Militancy, civilian killings continue despite the amendment to Article 370, says senior J&K politician and CWC member Tariq Hameed Karra
The Congressional Working Committee (CWC) in a strong political resolution expressed concern over the rise in violence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and linked it to events such as China’s aggressive stance, Pakistani infiltration attempts and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Senior J&K politician and CWC member Tariq Hameed Karra spoke about the security situation and his comments at the CWC that sparked a political storm. Edited excerpts:
Let’s start with your comments on Sardar Patel’s role in relation to J&K at the CWC meeting. The BJP said your comments should denigrate him.
I don’t need to clarify nor do I need to make an explanation. Since you asked something that is already in the media, I’ll repeat what I said. We had different agendas for the meeting, including the serial killings in J&K. When the idea of ââdivision from a religious point of view was conceived, three states became a point of contention: Jammu and Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad. In an informal discussion, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel suggested Jawaharlal Nehru negotiate Junagadh and Hyderabad instead of J&K. Pandit Nehru said it would have national and international ramifications and he did not want India to be called a theocratic state like Pakistan. Perhaps Sardar Patel was convinced and there was unison. When the other states were integrated into the Union, J&K also became. That’s all I said, which is a historical fact.
The whole incident takes on a different color. There are issues like inflation, the rise in fuel prices and vital goods, killing of farmers, and a recent report that says hunger is rising and even the value of our passport has gone down. So the BJP wanted to make a topic and give a new narrative. I counter their allegations of defamation that it is they who vilified the Sardar by removing his name from a stadium in Gujarat and renaming it Narendra Modi Stadium.
In light of the recent violence in J&K, the CWC resolution seems to suggest a link between the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, hostility towards China and the Pakistani attempt at infiltration. What are you taking
Nothing can be ruled out. Kashmir has become a laboratory and a testing ground for all forces. We can’t rule it out, but we’ve never loudly said it’s just because of that. These are the external forces, but what about your own internal security? You cannot blame China or Pakistan for your own security, your failure in the intelligence network is your failure.
They had glorified the repeal of Article 370 and given a narration that it [Art 370] was a stumbling block, be it development or political progress. Or the cause of the militancy. It’s now been more than two years since you picked it up, the militancy is still there, there are still civil murders going on. Many of our soldiers are now being martyred, and it was not to that extent before. Who is responsible for that? Now, you [the administration] coined a new term “unknown” shooter to describe the murders. Whose job is it to find them? Government statistics show that so far 32 civilians have been killed and 21 have been Kashmiri Muslims.
It is either a failure of the intelligence services or a failure at the borders or a failure of theirs [the BJP] approach. You must explain to the nation why our jaws are martyred under Article 370.
Is there a risk that J&K will fall back to levels of violence seen in the 1990s?
I am not giving you a direct answer. I’ll give an example: if you hold sand in your hand as long as your grip is tight, not a single particle will come out. But over time, your muscles will tire and the grip will begin to loosen and the sand will come out. If you want to overthrow militancy, you want to root out of the mind. And that can only be done through compassion.
There are now calls for elections to be held and statehood restored. How will that help contain the violence?
Personally, I do not want to associate violence with the transfer of legislative powers to the elected bodies. Violence has its own reasons and origins. You have to see what your focus is. Either you want to keep the pot boiling or you want to put out the fire. Interior Minister of the Union [Amit Shah] went to Kashmir and I expect that as the Interior Minister of India in charge of internal security, he should take a holistic approach. And elections are part of that approach to regaining people’s trust.
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I find no logic for the government to postpone this electoral process. On the one hand, the government says everything is fine; Hold bloc development council elections, panchayat and local elections, but when it comes to parliamentary elections, [the Government] say the situation is wrong. So there are two narratives that come out, and that is not correct.