Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley downplayed the Congress’ criticism over the recent unrest in Kashmir valley post the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and called for united efforts to counter the separatists.
Participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the present situation in Kashmir, Jaitley said that he fully agreed with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s assertion that the situation in the valley is very serious. “It is true that the situation there was very good and normal for the past many days.
The tourist season was bumper and it is evident that a message goes to the world that the situation was normal there. As a result, trade and commerce was also benefitted. After a very good tourist season, during which as he (Azad) said 40 aircrafts were going there daily and thousands of people were visiting there by road also,” Jaitley said.
“Thereafter, there was the Amarnath Yatra and it was expected that there would be very good numbers (of yatris) during the yatra and arrangements were also made accordingly,” he added. The Union Minister also rubbished criticism that the PDP-BJP government in the state was not able to bring the situation under control and said this could be a political thinking.
“Today, the time is not conducive that I repeat Azad saheb’s party’s history and its affairs with Kashmir. It is the job of historians. Today, there prevails a truth that the BJP is a prominent political party in Jammu. We also have support in Leh and Ladakh, in the valley it’s not that much. In the valley, PDP and NC have base, while the Congress party has bases in both the regions. And this truth is a political reality there,” said Jaitley.
“But the political struggle there is in between the country and the separatists. The battle is between this country and the separatists. And when the election results were declared, it was evident that the main stream parties of the valley, the PDP and NC, will have to work with the national parties,” he added.
Stating that there could be ideological differences as well, Jaitley said, “The mathematics of the poll result was such that there could emerge only one government— if the Congress and PDP would have joined there would be no government, same was the case with the Congress and NC and NC and PDP, and the two parties that got maximum numbers in the two regions, only their coalition had the majority.” Jaitley said that this coalition was dictated by the election results.
“The option was very clear. You (Congress) too experimented with that as you made governments with both the PDP and NC because you too were aware of the fact that if we have to fight with the separatists then we will have to work with the democratic mainstream forces in the valley. And if we take the same position, it will become objectionable. I fail to understand,” he added.
Jaitley further said it is well known to the PDP and BJP that there are many ideological differences, adding the Congress witnessed the same when it formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.
“But for the sake of the nation a compromise was reached. However, it was not the main reason for deterioration of the present situation there,” he added. Union Minister also lashed out at Pakistan, saying the Asian neighbour never reconciled to the idea of Jammu and Kashmir being a part of India.
“And because Pakistan never accepted this and carried out its political agenda on the basis of a negative agenda, and to carry out that politics, it took several steps. One step was after three conventional wars, Pakistan understood it well that it could not win conventional wars with India to win Kashmir then it resorted to terrorism for almost 27 years,” he added. Jaitley stated that the security forces were also killed along with innocent people in that war on terrorism.
“But there came a phase when in the entire world understood that noting could be gained through terrorism. Terrorism will never be a fruitful. And the second, there is a global appetite against terror,” he added. Jaitley said the separatists also made changes in their policies in the past 8-10 years.
“They started calling the Amarnath agitation and the 2010 stone pelting agitation as mass action in the form of civil disobedience. But there was violence. If a mob of thousands starts pelting 5-10 stones at a police post, that stones act as an arm and what alternative security agencies have when thousands of people attack a police post. We have seen it in 2008 and 2010,” he added.
Stating that the situation in the entire world has changed in the past few years and the people are misled by a stream which was led by the ISIS, Jaitley said, “Earlier 10-15 years, we used to say that India is the only country where not a single person was associated with al-Qaeda. It’s correct that as compared to other countries of the world we are in a better position, but there are sporadic instances and examples,” he added.
Jaitley said the separatists’ agitation was also affected by this changing stream of the world. “The main reason was that on July 8, the Jammu and Kashmir Police received information about some terrorists and an encounter ensued in which terrorists were killed and policemen were also injured. In today’s changed world where the social media wields so much influence and communication is so fast, it was a new kind of terrorism, which was being glorified,” he added.
Jaitley further said the terrorist has assumed a character where he used to mislead and inspire youth and an image was created that the entre security force of India and the Kashmir Police could not reached to that person. “And if a unit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police arrest and counter him, then was it a protest against the formation of the government there or against a statement of a minister. The protest was against the liquidation of a person, who was personified a hero of terrorists by a unit of police during an encounter,” Jaitley said.
“And that is why the entire anger was not against tourists, yatris or the common man but was against the Jammu and Kashmir police and the CRPF. And, it’s obvious that when thousands of people attacked and set police posts and police stations on fire and started creating terror, there would be some action,” he added. The Finance Minister said no country can give permission to attack its unity and would act as a mute spectator.
“The quantum of force used could be a matter of debate and the accountability for which lies on the force and police tackling the situation. And it is obvious that when an innocent person is injured we all feel the pain,” said Jaitley. “There is also a political logic behind that our fight is with the separatists, in that fight if the people of Jammu and Kashmir are standing with the country then it’s in the favour of the country. And, therefore, any injury to them or their sentiments is not in our favour. And thus, the security forces too will have to exercise patience in using force,” he added. Jaitley, however, said the effort today should be to speak in unison for the peace.
“We have also seen valley’s youth, and in the past few years the valley’s students are joining the civil services, which is a good signal. Their joining the mainstream is a good signal. And, therefore, nobody in this House would like their alienation. And thus, we have to end a situation where youth of the valley get inspired by a terrorist, who was motivated by from across the border,” said Jaitley.
“If we want to end this, we will have to assess the reason behind it with utmost honesty. We should understand the fact and appeal to the youth in unison that they should absolve themselves from such agitations so that police or security forces have not to use force,” he added. Azad, who earlier initiated the debate on the violence in Kashmir, said that he was deeply hurt with the present state of affairs in Kashmir.
He lashed out at the Centre for treating civilians like militants and asked the ruling dispensation not to rule the Kashmir Valley at gunpoint. Curfew continued in Kashmir for the tenth consecutive day today. Cellphone and internet services have been blocked in many parts of the state to prevent volatile rumours and newspapers have also been restricted.