Satya Pal Malik, who was the last Governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, said on Sunday that during his time, “terrorists didn’t dare to enter a radius of 50 kilometres around Srinagar”.
Malik, who is now Governor of Meghalaya, was speaking in the context of the string of attacks by suspected terrorists against migrant workers from UP and Bihar, and some local people, in which nine civilians have been killed in the Valley over the past two weeks.
“Jab tha, tab kuchh nahin ho raha tha, na pattharbaazi ho rahi thi, na hi bharti ho rahi thi, na koi mar raha tha… Terrorist Srinagar ke pachaas kilometre ke daayre mein ghusne ki himmat nahi karte the. Ab toh woh maar rahe hain shehr mein khule aam. (When I was there, there was no stone-throwing by protesters, no recruitment [of terrorists], and nobody was dying. Terrorists didn’t dare to enter a radius of 50 km around Srinagar. Now, they are openly killing people inside the city),” Malik told local reporters on the sidelines of an event that he attended in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district.
Malik was Governor from August 2018 to October 2019. It was during his tenure that the constitutional changes of August 5, 2019 took place, and Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status and was divided into two Union Territories.
He declined to say more on the recent killings, but termed them as “extremely painful and disturbing”.
Malik also predicted that if the demands of the protesting farmers were not met, “this government” would not return to power.
“Agar kisanon ki maange nahin maani gayi, to yeh sarkar dobara nahi aayegi. (If the demands of the farmers are not met, then this government will not return),” Malik said. BJP leaders are not even able to enter many villages in Western UP, he added.
“Main to Meerut se hoon. Mere yahaan to koi BJP ka leader kisi gaon mein nahin ghus sakta hai. Meerut mein, Muzaffarnagar mein, Baghpat mein, ghus nahin sakte hain. (I am from Meerut. In my area, no BJP leader can enter any village… In Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, they can’t enter),” Malik said.
Asked if he would give up his post to stand with the farmers, Malik said he already stood with farmers — and while there was no need for him to step down now, he could, if needed, do that as well.
The Meghalaya Governor said Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra ought to have resigned immediately after the incidents of October 3 in Lakhimpur Kheri — and that Mishra did not deserve to be a minister anyway.
“Bilkul ghalat hai, yeh usi din hona chahiye tha. Woh mantri toh waise bhi mantri hone layak nahin hai. (This is definitely wrong. This [resignation] should have happened that very day. Anyway, that minister doesn’t deserve to be a minister.)”
Four farmers were killed in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on October 3 after they were hit by a convoy of three SUVs, including one owned by Minister Mishra. Four other people were killed in the violent incidents that followed. Mishra’s son Ashish alias Monu Mishra was named in the FIR, and was subsequently arrested.
Malik said he had “quarrelled” with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on behalf of the farmers.
“Unke liye main pradhan mantri, griha mantri, sab se jhagda kar chuka hoon. Sabko kah chuka hoon ki yeh ghalat kar rahe ho, yeh mat karo. (For them [farmers], I have quarrelled with the prime minister, the home minister, everyone. I have told everyone that what you are doing is wrong, don’t do this),” he said.
“…Agar sarkar MSP ko guarantee kar de qanooni taur pe toh yeh hal ho jayega. Kisan teenon qanoon wala maamla chhod sakte hain… Kyon nahin kar rahe ho bhai? MSP ke bina toh kuchh hoga hi nahin. (If the government gives a legal guarantee on MSP, this [protest] will be resolved. The farmers might no longer insist on [the repeal] of the three farm laws. Why are you not doing it? Without MSP, nothing can happen.)”
The Sikhs [who are at the forefront of the farm protests] must not be underestimated, the Governor said.
“Khaas taur se, Sikhon ke baare mein yeh log jaante nahin hain… Nihatthe guruon ne poori Mughal samraat se ladaai ladi hai. Toh unko tang nahin karna chahiye (Especially, these people don’t know about the Sikhs… Unarmed gurus took on the Mughal emperor. They [Sikhs] must not be messed with.)”
The Governor said he would convey his opinions to the PM in person. He said that if the government asks, he would be willing to mediate with the farmers.