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After Statehood Promise, This Is Modi-Governments Next Big Step In Jammu & Kashmir

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Post the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi-Government has begun a crackdown on encroachments trying to recover 1 lakh hectares of occupied land from the volatile region. EurAsian Times get you an exclusive report from Scroll.

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The BJP Government which had earlier scrapped article 370 that granted special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir so as to integrate it with the rest of the country seems to be leaving no stone unturned to try and put it on the same footing with the remaining parts of India.

After cracking down on terrorists, the Centre has begun another crackdown, albeit different this time, concerning with the eviction of land encroachers. After splitting the former state into two Union Territories, the Indian Government has decided to reclaim at least 1 lakh hectares of encroached state land and village commons by the end of this month, according to scroll.in.

Revenue department officials that spoke to the portal told that about 65% of this landfalls is in the Jammu division. “Out of the total 20 lakh kanal [1 lakh hectares] or so, 14-15 lakh kanal [70,000 hectares-75,000 hectares] have been retrieved and illegal entries against this land in revenue records have been expunged,” said Pawan Kotwal, principal secretary, department of revenue. In other words, the people in possession of the land have been ordered to vacate.

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In Jammu and Kashmir, the land is classified as private or individual property, state-owned land and village commons, which include grazing land. Gradually, much of the state-owned land and village commons were occupied by local residents, although very little of it was used for habitation.

Over the time, these encroachments became permanent. In rare cases, Kotwal said, encroachers started construction on the land, with the complicity of local revenue officials. These structures would also be removed.

A senior official in the revenue department, speaking on the condition of anonymity said, “If someone encroached on state land, it was not unknown to revenue officials.” “In fact, it was a revenue official likes the patwari [village registrar] who would mark the encroachment on state land as an ‘illegal possession’ in the records but he didn’t prevent or force the encroacher to vacate the state land,” he added.

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Under the existing land laws, local revenue officials are empowered to conduct inquiries on suspected encroachments on commons, eject encroachers and impose fines of up to Rs 200. Many in the administration are of the view that such widespread and long-term encroachment could have been only possible with the help and knowledge of corrupt revenue officials.

‘Updating revenue records’

The scale of the encroachment came to light after an audit of land records was ordered by the administration headed by former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik last year.

“This is basically a record-cleaning exercise,” said Kotwal. “At the same time, we are also updating our revenue records. The purpose is that these illegal entries which existed in the records previously, shouldn’t figure in the new record.”

Most of the encroached land is part of village commons like graveyards, cremation grounds, temple and mosque lands and grazing land. A Srinagar based patwari who is aware of the functioning of the system explained that patwaris are meant to provide reports of state land or commons under encroachment in a particular village to revenue officials at the tehsil level and once these details are provided, the Tehsildar or Naib Tehsildar issues the order to expunge these illegal entries from the records.

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He further said that after the deletion of illegal entries, eviction notices are sent to these encroachers and they are told to vacate the land within a certain period of time, failing which they are held responsible for all damages that have accrued till the time revenue officials arrive to retrieve it.

The village headmen were in charge of watching that the retrieved land was not occupied again.

The Srinagar district administration recently in a statement said it had expunged all “illegal possession” entries for encroached government and grazing lands from the revenue records. “The illegal entries have been cancelled and expunged for all 34,238 kanals [approximately 1,732 hectares] of encroached land across all seven tehsils of the district”. It also said that the eviction notices were being issued to 17,873 illegal occupants in the district.

Post special status

The officials said that the auditing exercise appears to have gained pace after August 5, when the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of special status and process of identifying encroached land and evicting those occupying it is now nearing completion. “We are hopeful of completing this exercise by the end of this month,” said Kotwal. “It is on across all the 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.”

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With article 370 abrogated, the land previously owned by the state government is now in the Centre’s possession. In furtherance of its objective, the land laws have also been amended to strike out clauses restricting the ownership of private property to Kashmiri residents.

In addition, the administration has also been creating land banks from which plots will be given out on long-term leases to investors from outside Jammu and Kashmir.

Backlog and digitisation

The revenue department personnel of Jammu and Kashmir point out that the scale of encroachment would not be this large if land records had regularly been audited and updated.

“There are jamabandis which go back to the 1940s,” Kotwal said. The jamabandi for a village usually contains the list of local landholders and tenants, with details of fields, rents paid by each tenant and land revenue paid by each landholder. It is meant to be updated every four years.

 “It is for the first time that these jamabandis are being updated across the Union Territory,” Kotwal said. “As far as land record management is concerned, other states are far ahead of Jammu and Kashmir. In the rest of India, land record management is quite advanced. Our Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu is very keen that we update our records and digitise them.”

