NEW DELHI, June 20:
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has strongly defended the Modi Government’s Kashmir policy, saying the Kashmir issue has been a “very old” one and a major challenge for all Governments and will take time to be resolved.
He also said the BJP “did its best” and tried everything to bring peace and development to the Valley.
Singh made these comments in an interview to ‘The Week’ magazine following the BJP’s decision yesterday to withdraw its support to the PDP-led Government. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had resigned subsequently and the State was today brought under the Governor’s rule.
“No, Modiji’s Kashmir policy is correct. There is no doubt about it. It will take time; as I said, the problem was not born today or yesterday,” the Home Minister said when asked whether Modi’s Kashmir policy was faltering.
On whether he missed former State Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Singh said the late leader was a senior and mature politician.
“But, we should not draw comparisons. She (Mehbooba Mufti) also tried, but it can be a matter of assessment of how successful she has been. The Kashmir problem is a very old one and has been a major challenge for all Governments,” he said.
He said “a major factor has been the challenge of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”.
Asked if he considered the ceasefire a mistake as it turned out to be the bloodiest Eid in the valley in recent years, he said it was not true that big attacks had not happened on Eid in the past.
“I don’t think that the ceasefire was a mistake. It was a decision that was taken keeping in mind those people in Kashmir who wanted peace and wanted to celebrate the pious month of Ramzan in its true spirit,” he said.
He added that security forces were never stopped from neutralising the terrorists, who were infiltrating from Pakistan, and the Government did not call it a ceasefire. It was suspension of operations for a month, he said.
Singh reiterated the Government’s stand that it will talk to whoever is willing to talk to it.
“We will even talk to Pakistan if it wants to talk to us. But Pakistan should first address the problem of terrorism emanating from its soil,” he said.
To a question about Pakistan elections and speculation that cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan can form the Government, Singh said,”Yes, the Pakistan army is at it (supporting Imran Khan)”.
In Lucknow, Rajnath said that the Centre wants terrorism to end and peace to prevail in Kashmir.
“Our only aim is that terrorism should end and peace should prevail in Kashmir and our Government will work keeping this in mind,” he told reporters in Lucknow.
He was responding to a question about BJP pulling out of its over three-year-old ruling coalition with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir had continued with their activities during Ramzan, necessitating suspension of the ceasefire by the Centre, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said here today.
Governor’s rule in the State is unlikely to have any impact on ongoing military operations, the Army chief said.
Operations in the Valley would continue as earlier, Rawat told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
“Operations were being carried out earlier as well. Then we saw a phase of suspension of operations because we wanted people to get a chance to offer their prayers during Ramzan without any kind of problem. Despite that, terrorists continued with their activity, which is why the suspension of operations was cancelled,” he said.
Action that was being taken earlier would continue, Rawat asserted.
Referring to the imposition of Governor’s rule in the State after the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP, he said, “We don’t think there will be any impact. We don’t have an kind of political interference.”
There has, he said, never been any kind of restriction on the force on how it should conduct its work.
The security forces have very strict rules of engagement and “take action” in accordance with them, Rawat said. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, June 20: