INTERVIEW| National

Kashmir has become a laboratory and a testing ground for all forces: Congress leader Tariq Hameed Karra

Senior J&K politician, Tariq Hameed Karra.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), in a strongly worded political resolution, expressed concern over the rise in violence in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and linked it with events such as China’s aggressive posture, infiltration attempts by Pakistan and Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Senior J&K politician and CWC member, Tariq Hameed Karra, spoke on the security situation and his comments at the CWC that created a political storm. Edited excerpts:

Let’s start with your comments about Sardar Patel’s role with regard to J&K at the CWC meeting. The BJP said your comments were meant to vilify him.

I don’t have to clarify nor do have I to give any explanation. Since you have asked something which is already in the media, I will repeat what I said. We had different set of agendas for the meeting and among them, the serial killings in J&K. When the idea of partition was conceived on religious lines, three States became the bone of contention: Jammu and Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad. In an informal discussion, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru that Junagadh and Hyderabad can be negotiated in lieu of J&K. To this, Pandit Nehru said it will have national and international ramifications and he didn’t want India labelled as a theocratic state like Pakistan. Maybe Sardar Patel got convinced and there was unison. As the other States got integrated into the Union, so was J&K. That’s all I said, which is a historical fact.

The whole incident is being given a different colour. There are issues like inflation, rise in fuel prices and essential commodities, killings of farmers, and a recent report saying hunger levels are going up and even the value of our passport has gone down. So, the BJP wanted to make an issue and give a new narrative. My counter to their vilification charge is that it is they who have vilified the Sardar by removing his name from a stadium in Gujarat and renaming it as Narendra Modi stadium.

Coming to the recent violence in J&K, the CWC resolution seems to suggest a link between Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, hostility with China and Pakistan’s infiltration attempt. What’s your take?

Nothing can be ruled out. Kashmir has become a laboratory and a testing ground for all forces. We can’t rule out but we never vociferously said it is only because of this. These are the external forces but what about your own internal security. You can’t hold China or Pakistan responsible for your own internal security, your failure in intelligence grid is your failure.

You had glorified the abrogation of Article 370 and given a narrative that it [Art 370] was a stumbling block, be it development or political progress. Or the root cause of militancy. It’s more than two years now since you abrogated it, militancy is still there, civilian killings are still there. Many of our soldiers are getting martyred now and it was not of this magnitude earlier. Who is responsible for it? Now, they [the administration] have coined a new term ‘unknown’ gunman to describe the killings. Whose job is it to find them? Government statistics show 32 civilians have been killed so far and 21 were Kashmiri Muslims.

It is either intelligence failure or failure at the borders or a failure of their [the BJP] approach. They have to explain to the nation why our jawans are being martyred after Article 370.

Is there a danger of J&K slipping back to a level of violence that one saw in the 1990s?

I won’t give you a direct answer. I will give an example: When you hold sand in your hand, as long as your grip is tight, not a single particle will come out. But with the passage of time, your muscles will get fatigued and the grip starts loosening and the sand comes out. If you want to bring down the militancy, you want to eradicate from the mind. And that can only be done only by compassion.

There are now demands for holding elections and restoring the Statehood. How will that help in bringing down the violence?

Personally speaking, I would not like to link the violence with passing on the legislative powers to the elected bodies. Violence has its own reasons and genesis. You have to see what your focus is. Either you want to keep the pot boiling or you want to douse the fire. Union Home Minister [Amit Shah] has gone to Kashmir and my expectation would be that as the Home Minister of India, who is in charge of the internal security, he should adopt a holistic approach. And elections are a part of this approach to regain the confidence of the people.

Also Read: Over 700 held in J&K ahead of Amit Shah’s visit

I don’t find any logic for the Government to stagger this process of elections. On the one hand, the Government says everything is alright; hold Block Development Council elections, panchayat and municipal elections but when it comes to Assembly elections, you [the Government] are saying the situation is not right. So, there are two narratives coming out and that is not correct.


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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 6:24:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kashmir-has-become-a-laboratory-and-a-testing-ground-for-all-forces/article37139568.ece

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