Barely days after he reached out to Jammu and Kashmir invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s mantra of “insaniyat, jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sent a strong message to Pakistan indicting it for fomenting terror in the Valley and reminding it of its “atrocities” in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
“Pakistan forgets that it rains bombs from fighter planes on citizens of its country,” the Prime Minister said in his concluding remarks at an all-party meeting called here to discuss the flare-up in Kashmir in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani. “Time has now come that Pakistan will have to answer to the world about the atrocities being committed on people in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”
Asserting that India is committed to rooting out terrorism — he called it a “national responsibility” — Modi underlined that both “means and ends” are important in this fight. Saying that “PoK is ours,” the PM said that there could be “no compromise with the territorial integrity of India while we are ready to resolve the complaints of all sections within the parameters of the Indian Constitution.” Maintaining law and order is the responsibility of every government, he said.
Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh who addressed a media briefing after the meeting said that all parties were on the same page on the issue and had promised the Government full support toward bringing normalcy in the Valley and the Prime Minister had assured them that he would take their suggestions on board.
Amid a discussion on talks, the Prime Minister drew the contours of any roadmap: “When we talk about Jammu and Kashmir, we should talk about four parts of Jammu and Kashmir —Jammu, Kashmir valley, Ladakh and PoK.”
He said that cross-border terrorism was the fuel behind the turmoil in the Valley. Listing the recovery of arms and ammunition in the Valley and the infiltration of foreign mercenaries to hammer home the point that Pakistan cannot escape its complicity, he said: “Let Pakistan tell lakhs of lies, the world will not accept its false propaganda.”
Modi urged the Ministry of External Affairs to establish contact with people from PoK living in different parts of the world, gather information from them about the “pitiable condition” there and apprise the world of it.
Thanking all parties for their cooperation and solidarity, he said that all states should contact Kashmiris — of any community — who were resident there and try to ensure that they tell their relatives in Kashmir the development story across India.
Saying that Kashmir is an age-old symbol of harmony between different communities, Modi said, “Jammu and Kashmir is not only an issue of our territorial integrity but it also defines our nationalism. We cannot deny the realities that security forces have undergone all kinds of sufferings. Even planned attacks have happened against them and despite all this they have shown patience and control. Statistics tell that security personnel have been injured in large numbers.”
Reiterating that the government still walked the path laid down by Vajpayee towards a resolution to the conflict, he said that “despite the false propaganda…provoking children…every Kashmiri wants peace and believes in democracy.”
He cited elections in Kashmir despite threats by separatists as an evidence of that and vowed to take forward the political process in the Valley and, simultaneously, connect the youth with economic activity.
Modi talked about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, saying “one reality is also that Kashmiri Pandits, who have been living in the Valley for centuries have been displaced from the houses belonging to their forefathers. They were displaced from their land by terrorists trained in Pakistan and this cannot be the work of those who believe in Kashmiriyat.”
“Like all Indians, I am also pained about the recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Whoever is killed or injured, whether civilian or security personnel, everybody feels pain. Our full sympathy is with their families. I feel pained that children are not being able to continue with their studies…shopkeepers are not being able to earn a living. The poor get most affected during such a scenario.”
Asked why the Prime Minister had raised the issue of Balochistan and PoK, Jaitley said Modi’s remarks were in the context of Pakistan’s “interference in the internal matters of India.”
“There was no lacuanae in the government’s policy,” said Jaitley. “All the parties, who spoke at the all-party meeting spoke in one voice. There cannot be any compromise with the issue of security.”
Asked to explain the Government’s handling of the current crisis and whether it was different in character from past flare-ups, Jaitley said: “In 2010, 2012 and 2013, we faced similar situations. India has always shown its resilience. The situation is gradually moving towards improvement.”
He, however, ducked a query when asked whether the government would involve the Hurriyat and other separatist leaders when it holds talks. “Government will decide these things as per the circumstances. There is a national policy. Centre and state do not act in separation from each other on such issues,” he said when asked about the stand of BJP’s ally PDP on the issue.
Regarding the demand of Opposition MPs to send an all-party delegation to the Valley, both Jaitley and Singh said that the matter was not discussed at the meeting today and a decision would be taken in consultation with the state government.
The Home Minister said that all parties spoke in one voice. He said that Centre was moving forward on the promised development package of Rs 80,000 crore to the state and the Finance Ministry would soon release a portion of it.