Shah justifies traffic restrictions on NH due to Yatra
‘Will win hearts of people but won’t tolerate terror, separatism’
JAMMU, July 1: Union Home Minister Amit Shah said today that Assembly elections weren’t clubbed with Parliamentary polls in Jammu and Kashmir because of security concerns and couldn’t be held thereafter due to Ramzan and Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra as he reiterated that the elections would be held as soon as the Election Commission takes a call and announces the dates.
Shah charged the separatists with sending their own children to foreign countries for studies and jobs and misleading common youth of Kashmir even as he said the Government will win hearts of the people in Kashmir and they will embrace us. On Pakistan, Shah, however, said that peace talks can be held only with those nations who respect our borders. He also justified fresh traffic restrictions on the National Highway citing security concerns for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage.
He was speaking in the Rajya Sabha on statutory resolution seeking extension of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir by another six months beyond July 3 and a bill granting three percent reservations in Government jobs and educational institutions to the people living along the International Border.
The resolution as well as the bill were approved by the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha had approved them on June 28. President Ram Nath Kovind will now issue a proclamation extending President’s rule in J&K by another six months.
Referring to Opposition criticism of delay in Assembly elections in J&K especially when Panchayat, Municipalities and Lok Sabha polls were conducted peacefully, the Home Minister said there were less than 100 candidates for six Lok Sabha seats in the State while the number of Assembly candidates (for 87 seats) would have risen to 1000, all of whom had to be protected.
In addition to this, the candidates had to address rallies, small meetings, national leaders had to go to the State etc. All this required massive security cover. The Assembly elections were not held with Parliament polls only because of security concerns and there was no other reason. After Lok Sabha polls, there was month of Ramzan and Shri Amarnath Ji yatra. Besides, there were also suggestions from security forces and J&K administration. Moreover, it was the Election Commission, which had to take call, he said.
“(During Congress rule), it was the Government which used to take call on the elections. But, in our Government, we will take no time in conducting the elections whenever the Election Commission orders (the holding of polls),’’ Shah said and rejected the Opposition charges that the BJP wants to rule Jammu and Kashmir through President’s rule saying the BJP already has Government in 16 States.
He said the BJP stands for ‘One Nation, One Poll’ and if tomorrow the Government moves a bill on the subject, the Congress will oppose it.
Taking separatists to task, he said kin of one of the Hurriyat leaders was earning Rs 30 lakh in a foreign country while children of another separatist Asiya Andrabi were studying in the foreign countries. About 100 kin of the separatists were taking education in foreign schools but in Kashmir, they call for closure of educational institutions and mislead the people and youth of the Valley, he asserted and said 43 persons including 24 separatists have been arrested by the National Investigating Agency.
“For the first time, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Enforcement Directorate have opened their full-fledged offices in Kashmir,’’ the Home Minister said. However, he added, the Government will win hearts of the people of Kashmir and they will embrace us.
Without mentioning Pakistan, he said peace talks can be held only with the countries which respect our borders.
Vowing to give a befitting reply to any attempt to break the country, Shah said separatist movement and terrorism will not be tolerated in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the Modi Government has “zero tolerance” to terrorism and central agencies such as NIA and Tax Department are working to choke separatist financing in the State.
Shah advocated a new thinking to solve the Kashmir saying the approach of the past 70 years hasn’t yielded any result.
“We want development in the (Kashmir) Valley. But we will not tolerate any separatist movement and terrorism. Terrorists who do not want to join with India have no place in the Government’s scheme of things. They will face severe action and difficulties,” he said.
On the issue of fresh traffic restrictions imposed by the State Government on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in view of Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage, Shah reminded Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who raked up the issue, that there was curfew in Gujarat for 300 days in a year during the Congress regime and many times, curfew was imposed in Uttar Pradesh when the party was in power.
“Traffic restrictions are not confined to Jammu and Kashmir. They are imposed wherever there is a law and order problem. The decision has been taken for welfare of the people in view of Shri Amarnath Ji yatra, which is being thronged by people from all over the country,’’ Shah said and declared that restrictions won’t be withdrawn.
