate mentions of unitary schemes” in the PM’s speech with regard to J&K. He mentioned the exisiting ‘one nation one tax’ scheme and the ‘one nation, one poll’ that is to come but now, “deeds must follow words”, writesThe Hindu.

ExpressAccording to the Express, Prime Minister Modi reinforced his image of a “changemaker” in his address to the nation. In “The PM’s message”, it focuses on three ways in which Modi appealed to the public — by emphasizing their future aspirations, encouraging their participation in political campaigns by assuring them that not all are “government-driven” and finally, ending his speech with a strong “unitary message”. But the most “controversial” part of the PM’s was his explanation behind the move on Article 370, which according to Express “hit a wall”. Until restrictions in J&K are lifted, it will be difficult for Modi’s plans for change to resonate with the rest of the country, it writes.

Prime Time

Independence Day celebrations in Kashmir and the Pehlu Khan case were major topics for prime time Thursday.

Aaj Tak: On `Dangal’, anchor Rohit Sardana, asked, “What kind of country declares a black day just after celebrating its Independence Day?” after Pakistan declared 15 August a black day. The show camefrom the Attari border.

P.K. Mishra, former director general, BSF, said, “Our side of the Wagah border is extremely colourful and the other side is fully demoralised.’’

He added that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned Modi 30 (times) while the Indian PM didn’t even mention Pakistan or Imran Khan in his address.

Sardana commented: “Flags are at half mast when someone dies. Pakistan’s flag was at half mast today.”

Major General (retired) Rajesh Sahay said, “I can only think of one thing, jaisi karni waisi bharni (as you sow so shall you reap).” He added, “This is a new India. But that is not a new Pakistan.”

NDTV IndiaSanket Upadhyay reported from Srinagar as the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium witnessed an Independence Day function with strict security measures.

Upadhyay interviewed J&K Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal on the celebrations.

Kansal claimed that “the celebrations were not only peaceful, but were done with happiness and enthusiasm. The citizens participated. And equally important is that there was no incident of violence.”

Upadhyay asked, “In trying to maintain ‘peace’ do you think that public participation was lacking?” To which Kansal replied, “What happened in Srinagar is not a parameter of what happened in 25 other districts. I am talking about Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.”

Times NowWith the hashtag #OneIndiaAt73, anchor Rahul Shiv Shankar discussed Kashmir’s integration with India.

“Parliament is vested with all the powers to amend the constitution of J&K when the Assembly is not in existence,” insisted BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi on the Centre’s revocation of Article 370.

Major General (retired) Ashok Mehta, defence analyst said, “If the resentment, alienation and insurgency are brought under control, then investment, development can all come through. But you have to reach out to the people to let them know where they were and where they are headed.”

Pavan K. Verma of JD(U) said, “I’m not questioning Article 370, which is now a law.’’

However, he pointed out, “Article 3 is a fundamental right – that you can’t alter a state, divide it or extinguish one. Even a token attempt was not taken to ascertain the views of Kashmiris.”

India TodayThe Pehlu Khan case, in which a Rajasthan court acquitted all six accused, despite a video evidence that wasn’t verified by the police, was discussed.

BJP spokesperson Laxmikant Bhardwaj argued: “We must agree with the decision of the court. If you disagree, you have the freedom to move to a higher court.”

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress leader and senior advocate, said, “It’s very sad. This, prima facie, appears to be a perverse judgement. We must understand that judges are not helpless. It is a mistake to assume that if they find lacuna in the course of the case, it is not possible for them to fill those gaps.”

John Dayal, human rights activist, “The gravest tragedy is that we are discussing this case on Independence Day.”

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