Rajmohan Gandhi’s article ‘Lal Before the Storm’ (Hindustan Times, August 20) was disappointing for not only misrepresenting the essence of L.K. Advani’s letter to the Prime Minister but also for misquoting him. Gandhi wrote “For the first time, an important political leader has suggested that not just the terrorists but all the people of the Kashmir Valley are adversaries — foes of the Motherland, of the national flag, and of the Army.” This could be his suggestion but surely not of Advani, who has concluded his letter to the PM by writing, “I feel greatly saddened by the loss of so many lives, be it in Jammu or in Kashmir Valley.”
Unfortunately the word ‘Kashmiri Muslims’ was used by the writer and not by Advani. Moreover, Gandhi has equated the unrest in Jammu and the Valley to Muslim versus Hindu whereas Advani has said in the third para of his letter, “The problem in J&K today is not Hindu versus Muslim, nor is it even Jammu region versus the Valley. It is essentially nationalists versus the separatists.”
Gandhi has rightly said, “A difficult reality can be dealt with in two ways. It can be admitted, deplored and corrected. Or it can be welcomed with glee, presented as a fundamental and unchangeable truth and used as a political springboard.” I wish he had the courage to admit, deplore and correct the “shameful surrender” of the UPA and J&K government under pressure from separatist forces in the matter of the Amarnath land row. I wish he had stood up and lamented PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti when she called for dual currency in J&K and marching across the LoC. I wish he had the strength to criticise Lalu and Mulayam for supporting SIMI or condemned the Congress Party when their spokesperson had equated Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti to the separatist organisation Hurriyat Conference. Many such ‘springboards’ were made available but Gandhi decided to ignore them.
Advani has narrated the facts by reminding Manmohan Singh of the existing ‘Jammu and Kashmir Shri Amarnathji Shrine Act 2000’ and detailing Section 16 of the Act defining the duties of the Shrine Board which emanates from the provisions of Articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution. The Act is in consonance with the secular polity of India — something the UPA government has ignored for the sake of vote bank politics. Advani has rightly asked the PM to wake up and implement the law.
I don’t think by asking any government to ensure that the law of the land be implemented, one risks being criticised, by any stretch of the imagination, for ‘jumping on a political springboard’, as the writer has accused Advani of doing.
Sidharth Nath Singh is a National Executive Member, BJP.