The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party of Jammu and Kashmir, on Wednesday rejected the contention that the unrest in the state is because of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and blamed the actions by the Congress and National Conference since 1948 for the loss of trust in democracy among the people of the valley.
In a strong and emotional speech in Lok Sabha during discussion on the Kashmir situation, senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said the Indian government should use its moral authority to resolve the problems of the state rather than using military authority.
Slamming Pakistan for its interference in Kashmir, he said people of the Valley are being “misguided”, and expressed faith in the Narendra Modi government, saying “if you can’t do it (resolve the problems), who can do it?”
He wondered whether Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing in an encounter with security forces triggered the unrest, could have been arrested instead of being gunned down.
In this context, the former minister of Jammu and Kashmir cited examples of how some militants had earlier given up the gun and contested elections to join the mainstream.
Rejecting allegations by critics that the current unrest is due to the PDP joining hands with the BJP to form the government, Baig said, “nobody can accuse them (BJP) of being traitors”.
Seeking to turn tables on his opponents, Baig went back into history and blamed the Congress and the National Conference, without naming them, for repeated controversial actions since 1948 when Prajapati Parishad was not allowed to contest polls.
He said Kashmiris lost faith in democracy due to actions like installing “un-elected governments” and dismissing elected governments besides rigging elections.
He said the rigging of the 1987 polls, allegedly by the National Conference-Congress combine, was the “deepest cut” to the faith of Kashmiris in democracy as these elections had been contested even by those who did not believe in the Indian Constitution but wanted to repose trust in the poll process.
In this regard, he gave the example of the chief of militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, whose original name is Mohd Yusuf Shah, contesting the elections which were “rigged”.
Baig said Yasin Malik, now the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief, was Shah’s polling agent and was “tortured” by police after National Conference-Congress came to power.
Taking objection to certain remarks of Baig against the Congress, party member KC Venugopal said the message should be given that the country is united on the Kashmir issue.
Referring to historical incidents, the PDP leader said a “fraud” had been played on Kashmiris by propagating that they are not pro-India and are pro-Pakistan.
Blasting Pakistan for interfering in Kashmir, Baig said the neighbouring country had become a victim of its own policies and as a result, it has Balochistan “burning” and faces problems in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Appreciating the efforts of the central government, Baig disapproved of the criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Kashmir situation, saying he should not be dragged into each and every issue.
He defended Modi over him playing drums during his Africa visit when Kashmir was burning, saying the Prime Minister was “making history [in Africa]”.
According to him, a kind of romanticism is being made about terrorism, which has become a business.
Talking about Wani’s killing, Baig wondered whether he could have been arrested. “Was it possible to arrest or inevitable to kill?... He (Wani) was not an invisible ghost or an Osama Bin Laden... At least for the sake of having a good judgement, it should be looked into whether Wani could have been arrested,” he said.
Taking objection to certain anti-Muslim remarks made by a leader whom he did not name, Baig said, “Muslims are as good an Indian as the Prime Minister... and Kashmiris are as good an Indian as Rajnath Singh”.
When Venugopal intervened, the PDP leader said, “Aap logon ne hamari awaaz dabayi hai (you people have suppressed our voice)”.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs SS Ahluwalia told Venugopal that if “we don’t allow him to speak in the tallest temple of democracy, then where is he going to speak”.