Political parties came together on Saturday to express their solidarity with security forces in defending India’s unity and integrity as public anger against the Pulwama terror attack continued to mount.
People in many towns and cities across the country took out protest marches against Thursday’s attack, which left at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) dead. After reports of attacks on Kashmiris in some cities, the Union home ministry advised state governments to take steps to ensure their safety.
The government hiked the customs duty to 200 per cent on all goods imported from Pakistan, following the revocation of most-favoured nation (MFN) status. “India has withdrawn MFN status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Upon withdrawal, the basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200 per cent with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet.
India has withdrawn MFN status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Upon withdrawal, basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200% with immediate effect. #Pulwama— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) February 16, 2019
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi away in Maharashtra to inaugurate development projects and address a public rally, Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired an all-party meeting in New Delhi, which passed a resolution strongly condemning the terror attack. It said political parties stood with the families of the deceased personnel in their hour of grief. The resolution did not mention Pakistan by name, but stated it condemned “terrorism in all forms and the support being given to it from across the border”.
“India has during the past three decades faced the menace of cross-border terrorism. Of late, terrorism in India is being actively encouraged by the forces across the border. India has displayed both firmness and resilience in dealing with these challenges,” the resolution said. “The entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight these challenges. Today, we stand united in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism and in defending the unity and integrity of India.”
A large number of people attend the funeral procession of CRPF jawan Ramesh Yadav, who lost his life in Thursday's Pulwama terror attack, at Masaurhi, in Varanasi | Photo: PTI
Later, Trinamool Congress and some others in the Opposition said they had the government amend the draft resolution that had instead stated, “Today, we all resolve to stand with our security forces and efforts of the central and state government to ensure that these challenges are suitably and firmly responded to.”
The meeting started with a briefing for the leaders on the Pulwama terror attack and the steps taken by the government. The home minister spoke strongly against the violence that broke out in Jammu after the attack. He said no communal incidents would be tolerated.
The meeting was attended by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia; Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O' Brien of the Trinamool Congress; Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena; D Raja of the CPI; Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference; and Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party, among others.
While addressing a public meeting in Yavatmal in Maharashtra, the PM said the Pulwama attack would be avenged. He said this was ‘new India’ and the culprits would not be spared. Congress President Rahul Gandhi was in Chhattisgarh, where he observed two minutes of silence in the memory of the slain troops.
There were reports from Patna saying that traders from Kashmir were attacked. In Mumbai, rail traffic between Virar, Vasai and Nalasopara was affected as commuters staged rail roko to protest Pulwama.
In Jammu and Kashmir, an Army major was killed while defusing a bomb in Rajouri’s Nowshera sector.