Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh on Friday said people living in Kashmir Valley were easily misled by rumours, which the “neighbouring country” took advantage of. He was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day symposium on Kashmir titled ‘Peace, People and Possibilities’ organised by the RSS-affiliated NGO Vishwagram at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.
Citing British officer Sir Walter Roper Lawrence’s 1895 book titled ‘The Valley of Kashmir’, he said, “In it he said people living in Srinagar and bordering areas… are easily misled by rumours. It was said 125 years ago, but stands true even now because the moment a rumour spreads, people start believing it. And people who have a different aim and mentality take advantage of this.”
Talking about Kashmir’s history, Singh, who served as the Chief of Army Staff, said, “There came a time when several people were led astray, and one of our neighbouring countries took advantage of this through a proxy war. I believe there are as many patriots in Kashmir, as in the rest of the country.” He argued that in Kashmir “there are those who are misled and those who are misleading” and “both can be dealt with differently”.
Talking about an incident in Shopian, he said Kashmir’s problems were not because of the presence of army in the state. “We had created an atmosphere because of dialogue. The villagers had faith in the army but not the administration. We say the situation is getting worse because the army is stationed there, but the army has no religion or caste; its only concern is the country.”
Speaking at the event, J&K MLA Abdul Ghani Kohli dismissed those advocating azadi for Kashmir and said, “Kashmir is the crown of India. I am a proud Indian and a proud BJP minister.”
RSS leader Indresh Kumar said, “There was time when Kashmir was trying to separate from India, but that stage has been passed and it can no longer happen.” He also sounded a note of caution for the media and said they needed to stop giving prominence to the voices of separatists and terrorists.