Raising questions of Constitutional propriety, Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy Tuesday said he supported a retired Army officer’s suggestion to boycott Kashmir and Kashmiris economically. His remarks come at a time when Kashmiris, particularly students, have been targeted by Hindutva groups protesting against the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
“An appeal from a retired Colonel of the Indian Army: Don’t visit Kashmir, don’t go to Amarnath for the next 2 years. Don’t buy articles from Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesman who come every winter. Boycott everything Kashmiri. I am inclined to agree,” said Roy on Twitter.
His remarks drew sharp criticism from former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Abdullah said: “People like Tathagata want Kashmir but without Kashmiris. They’d sooner see us driven into the sea. He’ll be best placed to know he can’t have one without the other so what’s it to be?”
Mufti called for him to be sacked. “Deplorable statement coming from the Governor of Meghalaya. GoI must sack him immediately. If they fail to do so, it means he has their tacit approval and are using it as an election ploy to polarise the situation,” she said.
Roy told The Indian Express that “new methods” have to be tried to counter the insurgency in Kashmir. “It is a non-violent way of reacting to what has been going on for the last 2-3 decades… we have been fighting the separatists in Kashmir with limited success, we have not been able to subjugate them – our soldiers are dying,” he said.
“No one thinks about the 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits. They have been made beggars on the streets. New methods have to be tried out. This is a non-violent method that was suggested by an Army Colonel. I said I incline to agree, yes, that’s on record.”
An appeal from a retired colonel of the Indian Army: Don’t visit Kashmir,don’t go to Amarnath for the next 2 years. Don’t buy articles from Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesman who come every winter. Boycott everything Kashmiri.
I am inclined to agree
— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) February 19, 2019
This is not the first time Roy has courted controversy on Twitter. In 2015, commenting on the “fighting back” nature of Hindus, Roy tweeted, “One exception was Gujarat, 2002. I’m glad you appreciate what the Hindus did then.” In June 2017, he had said: “Syama Prasad Mookerjee wrote in his diary on 10/1/1946: “The Hindu-Muslim problem won’t b solved without a Civil War”. So much like Lincoln!”
And after the Pathankot attack, “I seriously suggest Russian treatment to terrorists’ carcasses. Wrap them in pigskin, bury them face down in pig excreta. No chance of Houris.” This was later deleted.
After his comments on Twitter were criticised Tuesday, he wrote: “Vociferously violent reactions from media and several others to my ECHOING OF a suggestion from a retired Army Colonel.”
Asked if he was violating the Constitutional oath, Roy said that he was “bothered” only about what is written in the Constitution and not people’s personal opinions. “See, everybody in this country is an expert on the Constitution. Everybody is trying to say that this is in accordance with the Constitution and this is against the Constitution. Everybody has a right to have his opinion but that does not mean I am bound by those opinions. I am bound by what is written down in the Constitution and as it has been interpreted by different courts — high courts and the Supreme Court,” he said.
Roy also criticised Twitter for not “verifying” his profile and said there was a “bias” in verifying profiles by Twitter.