Parliament on Wednesday unanimously appealed to people of Kashmir Valley to restore peace and harmony even as the government expressed readiness to hold talks with moderate groups and others.
On the other hand, speaking on the unrest in the state, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reiterated in Rajya Sabha that violence in the state was being fomented by Pakistan.
“Whatever is happening is Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored,” he said
He lauded Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, saying she and her government had done a good job in this difficult situation. In this regard, he gave details about how much ration, milk and other daily essentials have been distributed in Kashmir even during the curfew.
He insisted that only some parts of Kashmir, and not the entire Valley, were under curfew and that in rest of the places, markets were closed due to “fear” owing to strike called by separatists.
“I’m not saying that people living in Kashmir are leading a normal life, but state government is trying its best to provide basic facilities amidst unrest situation created by some vested interest and misguided elements,” he said.
“Despite 100 ambulances being damaged due to stone pelting in the Kashmir region, over 400 ambulances are still operating. Spoke to more than 30 delegations and the CM of J&K after the violence,” the HM further said, adding, “4,515 security personnel and 3,356 civilians have been injured during the protests in Kashmir, so far. Some LeT militants are trying to threaten our security personnel and their families in J&K.”
“Haven’t seen such long discussion on Kashmir in my 20 years in Parliament. If there is anyone who doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘healthy democracy’, they only need watch today’s debate,” Singh pointed out.
Talking about the controversial pellet guns, the HM told the House, “I am not trying to justify the use of non-lethal weapon but it has been used before. Security forces have been instructed to exercise maximum restraint in dealing with protests in Kashmir.”
Singh referred to the remarks made by the PM about ‘Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat’ yesterday while invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that the government was walking on that path.
“We have decided that on August 12, we will hold an all-party meeting at 12 pm soon after the Parliament session ends and the PM will be present,” he said.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad referred to the word going round in Kashmir that the valley will be handed over to the Army after the completion of Amarnath Yatra next week.
“We can’t even think of it. These rumours are being spread deliberately. Nowadays, anything can be said on social media,” Rajnath replied.
Responding to questions by some members as to why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken outside and not in Parliament, Singh said that he “has made me the Home Minister and I have rights. He has confidence in me and whatever I say reflects the same sentiments as his.”
Contending that he keeps discussing the Kashmir issue with PM Modi, Singh said, “one can feel his (PM’s) sentiments by what he said yesterday (in Madhya Pradesh).”
Striking an emotional chord, the Minister said, “Our heart beats in the same way for Kashmir, the way it does for Bihar, Kolkata and Uttar Pradesh. The people of J&K must understand this.”
Appealing for peace, he urged the youth of the state to read books on Islam and not get swayed by those who use religion for to misguide them. “I want to tell people of Kashmir that Islam does not allow killings. Those who raise such ISIS flags are trying to defame Islam,” he said.
Mentioning the recent remarks by Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif on Kashmir, he said, “No power in the world can take Jammu and Kashmir from us. If there will be any talks with Pakistan, it will only be on PoK and not Kashmir.”
The HM said that somebody may praise Islam, Hinduism or any religion but raising slogans praising Pakistan won’t be allowed. “The slogans of ‘Pakistan zindabad’ will not be tolerated in Kashmir,” he said.
At the end of the debate in which 29 members from across the political spectrum spoke, the Rajya Sabha unanimously adopted a resolution, saying – “This House expresses its serious concern over the prolonged turbulence, violence and curfew in the Kashmir valley.”
It added that the House “conveys its deep sense of anguish and concern over the loss of lives and critical injuries caused by the deteriorating situation.”
The resolution asserted that the House “is of the firm and considered view that while there cannot be any compromise on national security, it is equally an imperative that urgent steps are taken to restore order and peace for the alleviation of the sufferings of the people.”
The House “earnestly appeals to all sections of the society in Jammu and Kashmir, to work for the early restoration of normalcy and harmony and unanimously resolves to restore the confidence among the people in general and youth in particular,” it said.
Yesterday, breaking his silence on more than a month of turmoil in Kashmir, PM Modi had advocated a path of “democracy and dialogue” to restore peace in the state.
Reaching out to the people of the turbulent Valley, which has witnessed the death of over 55 people in clashes and a record-breaking curfew in large parts, PM Modi had said in Bhabra that it was painful to see innocent youngsters, who should be holding laptops, books and cricket bats, “handed” stones and had appealed to them for maintaining peace and harmony in the “heaven on earth”.
Obviously alluding to the voices favouring ‘azadi’ (freedom) for the state, he had added that the people of J&K had the same freedoms as enjoyed by every Indian.
These were PM Modi’s first comments on the continuing unrest in the valley in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’ Burhan Wani by security forces on July 8.