Senior BJP leader Lal Singh, who was accused of supporting the Kathua gangrape and murder case accused, on Saturday stoked controversy after asking the Kashmiri journalists to draw a line and “take care” of themselves if they do not want to meet the fate of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari.
The former minister’s remarks came days after the death of Bukhari who was shot dead by militants. He was immediately condemned for his remarks by the National Conference as the party said the remarks merited “immediate cognisance” by the state police.
Singh has accused the scribes in the Valley of creating “an erroneous atmosphere” and warned them against crossing the line. “Kashmiri journalists have created an erroneous atmosphere and I would like to ask them to draw a line…You want to live like what happened to Basharat (Shujaat Bukhari)…Take care of yourselves and draw a line so that the brotherhood is not broken and it is maintained so that progress and development is ensured,” Singh told reporters in Jammu on Friday.
BJP leader Lal Singh Chaudhary says in Jammu, “journalists of Kashmir created a wrong environment there. You should draw a line in journalism, so that brotherhood is maintained & there is progress” (22.06.18) pic.twitter.com/8TXaU3rPaZ
— ANI (@ANI) June 23, 2018
The BJP leader was in news recently in connection with the Kathua rape-and-murder case. He has started a campaign for a CBI probe into the case after resigning from the previous PDP-led government in April. He has been highly critical of the media over past few months, especially Kashmir-based journalists, for creating a “wrong perception” about the January incident, a PTI report said.
Singh and his colleague Chander Prakash Ganga had resigned on April 13 over their participation in an earlier rally in support of the accused in the gang rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua district. “We resigned because the perception created by the national media was not good. It portrayed the situation in a wrong way, which was not the case at all. It was portrayed that the entire Jammu region was siding with rapists,” he had earlier claimed.
Meanwhile, the leader was severely criticised by the National Conference, which termed his remarks as “outrageous”. “National Conference strongly condemns the outrageous remarks and threatening of Kashmiri journalists by BJP leader and MLA Chaudhary Lal Singh. This merits immediate cognisance by the @JmuKmrPolice. We hope the law isn’t subverted – party spokesperson,” the party said in a tweet.
Earlier, NC vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on his Twitter account, “Dear journalists, your colleagues in Kashmir just got threatened by a @BJP4India MLA. It seems Shujaat’s death is now a tool for goons to use to threaten other journalists.”
Senior editor Bukhari and his two personal security officers (PSOs) were shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the newspaper’s office in the heart of Srinagar on June 14. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is under Governor’s rule after the end of BJP-PDP alliance on Tuesday. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned after the BJP pulled back its alliance with PDP.