THE OPPOSITION attacked the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the PDP-BJP government in the state for the continuing violence in Kashmir, expressing concern over mounting civilian deaths and injuries, in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who initiated the discussion on the Kashmir situation, blamed both the Centre and the state government, and accused the government of failing to distinguish between terrorists and civilians.
“In the past two years, there has been a 65 per cent increase in infiltration and a 47 per cent increase in security personnel casualties. You have failed to maintain peace in the Valley and it is a reflection of your administrative failure,” said Scindia.
He also took potshots at Modi, saying the PM was on a foreign visit during the violence and issued statements on attacks in Paris and Turkey, but did not utter a word on Kashmir.
“What was the reason? Why did nobody from the central government visit Kashmir to review the situation… Infiltration is happening, but our defence minister is distributing LED bulbs in Goa,” he said.
Citing the example of two teenagers who lost their vision due to pellet injuries, Scindia said, “…and you call them non-lethal weapons. Will this government see terrorists and civilians with the same eye? Their healing touch has failed. It shows their political immaturity.”
Defending the government, BJP MP Anurag Thakur said the security personnel had little option when facing a mob attack, and asked all parties to come together to find a solution.
Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar accused Pakistan of waging a proxy war in Kashmir, and slammed it for interfering in India’s internal matters. “This is an ideological war that has been going on for the past 70 years. It’s a war of whether we will unite people in the name of religion or divide them,” said Akbar. Expressing concern over deaths of civilians in the Valley, he said, “They are our children. We should take them together. This is a passing storm. We need to understand Kashmir through its kashmiriyat and insaniyat (humanity).”
PDP leader Muzaffar Husaain Baig put up a spirited defence of his government in the state. In an emotional speech, he rejected the contention that the unrest was because of his party’s alliance with BJP, and blamed the past actions of the Congress and National Conference for the loss of trust. He urged the Centre to use its moral authority to resolve the problems of the state rather than using military authority.
Targeting Pakistan for its interference in Kashmir, he said people of the Valley were being “misguided”. He expressed faith in the Modi government, saying “if you can’t do it (resolve the issue), who can do it?”
He also wondered whether Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing triggered the unrest, could have been arrested instead of being gunned down.
BJD leader Tathagata Satpathy, meanwhile, was critical of both the Congress and BJP. “Let us not treat every militant as a separatist or terrorist. It is a result of frustration with the government… they are demanding azaadi, it could well be from poverty and a police state, and not particularly India,” he said.
He also mocked Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that he would talk to Kashmiris. “Do you even know who to talk to? It is the 20-year-old stone-pelter who needs to be drawn to the table… but you will create a leader… like Bhindranwale… the leaders of this unrest are young people… but you deal with them with the draconian AFSPA. The outrage created by armed forces can’t be ignored,” he said.