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PM Modi opened up space for terrorists in Kashmir: Rahul Gandhi in Berkeley

Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-week visit to the US to interact with leaders and overseas Indians, addressed students of University of California in Berkeley.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 12:40 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Narendra Modi,GST
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi criticised the BJP government on its many policies including demonetisation and GST. (Photo: ANI Twitter)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he worked behind the scenes with prime minister Manmohan Singh for nine years to normalise situation in Kashmir but the good work was undone by the BJP when it came to power in 2014.

From 2004, he along with Singh, P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh silently worked to ensure that peace returned to Jammu and Kashmir, the 47-year-old leader said, talking about the year Congress-led UPA government won the Lok Sabha election.

“When we started, terrorism was rampant in Kashmir. When we finished there was peace. By 2013, we had basically broken the back of terror,” he told students at the University of California in Berkeley, speaking on India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward.

The Manmohan Singh government served two consecutive terms before the BJP demolished the Congress in 2014.

The UPA government held panchayat elections, created women self-help groups, provided employment to the youth, building their confidence.

“I hugged PM Manmohan Singh and told him it was one of his biggest achievements,” Gandhi said.

The Congress accuses the Modi government of throwing Kashmir back to the days of turmoil.

The Kashmir Valley was rocked by violent street protest in the 2016 after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with security forces on July 8. More than 100 people, most of them civilians, were killed in clashes with security forces.

Gandhi credited erstwhile partner the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with playing a key role in bringing the youth to the mainstream.

The Congress tied up with the PDP, which has its support base in Kashmir, in 2002 after the assembly election threw up a hung House. The two parties decided to share power for three years each – unlike other states of India, Jammu and Kashmir assembly has a six-year term.

While the PDP got its three years, the Congress stint was cut short due to the Amarnath land agitation in 2008. The PDP withdrew its support, after the Congress-led Centre give a piece of forest land in Muslim-majority Kashmir for pilgrims visiting the revered Hindu shrine of Amarnath.

The allotment was cancelled but the PDP didn’t budge and the government fell a few months before completing its term.

In the December 2008 assembly election, the Congress was again part of the ruling alliance but with a new partner, the National Conference (NC).

“The PDP was instrumental in bringing youth to politics, but the day PM Modi made an alliance with the PDP, he destroyed them,” said the Congress leader who is on a two-week visit to the United States.

In 2014, Gandhi said, the BJP-led government inflicted a huge strategic cost on India by joining hands with the PDP.

The PDP emerged as the largest party with 28 seats, most of which were from the Muslim-majority Valley, while the BJP swept the Hindu-dominated Jammu region with 25 seats. The NC got 15, the Congress 12 and the others seven in the 87-member House.

PDP founder and late chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the first and till now, the only Muslim home minister of the country, was keen on an alliance with the BJP in deference to the mandate of people in Jammu.

Sayeed, who died on January 7, 2016, had described the alliance as coming together of the North and the South Poles, a decision that gave the BJP its first taste of power in the Muslim-majority state.

“When this happened, I heard that large numbers of youth went towards militancy. PM Modi massively opened up a space for terrorists in Kashmir, and we saw an increase in violence,” Gandhi said.

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 11:02 IST