Targeting the Opposition for raising human rights concerns in the wake of the Centre’s move to scrap Article 370 and launch an unprecedented communications clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Sunday that 41,800 people have died in the decades-old militancy in the state, but no one has raised the issue of human rights violation of jawans, their widows or the children who were orphaned.
Shah said all world leaders have supported India’s move on Article 370, adding “Where are the restrictions? The restrictions are in your mind, not in Jammu and Kashmir.” Action will be taken against terrorists, he said, but no bullets will be fired on the people of Kashmir.
Speaking on ‘National Security: Current Perspective’ at an event organised by the Former Civil Servants Forum in New Delhi, Shah said: “To those who are asking questions about human rights, I want to ask have they ever thought about the human rights of the widows or children of the 41,800 people killed in J&K so far.”
Incidentally, the Centre, citing statistics, told the Supreme Court on September 16 that “since 1990, 41,866 persons have lost their lives in 71,038 incidents of terrorist violence. This includes 14,038 civilians, 5,292 personnel of security forces and 22,536 terrorists”.
“Lack of telephone services is human rights violation?” he said, adding that soldiers from across the country had sacrificed their lives for the nation in J&K and asked if their families did not have any human rights.
Shah also said that Kashmir had a rich tradition of Sufism, but it was completely uprooted and asked where human rights activists were then. He also referred to the forced displacement of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley and asked why no one was bothered about them.
According to Shah, the Congress government had put Sheikh Abdullah in jail for 11 years. He said, “Why did you put him in jail?… Our’s (scrapping J&K’s special status) is barely two months but you are shouting… You put (him in jail) for 11 years. Under what provision of law did you put an individual in jail for 11 years? Can I ask…? Those who are asking us questions must first answer this.”
The Home Minister underscored that since August 5, when the changes were made to Article 370, not a single bullet had been fired and no life had been lost in J&K. He said that “misunderstandings” were being spread about the situation and that of the 196 police station limits, prohibitory orders had been lifted in all but eight.
All landlines have started working, he said, adding that 10,000 more landlines have been allotted along with 6,200 new PCO’s and over 3.5 lakh persons had availed outpatient facilities and ambulances were distributing medicines to people’s homes.
He also said that Jawaharlal Nehru’s personal decision to take the Kashmir issue to the United Nations was a “Himalayan mistake…even bigger than the Himalayas.”
The Home Minister said that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would have been part of J&K had India not declared a ceasefire when it was in a winning position after hostilities in 1949. Shah termed it an “untimely ceasefire”.
He said Article 370 was a “mistake” which didn’t do anything good to the people of J&K or the rest of the country. “With Article 370, you prevented Kashmiri culture from spreading across the country and restricted it to a limited area”, he said.