NEW DELHI, Feb 14: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said here today that separatists in Kashmir are separatists by convenience, not conviction.
Speaking as chief guest at a panel discussion on Kashmir, with noted TV Commentator Maroof Raza and Lt. Gen.(Retd) D.S. Hooda as panelists, Dr Jitendra Singh said, over the years, “separatism” has evolved into a political culture in Kashmir and even the so-called mainstream political parties of Kashmir have developed the art of using separatist or semi-separatist jargon, whenever it suits them.
Without naming anyone, Dr Jitendra Singh said, there are at least two former Chief Ministers around who, while in the seat of power, swore by J&K being an integral part of India, but soon after being shunted out of power, they have now woken up to realize that Kashmir is a dispute. Similarly, he said, most of the so called separatist leaders enjoy all the perks and privileges granted by the constitution of India, but publically claim that they do not subscribe to the constitution of India.
Time has come, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to address the youth of the Valley who comprise over 60% population and make them realize that they should not allow themselves to be left out when the youth in the rest of the country march ahead in the pursuit of their aspirations under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Time has also come, he said, to make the youth realize that, for years together, they have been misguided by the separatist slogans of leaders who have a vested interest.
Referring to the miserable plight of people living in Pak-occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK), Dr Jitendra Singh said, if given a choice, even the most vociferous separatist leaders of Kashmir would prefer to live in India and not in Pakistan, even though they will never utter a word against Pakistan.
Paying rich tributes to the Indian Security Forces, Dr Jitendra Singh said, we are eternally indebted to the sacrifices of our brave soldiers and added, it is a sin to say anything that could belittle their contribution. Those politicking in the name of Kashmir are successful in doing so because they are, round-the-clock, guarded by the Indian Security Forces, he added.
Lashing out at so-called self-styled intellectuals, Dr Jitendra Singh said, it has become a fashion to abuse India to capture media limelight.
Maroof Raza dwelt at length on the historical perspective of Jammu & Kashmir. He also illustrated his talk with a number of documented references.
Lt. Gen. (Retd.) D.S. Hooda, who was till recently the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in J&K, provided an appraisal of his observations from the perspective of a Defence Person.