The BJP has used the precarious security situation in Jammu and Kashmir sadly, as a ‘milchcow’ to milk and polish it’s so-called ‘nationalistic image’ for the rest of the country. This has been Modi Government’s biggest disservice to the nation.
Former RAW chief, A. S. Dulat in a fascinating book- “The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace”; which he has co-authored with former director-general of the ISI, Asad Durrani makes a very significant remark on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. He writes, ‘Empathy is the key to understanding Kashmir… there can be no peace or forward movement in Kashmir, so long as we keep relating it to elections elsewhere in the country…’
This is exactly what the BJP, freshly divorced from its alliance with the PDP is not understanding. Jammu and Kashmir cannot be a template to win votes in the rest of the country. BJP, being the national party had the onus of preserving pro-India democracy in the state. BJP, being the party ruling at the Centre had the prime responsibility to uphold National Security in the state. BJP, being the big brother in the alliance had the responsibility to ensure that the alliance government functions according to the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, on all these accounts, the BJP has miserably failed the people of the state.
Instead, the BJP plunged the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the deep dark edge of an abyss, from where it will be very difficult to return. This is the first time that BJP attained such a larger political role to play directly in the Kashmir policy, but neither it has been able to convince its own core constituents and supporters of hyper-nationalism, nor it has been able to support political commentators of the state.
A seemingly small development in Kashmir can precipitate into grave socio-political repercussions. Be it the Amarnath shrine land controversy of 2008 or be it the stone pelting unrest of 2010. Be it the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani in the same period, two years ago or the merciless assassination of ‘Rising Kashmir’s editor, Shujaat Bukhari, just last month- a small spark can lit a blaze in Kashmir. In an environment where Pakistan sponsored terrorism thrives, separatists are waiting for an opportunity to fuel tensions and young people are increasingly getting alienated and picking up stones; these sparks provide a fertile opportunity for anti- India sentiments to flourish. Rank political opportunism and the sheer lust of power of the BJP-PDP exacerbated the situation in the past few years.
Endangering National Security
16 Major Terror Attacks have taken place on our Security Installations that include CRPF Camps, Army Camps, Air Force Station and Military Stations- Pampore, Uri, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amarnath, Yatra attack, Sunjwan Camp attack where scores of our precious lives have lost. Nevertheless, Modi Government, diametrically opposite to its ‘nationalistic image’ foolishly invited Pakistan based rogue ISI to investigate the Pathankot attack. To the surprise of many of their own core supporters, BJP President, Amit Shah, in a speech made on March 30, 2016 in Kolkata said that “Pakistan has made serious efforts in the Pathankot terror probe” Since May 26, 2014, during Modi Government- In the last 49 months, 386 Jawans have been martyred and 246 civilians have died in Jammu and Kashmir alone. During last 49 months of Congress Govt, 139 Jawans martyred & 78 Civilians killed. (Source: South Asian Terrorism Portal)
Facts are sacrosanct and they cannot be tampered with. Therefore, the BJP then tried hard to build a narrative that, due to the Central Government’s ‘muscular’ J & K policy, more militants are being killed. Facts then belied that claim too.
Under PDP-Congress (2003-08): 4,970 militants were killed by security forces
• Under NC-Congress (2009-14): 925 militants were killed
• PDP-BJP (2015-18): 591 militants were killed (Source: South Asian Terrorism Portal)
The belated announcement of ‘conditional ceasefire’, which was a historical failure during the NDA-1, also did not rescue the situation.
Creating disquiet at the border
In past 49 months, there have been 3000 Ceasefire Violations’ by Pakistan at LoC & IB as compared to 563 Ceasefire Violations during last 49 months of Congress Government. Cross Border Infiltration from across Pak has largely remained intact under the Modi regime. (Source: Ministry of Home Affairs)
Atmosphere of fear and radicalization amongst the youth of the state
The public lynching of DSP AyubPandith and the Kathua rape already shook the conscience of the nation. The recent horrific killing of editor Shujaat Bukhari, in the heart of the Press Enclave in Srinagar and the abduction and subsequent killing of Army Jawan, Aurangzeb and now a police constable are events which reflected intelligence failures and high handedness on part of both the centre and the state governments.
Schools were burnt; youths were forced out of work, and radicalization become rampant with stone pelting becoming almost like a profession. Alarming increase in stone pelting incidents has deteriorated the situation.
Hobnobbing with terrorist elements and separatists
On December, 14, 2016 – The PDP-BJP coalition government announced compensation for slain HizbulMujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani’s elder brother, who was killed by the security forces in 2013. Rs 4 lakh compensation and a government job from the state, was announced which created a huge controversy, thereby again proving that BJP is anything but ‘nationalistic’.
For the first time ever, we have witnessed ISI Flags in J&K. Utter hypocrisy of the BJP in engaging with the Hurriyat reminds us of the Vajpayee- Advani era where the PM did engage with the Hurriyat. It is important to note that in Manmohan Singh never met the Hurriyat, except once in 2005, which was a continuation of the process started by the previous NDA government. Dealing with separatists like MasaratAlam who was released and AsiyaAndrabiwho was displayed as the ‘poster girl’ of ‘BetiBachao’ campaign further fractured BJP’s plank of nationalism.
Being asleep at the wheel, as development suffered
Contrary to the claims by BJP President, Amit Shah, less than 25% of the much-hyped Rs 80,000 Cr package announced by the PM, was utilized by the BJP-PDP Govt. Rampant corruption in flood relief and development schemes, coupled with inaction has marred the tenure of the BJP-PDP Government in which they were equal partners. Tourism has dropped exponentially.
Betraying the trust of people of Jammu, Kashmir &Ladakh by making false promises
People of Jammu were promised AIIMS, IIM’s and medical colleges, which have not taken off. BJP-PDP government did nothing for resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits. On the other hand, Congress-UPA built more 5242 flats in Jammu for Kashmiri Pandits alloted.1,024 such flats at Muthi, Purkhoo & Nagrota has already been allotted since 2008. Not to forget that, people of Ladakh were betrayed by promising a UT Status and Hill Councils, but nothing materialized.
Jammu and Kashmir had benefitted for years from the relative peace and normalcy resulting from focused and sustained attention from the then Congress- UPA Government, that had ensured the development of infrastructure, promotion of tourism, generation of employment and above all creation of the mutual trust. On the contrary, the BJP has shunned it and ran away to embolden it’s deteriorating ‘nationalistic image’ for the rest of the country.
Being a national party, it was the BJP’s responsibility to engage and build a trust with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and establish a roadmap for societal inclusion and development of all its three regions. But it completely failed which was evident by the lowest ever voter turnout of 7% in the Srinagar (Lok Sabha) by-poll. It is extremely painful that the Election Commission of India was forced to cancel a Lok Sabha by-poll (Anantnag) as Modi Government refused to deploy extra troops for ensuring free & fair elections.
(Rachit Seth is part of the Communications Department of the Congress party. He can be contacted on Twitter @rachitseth . Views expressed here are personal in nature)