Stone-pelters in Kashmir are Paid by Our Neighbour, Says Venkaiah Naidu
As the situation in Kashmir shows no signs of easing, CNN-News18’s Marya Shakil spoke to Union minister Venkaiah Naidu about the challenge the government faces in the Valley, the human shield episode and the way forward. Edited Excerpts.
As the situation in Kashmir shows no signs of easing, CNN-News18’s Marya Shakil spoke to Union minister Venkaiah Naidu about the challenge the government faces in the Valley, the human shield episode and the way forward. Edited excerpts:
Q: As Kashmir is staring at another unrest, would you acknowledge that this is perhaps the biggest political challenge for your government?
A: The point is Kashmir has been a challenge since Independence. The Kashmir situation is not created on an account of this government, our government is only 3 years old. Earlier, we were here for five years and tried solving the issue then as well. Even our neighbour is training terrorists and have been sending them here.
Secondly, in this country, there are some people who have soft corner for separatists and terrorists. They are hard on nationalists and soft on terrorists, which complicates the matter.
As far as situation in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we analysed out of entire state. Four to five south Kashmir districts are affected by this, North Kashmir has no problem. Jammu has no problem, Ladakh no problem. So in the entire state, it is only a minor portion but even if it’s one district, problem is a problem, a challenge that we are trying to effectively counter. I have figures with me. When compared with previous UPA government, there have been more terrorist casualties. In 2016, 150 terrorists have been neutralised as compared to 108 during 2015, 110 in 2014, 67 in 2013 and 72 in 2012.
Yesterday, Hizbul Mujahideen's commander who was engaged in anti-national and divisive activities was done away with. Earlier, around 8 to 10 militants have been taken care. So the government is trying to effectively deal with the situation.
Q: Following the controversy around Major Gogoi (human shield episode), your government has come out in support of him.
A: The entire country is in support of Major Gogoi, anybody who has national interest at heart will support him. Why this sympathy with separatists, why sympathy with people who are trying to create problem, why sympathy with people who pelt stones at all? He has used his common sense and rescued the Election Commission officials as well as the local constables from a precarious situation and he has taken them out safely. The country is applauding him and people are happy. Only a section of the people want to show this government, Army in poor light.
Q: So is this a very radical approach now? A new approach from New Delhi?
A: No the point is, whatever is required, Army has a free hand. Secondly, the Centre and the state must act in a coordinated manner. You know that our priority is to keep the unity and integrity of India intact, priority is to control law and order situation, priority is to take care of development of J&K. The PM has announced a massive package and lot of money has been given, The PM has himself repeated a number of times. People themselves, by and large, except some in the affected areas, are not involved in this. It is only a selected few people. TV channels have shown how the Hurriyat is getting money from outside and then how these stone pelters are paid by the neighbour. All these things are organised crime.
Q: Mehbooba Mufti has expressed in the past that since separatists have a role, there should be talks with them. So is there no question of talks with the separatists?
A: They have a role in creating disturbances. As long as anybody indulges in either anti-social or anti-national activities, or questions the unity of the country, what is there to talk? If they express confidence that they are part of India, they have genuine problems, definitely the government will talk to each Kashmiri, provided they are ready to accept the Indian constitution.
Attempts to tar the image of the army are being made systematically by certain sections. Today, there is an entrance exam for junior army officers, 1278 Kashmiri youth sat for the exam, they are writing exam. That shows the positive side of the Indian army, liking for the Indian army by the Kashmiri youth, except that handful of people who are trying to create disturbance at the behest of our neighbour.
Q: There is a new narrative according to you. You think the youth in the Valley want jobs?
A: They want better future, they want jobs. They are part of aspirational India. They want growth, unlike some people.
Q: Who are these people?
A: As I told you, some misguided people, including separatists, undoubtedly. Why is there sympathy for them? Let them make it very clear, why are they silent when civilians are affected?
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