A LETTER written by a Pakistani Minister to UN officials, which includes a reference to Rahul Gandhi’s comments on J&K, has triggered a political firestorm with the ruling BJP accusing the Congress leader of “insulting the country” and “giving a handle to Pakistan” to target India.
The Congress, meanwhile, slammed Pakistan for “mischievously” dragging Gandhi’s name in the letter. However, the BJP went on the offensive with senior leader and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar demanding an apology from Gandhi.
On Tuesday, Shireen M Mazari, Human Rights Minister in the Imran Khan government, posted on Twitter the letter that, she said, was addressed to “18 Un Special Procedures mandate-holders”. In the eight-page letter, Mazari levelled allegations of “violations of international human rights law” in J&K, and listed Pakistan’s complaints about J&K’s special status under Article 370 being revoked.
In this context, the letter claimed: “These, and other, acts of violence have even been acknowledged by mainstream politicians, such as the Leader of the Congress Party, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, who has noted ‘people dying’ in Jammu and Kashmir, in light of events ‘going very wrong there’.”
On Wednesday morning, Gandhi tweeted: “I disagree with this Govt. on many issues. But, let me make this absolutely clear: Kashmir is India’s internal issue & there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in it.
There is violence in Jammu & Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world.”
Mazari’s letter also refers to remarks by BJP leader and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and BJP MLA Vikram Saini on Kashmiri women — both leaders later claimed that they were misquoted after these remarks triggered a controversy at the time.
Javadekar refused to comment on remarks attributed to Saini and Khattar but described Gandhi’s remarks as “irresponsible”.
”You were very wrong, Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Kashmir is not in a bad condition.There has been no such violence like you mentioned. People did not die there. But Pakistan has used this. In its application to the UN, they have mentioned it,” Javadekar told reporters.
Referring to Gandhi’s tweets, Javadekar said: “Rahul Gandhi today stated that Kashmir is an internal matter and violence is linked to Pakistan, a complete u-turn, why? Because the nation was enraged, they wanted him to.”
Accusing the Congress of resorting to “vote bank politics”, Javadekar referred to Gandhi’s election as MP from Wayanad in Kerala. “Wayanad se jeeta toh soch bhi badali (Winning from Wayanad has changed his thought process),” he said.
Asked what he meant by the remark, Javadekar said Gandhi had changed his constituency and “he was not like this” while representing Amethi earlier. He also said the remark was not about the constituency but its representative.
In its response Wednesday, the Congress said in a statement that the party has “noticed reports citing an alleged petition moved by Pakistani Government to United Nations on Jammu & Kashmir, wherein name of Rahul Gandhi has been mischievously dragged to justify the pack of lies and deliberate misinformation being spread by Pakistan”.
“Let no one in the world be in doubt that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall always remain an integral part of India. No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth,” the statement said.
Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala described Javadekar as a “Misinformation Minister” and accused him of “twisting a statement made by Rahul Gandhi”.
“We are in unison to take on the fake and false propaganda of Pakistan vis-a-vis the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The tragic part is the BJP and Javadekar are trying to politicise a stand unitedly taken for India by Indians and in favour of the entire country in front of the world community,” he said.