The “Jammu versus Kashmir” battle, as the TV channels have monikered it, has raised the very real spectre of another Partition of the country. What started off, or seemed to start off, over the ham-handed dealing of the allotment of land for the Amarnath Shrine Board, has quickly dissolved into a barely disguised slugfest that threatens the very integrity of the Indian Republic.
Suddenly, azadi is not just a word on the lips of separatists in the Valley.
While the Congress’ part in creating the mess in the first place has been correctly questioned, the BJP’s bellicose role in fanning the flames and bringing things to such a pass has not come for adequate scrutiny. Only Karan Thapar has found it fit to tackle the BJP’s methods. On Saturday, it was Rajiv Pratap Rudy. On Sunday, it was Arun Jaitley who got the treatment on Devil’s Advocate.
Karan Thapar: Let me come to the core issue that you do not want to focus upon and it is this. For the last ten years increasingly, the separatist movement was dying down. This year there was a record turnout of tourists. And yet, what has the BJP-implemented economic blockade in Jammu done? It has inflamed separatist tendencies to the point at which the separatists today are thanking you. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most hard-lined Islamist, has publicly said, “I thank the BJP for reviving a movement which was lagging.”
Arun Jaitley:I do not think that we need that compliment or thanks from him. Let me make it clear. We are only supporting the demand of the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti in Jammu and the demand precisely is this. You have lakhs of tourists going, the shrine board has a duty under law to maintain pilgrim facilities.
The shrine board has legitimately been transferred some land which is to be used during the yatra. And if the Government of India starts to come under pressure from the separatists then it will not have legitimacy.
Thapar: It’s not the fact that you supported the Amarnath demand that I question, it’s the manner in which you did it and the consequences of your support. You have cut off the Valley; you have generated a feeling amongst the people of Kashmir that they do not belong.
As a result you have inspired in them a desire for azadi and secession. Movements were latent have now revived, Suddenly, you have the whole valley, in voice shouting, ‘jeeye jeeye Pakistan, Bharat teri maut ayee! (Long live Pakistan; India, you are dead.). And your blockade is solely responsible for it.
Jaitley: Well I reject this suggestion that you are making in total. Your saying and suggesting that there is a blockade only aids the false propaganda that is spread by the separatists. It is not I alone who reject this. This is supported by what the journalists flown by the Army helicopters have to say.
Thapar: What about those journalists who live there?
Jaitley: Cameras do not lie, people do. And therefore I have seen it on camera that there was no blockade.
Thapar: Cameras have shown hundreds of thousands of Kahmiris waving Pakitani flags, demanding azadi; administration has collapsed. You are the cause.
Jaitley:Cameras have also shown four lakh people holding the national flag and courting arrest in Jammu, peacefully saying that give us this land for pilgrim facility.
Thapar: But could you have not demanded it without a blockade?
Jaitley: There was no blockade. The blockade is a lie perpetuated by the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and supported by Hurriyat. And that is why I will request every Indian journalist not to believe the lies spread by these organisation. I would request every Indian journalist to give no credibility to such lies.
Thapar: Except the fact that it is believed by everyone in the Valley that and let me quote something….
Jaitley: It is rebutted by the Army, the district administration and by the state government, the government of India. You have all these words against your word.
Thapar: Except the fact that the information secretary of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is also among those who are thanking your party. Let me quote to you what he said.
Jaitley: Hurriyat and LeT’s word may carry weight with you. They do not carry weight with me.
Thapar: Unfortunately, they carry weight with the people of the valley.
Jaitley: That is the tragedy. It should not carry weight with the people of the valley, that’s what we are to jointly decide.
Thapar: You are creating a situation where it increasingly does. You are not undermining the influence, you are adding to it.
Jaitley: We are only creating a situation where people in the Valley should not raise a demand that is separatist in character and the government of India should not cow down to a demand that is separatist in nature.
Thapar: But look at the way that you have inflamed separatist sentiments. This is what the information secretary of the LeT has been saying. He says, ‘The BJP suits us. LeT is getting a good response due to the BJP’s sentiments.’ Then he says, ‘We pray to God they come to power again. Then we will emerge even stronger.’ What Pakistan failed to do in sixty years, you have done it in six weeks.
Jaitley:We have been in power at the centre for six years. We initiated the peace process, and moved Kashmir in the direction of peace.
Thapar: And now you are moving it all the way towards Pakistan.
Jaitley: I am sorry, we are not doing that. All we are saying is that if separatists raise a demand; do not allow the aspirations of the nationalists to be cowed down.
Thapar: Without thinking and just because you have the best interests of your party in mind, you are once again pushing Jammu into a divide with the Valley….
Read the full transcript: ‘Jammu discriminated, Kashmir favoured‘