Again targeting Azad for his remarks that reservation for the people of International Border should be increased from 3 percent to 5 or 6 percent, Amit Shah, who also happens to be the national president of BJP, wanted to know why he (Azad) didn’t extend reservation to the border dwellers when he was the Chief Minister of the State.
He maintained that there was no dispute as far as Kashmir or Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) were concerned saying both are integral parts of India.
Referring to Azad’s repeated defence of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and allegations of misuse of Article 356, Shah said: “We must learn from history. Congress must answer for the historical blunders done by them. Why did the Nehru Government go to the United Nations despite Kashmir’s accession to India? Why did he agree for a plebiscite that is in any case out of question today?’’ he asked.
Shah said it wasn’t his party’s intention to lower Nehru’s prestige but reminded the Congress that history is cruel. He stressed that a country which doesn’t learn from its mistakes doesn’t end up too well. He also insisted that faulting Nehru’s decisions didn’t imply that he was questioning his intentions.
He said it was Nehru, who had for the first time used Article 356 to dislodge Communist Government in Kerala.
Shah said the Government will preserve “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat” — terms first used by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee while speaking of a healing touch for the State.
“Modi Government’s commitment to the policy of ‘Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat’ should not be taken to mean that the forces that want to divide India will be spared. They will be given an appropriate response in their same language,” Shah said.
While defining the terms, the Home Minister questioned what is understood as “Kashmiriyat”.
“I agree that we need to preserve Kashmiriyat. But I have a question which I want to place before you and the people,” Shah said.
“Kashmiri Pandits – they were thrown out of the State. Were they not part of Kashmiriyat? When the Sufis were attacked, Sufi saints were murdered, those who used to talk of Hindu-Muslim unity, they were also thrown out of Kashmir. Wasn’t the Sufi tradition a part of Kashmiriyat?”, he went on to add.
“Had anyone protected the Sufis, who spoke of Hindu Muslim, unity, I’d have agreed that the people are concerned about Kashmiriyat,” he said. “The Kashmiri Pandits, who had been the carriers of Kashmiri culture for ages, were driven out and scattered. If we talk about Kashmiriyat today, we have to think of them too,” he added.
But the Government, he said, will protect the culture of Kashmir. “There will be a time when at Mata Khir Bhawani temple, Kashmiri Pandits will be praying and Sufis will be seen alongside them… I am not a pessimist, we speak of humanity,” he added.
The Government’s motto of development has been inherent in the term “Insaniyat”. It encompasses schools for children, toilets for women, electricity, welfare schemes and food, he said.
Jamhooriyat or democracy, is what the Government is trying to restore in J&K, Shah said.
The Home Minister asserted that the Modi Government has zero tolerance for terrorism and is committed towards development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah reiterated that the State is an integral part of India and no one can separate it from the country.
The Home Minister stated that the Modi Government is following a policy to protect the sanctity of Kashmiri tradition, humanity and peace.
“Our approach is clear, those who talk of breaking India we will respond to them in the same language,” Shah said.
On use of Article 356 to impose President’s rule in the State, the Home Minister said he agrees with the spirit to minimize the use of the Constitutional provision.
Shah said democracy in the State should not be restricted to three families.
Shah said the Modi Government struck at the heart of terrorist training when it carried out surgical and air strikes across the border after the Uri and Pulwama terror attacks.
Unlike in the past, foreign and defence policies have been segregated keeping national security at the core, he said.
He blamed the Kashmir problem to the ceasefire by first Prime Minister late Jawaharlal Nehru when one-third of the State was still in Pakistani occupation and said “late historical blunders” will always be debated.
On reference made by opposition parties to the National Register for Citizenship (NRC), the Home Minister said the Modi Government is clear that infiltration must be curbed andinfiltrators must be identified and sent out.
A citizenship bill will be brought to give Indian citizenship to Hindus coming from neighbouring nations, he said.
“We have continued with a single approach towards the Kashmir issue but if the problems persists even after 70 years, it becomes imperative for us to review and adopt a new approach. We are all for development but there will be no place for separatists and terrorist here,” he said.
On steps taken during the President’s rule, he said security cover of 2,000 people was reviewed and was withdrawn for 919 persons including eight separatists.