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The digitisation of land records was started in 2015, in what was then the state of Jammu and Kashmir, under the Central government’s Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme. That was before the Ladakh division of the former state was sectioned off as a separate Union Territory. As of February 6, 2020, 92% of land records in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had been digitised. The process is likely to be completed by the end of March 2021.

While encroachers are to be expelled, Kotwal assured that erring revenue officials would also be brought to book. “There’s no escaping,” he said. “The bulk of them might have retired now but that doesn’t exempt them from their duties.” Especially stringent action would be taken in cases where revenue officials permitted illegal constructions on encroached land, he said.

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Iran-India Chabahar Port Deal: Iran Kicks-Out India from Chabahar Rail Project citing funding delays

Iran-India Chabahar Port Deal: The railway project was meant to be part of India’s vow to the trilateral deal between India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing a hostile Pakistan.

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The Iran-India Chabahar port deal had run out fuel. Iran has reportedly expelled India from the Chabahar rail project according to a report by The Hindu.

According to the report – four years after India and Iran signed a deal to construct a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, Tehran has decided to proceed with the project by itself citing delays from New Delhi.

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The report writes – The Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister — Mohammad Eslami inaugurated the track-laying process for Chabahar-Zahedan line, which will be extended to Zaranj in Afghanistan. Iranian officials told The Hindu that the complete project would be finished by March 2022 and that Iranian Railways will proceed without India’s support, using nearly $400 million from the Iranian National Development Fund.

The railway project was meant to be part of India’s vow to the trilateral deal between India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing a hostile Pakistan.

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In May 2016, during PM Modi’s visit to Iran to sign the Chabahar pact President Rouhani and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, IRCON had signed an MoU with the Iranian Rail Ministry. The MoU was to construct the Chabahar-Zahedan railway as “part of transit and transportation corridor in a trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan”.

However, according to the Hindu, despite several site visits by IRCON engineers, India never commenced the work, apparently due to worries that these could attract U.S. sanctions. The U.S. had provided a sanctions waiver for the Chabahar port and the rail line to Zahedan, but it has been difficult to find equipment suppliers and partners due to worries they could be targeted by the U.S., said officials. India has already “zeroed out” its oil imports from Iran due to U.S. sanctions.

 

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Iran wanted India to accelerate the acquisition of heavy equipment and expedite work on a railway link to the Afghan border to boost the economic viability of the Chabahar port, according to experts.  As per earlier reports, – there was a written assurance from the US that will make it easier for banks to provide funds for the procurement of heavy equipment” said an expert.

In late 2018, the US had approved a waiver for Chabahar and the construction of a railway line from the port to the Afghan border from sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. However, banks had been reluctant to provide loans for buying heavy equipment due to US sanctions.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had earlier raised the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link at a meeting with Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar in Tehran and asked India to expedite work on it to “benefit regional trade relations”. During that visit, India and Iran had agreed to boost Chabahar’s economic viability, including steps such as providing higher subsidies to merchant shipping using the port.

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Modi unleashed the Indian Army against China while Congress kept a tight grip – Experts

India and China saw the worst face off in the last 45 years on the border. After the troops of the two neighbouring countries clashed on the LAC in the Galwan valley leaving 20 Indian troops dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties

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After the India-China clash last month that killed 20 Indian soldiers in a border skirmish, several anti-China protests erupted around the country. Protestors burned effigies of Chinese President Xi Jinping and called for an “economic war” against China.

Analysts have said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive approach fits the mood of the public but it doesn’t go as far as wanting a full-blown war with its nuclear-armed, economically mighter neighbour.

As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, India and China saw the worst face off in the last 45 years on the border. After the troops of the two neighbouring countries clashed on the LAC in the Galwan valley leaving 20 Indian troops dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties.

The efforts to defuse border tensions were somewhat resolved after a telephonic conversation between India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and through other diplomatic channels.

PM Narendra Modi paid a surprise visit to troops near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where he made a veiled comment on China saying “age of expansionism is over”. “History is witness that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to turn back,” Modi said addressing soldiers in Ladakh’s Nimo.

“Modi would not let the nationalist fervour lead India into a war with China. He wants to use this nationalist sentiment, but he is also scared of the blowback it might cause,” said Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the South Asia and China Centre at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

Analysts have also argued that after the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) came to power, Modi has given a freer rein to the army since taking power in 2014. According to S. Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Congress party sought better relations with China after the brief border war in late 1962, which meant keeping the military on a tight leash.

“Congress was always very persuasive and would ask the military not to do this or that along the border because it would aggrieve China,” Kondapalli said.

Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University explained that Modi and the BJP represent a Hindu-centric ideology, away from the secular and pluralistic nationalism that defined the country for more than half a century.

In August of last year, India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which had granted the northern Muslim-majority province a significant autonomy. Ganguly said the BJP’s Hindu-centric nationalism influences India’s approach to the issue with China because the contested border is in Kashmir.

He further said that Modi and the BJP justified the removal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by pointing to separatist Muslim insurgents in the region supported by neighbouring rival Pakistan.

Ganguly argued that because of the large Muslim minority in India, and Pakistan was created as a homeland for Muslims, it is easy to whip up a degree of nationalist fervour by painting Muslims as fifth columnists of Pakistan.

“Whereas with China, it’s much more difficult to whip up a similar kind of nationalism because the Chinese community in India is so minuscule, but that doesn’t mean Modi isn’t trying,” he said.

“China’s military power is nearly four times that of India. Even after the deaths of the Indian soldiers on June 15, Kondapalli said the BJP had never thought of taking the dispute into anything beyond the defence of a few kilometres of land along the border with China.

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Stealth vs Thrust: Why Indian Air Force needs American jets instead of Russian aircraft?

For the US and much of the world, the stealth fighter jets – F-22s and F-35s indicate US air dominance and prowess. However, with the arrival of ‘highly manoeuvrable’ SU-57, the Russians are confident that they can challenge US dominance

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The Indian air force is in the process of a major overhaul. Recently, at the height of India-China border conflict, Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh flew to Russia and signed a $2.3 billion deal for Russian jets which included 21 MiG-29s and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKIs.

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Many experts have questioned whether the Russian jets operated by the Indian air force can overwhelm Chinese planes which are mostly modelled on Russian technology?

According to Nitin J Ticku an expert with the EurAsian Times, the difference between the US and Russian jets lies in two fundamentally different approaches to aerial combat and New Delhi needs to make a pick.

In conversation with the EurAsian Times, Nitin J Ticku argue that compared to US fighter jets, the Russian Air Force fighter planes usually have a higher thrust and, as a result, better manoeuvrability.

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The Russians still consider mid-range or short-range air combat relevant, so their basic concept is to make their jets competent in super-manoeuvrability, a role that might be overrated.

For instance, if the most advanced Russian jets like Su-57 or Indian air force operated Su-30MKI gets detected by enemy radars or is unable to detect stealth or semi stealth enemy jets, the thrust or manoeuvrability factor is of no use, Ticku argues.

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For the US and much of the world, the stealth fighter jets – F-22s and F-35s indicate US air dominance and prowess. However, with the arrival of ‘highly manoeuvrable’ SU-57, the Russians are confident that they can challenge American dominance.

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In fact, the Russian are so confident that they named the ‘SU-57’ because it combines the best of both F-22 and F-35 and if you add the suffix for both the planes you get 57.

As expected, Russia has kept the details of the aircraft under wraps but leaked reports on the internet do give some interesting insights. Experts believe the SU-57 is an evolution of the SU-27 Flanker’s shape, modernized for low radar observability but also even greater manoeuvrability.

Aviation author Piotr Butowski claims that its high static instability makes it more manoeuvrable than any modern fighter plane. The blended wing design increases internal volume for avionics, fuel and weapons.

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The major component of the SU-57’s performance is its two engines. The Saturn izdeliye 30 engines are each meant to generate between 24,054 and 35,556 pounds of thrust, with the high end in the same territory as the F-22’s F119 engines.

These are meant to drive the fighter to speeds of up to Mach 1.5 in supercruise. The SU-57 will equip with the N056 Byelka (“squirrel”) radar system and the L402 electronic countermeasures suite. L-band arrays will be the fighter’s primary means of detecting stealth aircraft, while at shorter ranges the 101KS Atoll electro-optical suite, including an infrared search and track system, will help the pilot track and engage targets with infrared-guided missiles.

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In comparison to the F-22 Raptor, the SU-57 has two large internal weapons bay. Each bay can carry up to 4 K-77 M and the K-74M2 missiles. The former is a beyond visual range radar-guided missile and has the capability to engage agile targets up to a 100 miles.

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Experts write that the SU-57 is thoroughly inclined towards manoeuvrability and speed while its counterparts in the US rely primarily on the stealth factor, making them almost invincible.

The US jets clearly get an advantage as they can detect ‘highly manoeuvrable’ Russian aircraft early and counter it without showing on its radar. Experts argue that if India has to counter the PLAAF (Chinese air force) India needs more western, especially US jets that can outgun any aircraft in the region.

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A tweet by Global Times read: The #US gives the green light to #Japan‘s F-35 jets purchase. Such a large-scale military expansion in Japan is worrying, especially to its neighbours. There are concerns Japan will break its peaceful constitution.

This was recently acknowledged by China after the US recently approved the sale of F-35 joint strike fighters to Japan. China, via its media, expressed serious concern of having such advanced aircraft in the region which could severely impact the security of both China and Russia.

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