India

Indian media: Kashmir coalition tension mounts

PM Narendra Modi, centre left, greets Peoples Democratic Party Mufti Mohammed Sayeed after the later was sworn in as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state on Sunday, March 1, 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption PM Narendra Modi and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have promised to bring peace and progress in Kashmir

Media in India urge coalition partners BJP and PDP to manage their differences constructively to work for the development of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP) announced their historic power-sharing deal in late February.

However, Mr Modi had to defend his party in the parliament on Monday after opposition parties criticised the state government for releasing separatist leader Masarat Alam from prison.

Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said his party would continue to release separatist leaders from jail to start a new phase of peace talks in the state.

But the BJP complained that Mr Mufti did not consult its leaders before taking the decision.

And papers see the disagreement as the coalition government's first major crisis.

"The poll verdict has revealed the wide political chasm between the [Muslim-majority Kashmir] Valley and [Hindu-dominated] Jammu: that chasm won't be bridged in the space of a few months. Only a wise and responsible government which puts statesmanship above competitive politics can bring Jammu and Srinagar closer together and deliver the development that voters crave," says The Times of India in an editorial.

The Muslim-dominated PDP won in the Kashmir valley, while Hindu nationalist dominated in the Jammu region of the state.

The Hindu sees the separatist leader's release as "a crisis for the relations" and "not so much a national security crisis".

"While Mr Sayeed appears ready to test the limits of the BJP's patience, Mr Alam's release is not going to make a solution to the problems in Jammu and Kashmir any easier. The power to pardon must be used as carefully as the power to punish," says the paper.

The Asian Age says the BJP may have suffered a setback in the parliament, but it cannot really break the alliance so soon.

"The top leaders of the Modi government, indeed the PM himself, can be politically faulted for not living up to their billing in the handling of Kashmir. But it is difficult to see how they can break the alliance with the PDP barely a week after getting into government with that regional party," it says.

The Indian Express warns the coalition to not forget people's expectations.

"The PDP-BJP alliance rode to power on the back of hopes that it would build bridges and deliver good governance. It will ignore these expectations at its peril," it says.

India's 'rape problem'

Meanwhile, Germany's envoy to India, Michael Steiner, has rejected a University of Leipzig professor's "generalisation" that India has a "rape problem".

Reports suggest that an Indian student was denied an internship at the university due to recent cases of sexual crimes in India.

"Unfortunately I don't accept any Indian male students for internships. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so this attitude is something I cannot support," the professor reportedly wrote to the Indian student.

But Mr Steiner has dismissed the claim as "discriminating generalisation", The Indian Express reports.

"Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists... I would encourage you to learn more about the country and the many open-minded people of India so you could correct a simplistic image, which - in my opinion - is particularly unsuitable for a professor and teacher," he wrote to the professor.

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