Government on Monday ruled out any terror or external link to the violence in Jammu and Kashmir even as members in the Rajya Sabha warned that the recent events should not be treated as mere inter-community clash as the country’s “sovereignty and integrity” is at stake.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram,speaking on behalf of indisposed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde,said the overall situation in the state was under control and asserted that the repeat of 1990,when Pandits were forced to leave Kashmir Valley,would not be allowed.
The House saw an impromptu discussion on the situation in the state after Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley raised the issue of violence that began in Kishtwar town on Friday last and spread to other areas of Jammu province.
The BJP leader’s concerns over the situation were echoed by several other members like BSP chief Mayawati,CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury,Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool),Karan Singh (Cong),D Raja (CPI),V Maitreyan (AIADMK),T M Selvaganapathy (DMK) and K C Tyagi (JD-U).
Responding to the concerns and apprehensions,Chidabmaram said it is not correct to assume that the undercurrent of tension between one community with another is linked to terror element or external aggression.
“There is a challenge of infiltration. There is a challenge of terrorists. There is also challenge of undercurrent of tension between one community with another,” he said,adding the Centre will extend all help to the state.
Giving details of the incident,he said the situation in Kishtwar was “near normal” and no untoward incident had been reported since August 9.
While noting that violence had been witnessed in some other parts of Jammu province,the minister said,”Overall situation in Jammu and Kashmir is tense but under control.”
He said sufficient army contingents had been deployed in violence-hit areas and they conducted flag marches.
“The central government will extend all support to the state government to maintain law and order and ensure peace and harmony in the state,” Chidambaram said,adding the state government would be asked to make it a “credible inquiry”.
On fears that there could be another exodus like in 1990,he asserted,”We will not allow repetition of 1990. We will not allow forced migration. We will not allow forced resettlement.”
He backed the decision of the state government not to allow Jaitley yesterday to visit Kishtwar town,saying the district administration came to conclusion that it was “not an appropriate time” for the BJP leader to go there.
Observing that it was time for restraint,he assured Jaitley and other political leaders that they would be allowed to visit once normalcy is restored.
Giving details of the events that unfolded since Friday last in Kishtwar town,Chidambram said violence erupted after a clash between some individuals and processionists on the day of Eid.
Some of processionists raised “pro-azadi slogans”,he said adding,however,that raising such slogans is not a new phenomenon as it happens “virtually every Friday”.
Two people were killed in Kishtwar,while one was found dead in another area.
“So far death toll is three — one Hindu,two from Muslim community. But all of them are Indians,” he said,adding he deeply regretted this.
On the action taken,he said Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police have been transfered. Also,several people have been arrested and more arrests would follow.
Earlier,Jaitley alleged that the state government had failed to take appropriate measures to control violence and warned that it should not be a repeat of 1990 when an entire minority community was compelled to leave Kashmir Valley.
“The violence in Kishtwar and adjoining areas involves the sovereignty and integrity of the country and should not be seen only as a clash between two communities,” he said.
“This incidence is not just an inter-community conflict,” Jaitley said,adding that flags of another country were waved and pictures of a convict given death sentence displayed.
On his being prevented from going to Kishtwar,he sought to know if government was trying to impose censorship.
He recalled that in the past when such a situation arose then Home Minister Shivraj Patil and later his successor Chidambaram had taken all-party delegations to help people exhaust their anger and calm down tempers.
But now an “iron curtain” has been imposed so that nobody enters the state,the BJP leader alleged.
Attacking the state government,Jaitley said the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not property of any one family.
He said India is not a “banana republic” where an indefinite order is issued under Section 144 banning a person from entering Jammu region.
Peeved at this comment,Union Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah hit back by reminding Jaitley about 2002 Gujarat riots.
“In 2002,Gujarat,in the riots period,did not allow people to go to Ahmedabad. They didn’t deploy the army,” he said.
Abdullah’s party colleague Mohammad Shafi said the incident should not be viewed from a communal angle and it is important to know why such a situation has arisen just before 2014 general elections.
He said the country does not belong to one community.