Rajnath hints at change in Kashmir policy, new steps

‘Leaders should tell how 35A, 370 benefited J&K’
Separatists creating problems, not Kashmiris

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 19: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today hinted at change in the Kashmir policy and taking some new steps, if required to address the Kashmir issue, which he described as an “old problem”.
“We may take more steps, new steps, if required. We will do whatever it takes to resolve the problem,” Rajnath told a national English daily in an interview.
The Union Home Minister said: “We will do whatever it takes to resolve the problem”.
Asserting that Kashmir issue is an “old problem”, he said it needs to be resolved. “It will take time but we are confident that we will be able to resolve it”.
Rajnath charged the separatists with creating problems in Kashmir.
“It is the separatists who are creating problems in Kashmir, not the Kashmiris. I am not talking about leaders but I am talking about separatists who toe Pakistan’s line,” he said.
Pointing out that the Central Government tried everything to resolve Kashmir issue, Rajnath asked: “What do we do if no one is interested in talks”?
“From giving amnesty to first-time stone-throwers to declaring a ceasefire during Ramzan, we tried everything. I even said we are ready to talk to all stakeholders,” he said.
Lauding the role of security forces, paramilitary and Intelligence agencies, he said they are doing very well in Kashmir and it was because of them a record number of terrorists have been eliminated.
“To our brave-hearts, who have lost their lives while fighting terrorists, I assure you that their martyrdom will not go in vain. I would like to ask the people who are questioning our Government what did they do about curbing terrorism? They did not do anything,” Rajnath said.
Responding to a question on the Congress decision to scrap sedition law, he declared that no one can be allowed to break the country.
“We will not allow this. We will strengthen the law but at the same time we will ensure that the people who misuse the law are punished,” he said.
Without naming National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Rajnath said the local politicians who are outraged with our stand should spell out how Articles 35A and 370 have helped and benefited the people of Kashmir.
“Has it solved the problem of unemployment? Local leaders need to answer as they are the ones who have been ruling Kashmir for so many years. The Central Government has always given maximum assistance to Jammu & Kashmir but where does all that money go? Local political parties need to introspect,” he said.
The Home Minister said that his stand cannot be different from his party on Articles 35A and 370 saying if some leader says Kashmir should have a separate Prime Minister, why should we not have a clear stand on these issues?
“We have been left with no option but to declare that these Articles should be done away with. Yes, the situation has changed. Articles 370 and 35A were not given to promote statements like these or call for a separate Prime Minister for Kashmir,” Rajnath said.
PTI adds from Bhubaneswar: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves the credit for the country’s air strike inside Pakistan just as Indira Gandhi was honoured for the success in the 1971Bangladesh Liberation War.
Singh, a BJP stalwart, hit out at the Congress for seeking evidence of the outcome of the Balakote air strike by Indian Air Force and said the BJP-led Government has been able to effectively isolate Pakistan for sheltering terror elements.
He recounted that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was a leader of the Jan Sangh, the former avtar of BJP, had complimented Indira Gandhi for the success in the Bangladesh Liberation War and had said the party would not hesitate to accord its fullest cooperation to Indira Gandhi.
“Now, what is wrong in praising Modi ji if he gave a fitting reply to Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack?” Singh asked while slamming the opposition parties for raising questions when there was nation-wide “euphoria” following the air strike on terror camps inside Pakistan territory. Singh was addressing a series of election meetings in Keonjhar, Cuttack and Puri Parliamentary constituencies in Odisha which are going to polls in the third phase on April 23 to bolster the prospectus of BJP candidates.
“The opposition has been seeking to know the number of terrorists killed in the air strike. How can the jawans count the number when the target is a huge gathering of terrorists? Jawans do not count bodies; it is the work of vultures.”
Claiming that the BJP Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been able to isolate Pakistan in the international community, Singh said “None other than Narendra Modi can give a befitting reply to Pakistan.”
He strongly criticized the then Congress Government for not taking action against Pak-based terrorists after the Mumbai attack in 2008.
The Modi Government had on the other hand acted promptly and launched an attack on terrorist camps at Balakote in Pakistan within 13 days of the Pulwama attack. “This is the difference between BJP and the Congress,” Singh said.
Stating that India is no more weak, the senior BJP leader said “We do not attack anyone but if someone attacks us, we do not spare him.
“Our policy is very clear. We do not attack anyone, never try to acquire anyone’s territory. But if anyone dares to hit us we will not sit idle,” Singh said,
Apart from strengthening the country’s security, Modi has ensured that country’s economy improved. “When BJP came to power in 2014, India’s position in terms of economy was 9th. Now within four and half years, India’s place is 6th in the world. We will be among the top three by 2030,” he said.