Efforts to bring in peace in Jammu and Kashmir, action on NGOs kept Home Ministry busy in 2017

By: | Published: December 25, 2017 11:37 AM

A fresh initiative to bring in peace in restive Jammu and Kashmir, tightening the noose on "erring" NGOs and cross-border firing-related incidents kept the Union Home Ministry busy in 2017.

home ministry, ministry of home affairs, MHA, rajnath singh, jammu and kashmir, NGO, peace in JK, Dareeling, gorkhaland, maoists, home ministerWhen the home ministry wanted to withdraw the forces, the West Bengal government approached the Calcutta High Court to get a stay. (Reuters)

A fresh initiative to bring in peace in restive Jammu and Kashmir, tightening the noose on “erring” NGOs and cross-border firing-related incidents kept the Union Home Ministry busy in 2017. Violence perpetrated by Maoists, prolonged agitation in Darjeeling demanding a separate Gorkhaland state and providing help to states to maintain law and order were some of the other issues that the ministry had to deal with over the year. The Narendra Modi government in October had announced the appointment of a special representative to initiate “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, in a fresh move aimed at bringing peace to the troubled state. Accepting the task, former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma has been visiting the restive state, holding talks with a cross-section of people to understand the legitimate aspirations of people, especially the youth, and try to fulfil them. Based on his recommendation, the Jammu and Kashmir government has already taken an initiative to withdraw cases against around 5,000 youths who were accused of pelting security forces with stones and identified as “first-time offenders”. The central government has also released nearly Rs 20,000 crore of the Rs 80,000-crore development package for Jammu and Kashmir announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pakistan violated the ceasefire a total of 881 times along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir this year, killing 30 people. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir has said Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir 771 times till December 10, and 110 times along the IB till November-end. In these incidents of firing from across the border, 30 people — 14 Army personnel, 12 civilians and four BSF personnel — were killed. Registration of around 4,500 NGOs was cancelled by the home ministry for violating various provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Top academic institutions like IGNOU, Mumbai University and Indian Council of Medical Research were among 4,842 entities given ultimatum by the ministry to retain their licences to receive foreign funding by coming clean on their accounts. The ministry also asked as many as 5,845 organisations to open their accounts in banks having core banking facilities and furnish details for real-time access to security agencies in case of any discrepancy.

As a result of such strong action, foreign funding to Indian NGOs has come down drastically from Rs 17,773 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 6,499 crore in 2016-17 and number of functional FCRA registered NGO has come down to around 10,000 from 24,000 three years ago. The home ministry also provided around 85,000 security personnel for deployment in the assembly elections in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — in February-March. The ministry also provided around 30,000 security personnel for poll duties in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh recently. Maoists violence continued unabated in states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where rebels targetted both security forces and civilians multiple times. Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said the Naxal problem continues to be a matter of concern for internal security and the menace has badly hit 35 districts in seven states. The home ministry’s communication to states to identify and deport Rohingya Muslims created a huge controversy with rights group strongly opposing it. In its letter to state governments, the ministry said illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas pose grave security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups and the states should identify and deport them. The ministry said around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in India illegally and they are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan. During the year, West Bengal’s hill district Darjeeling witnessed prolonged agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state demand and the home ministry provided central paramilitary forces to assist the local administration.

When the home ministry wanted to withdraw the forces, the West Bengal government approached the Calcutta High Court to get a stay. At the beginning of the year, the ministry faced complaints of poor quality of food being served to jawans of central security forces leading to issuing of directives to all seven paramilitary forces to ensure a standard of food. The home ministry also unveiled a Rs 25,060-crore mega internal security scheme to strengthen the country’s law-and-order mechanism, modernise police forces and effectively fight against terrorism. The umbrella scheme — Modernisation of Police Forces — is being rolled out for 2017-18 to 2019-20 where the central government’s share is Rs 18,636 crore and the states’ share is Rs 6,424 crore.

Concerned over incidents of attack on cash-carrying vans, the home ministry proposed that ATMs should not be replenished with cash after 9 pm in cities and private cash transportation agencies must collect money from the banks in the first half of the day. According to the proposal, the deadline for putting money in the ATMs in rural areas would be 6 pm, and 4 pm in Naxal- affected districts. Also, specially-designed cash vans, fitted with CCTVs and GPS, must not carry more than Rs 5 crore per trip.

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