Nirmal Singh interview: ‘After Rahul Bhat’s killing, Kashmiris hit roads to protest it… this is a ray of hope… Assembly polls may be held by Oct-Dec’

Amid the outcry over the recent murder of a Kashmiri government employee Pandit immigrant, Rahul BhattBy militants in the Budgam district of central Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) feels that apart from the government’s preventive measures for the immigrant community, their permanent return to their homes in the valley will only be possible when the local majority community also comes in their support. This was clarified by Union Territory BJP Leader Nirmal Singh, Former Deputy Chief Minister of J&K State, in an interview with Indian Express. Excerpts:

In light of the continuing incidents of targeted killings of minority sects by terrorists in Kashmir, how do you feel about the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the valley?

It is not that all the people in Kashmir are with the terrorists and separatists. For the first time, people, including those of the majority, have taken to the streets in protest of the killing of Rahul Bhatt at the hands of militants – and this is the only solution. Although they did the candle march, it is a positive development that gives me a feeling that there is still a glimmer of hope. However, it was not yet clear how many people from the majority community would walk out with the fear of guns remaining, but they would have to advocate for a lasting peace in the valley. This is how we were able to eliminate terrorism in the former Doda region. People stood there and fought the terrorists.

What could make the Pandits feel safe in the valley and could stay there permanently?

The BJP believes that the Kashmiri Pandits will be able to return home permanently when they have full protection and security, regardless of the atmosphere in which they can live with honor and feel powerful there. Its population may be only 4-5 per cent of the total population, but they are part of its democratic structure and only then can they feel like partners in the Kashmiri society. While the government is working in this direction, the Boundary Commission has also recommended that the Center consider a provision to nominate at least two Kashmiri immigrants, including a woman, to the Legislative Assembly.

Until then, what should the government do to ensure the safety of the minority community members working and residing in Kashmir?

Nowadays, Kashmiri immigrant employees deployed in the valley have security only in the places where they reside in the government neighbourhoods. From there, they have to travel long distances to their places of work and on the way they can be an easy target. Apart from them, we also have a large number of Scheduled Castes that live in the inland areas of Kashmir. There are Dogra, Brahmins and others… They are also easy targets. Last year, the principal of Satyendra Kaur and a teacher at a government school in Edga district of Srinagar was murdered.

All of these people must also be assigned to a district headquarters that has a secure environment. If they stay and work in safe areas, things will be different because it may not be possible to provide security in every village where a teacher from the minority community is deployed. Meanwhile, the government has to speed up the process of building temporary accommodations for the residence of Kashmiri Pandit migrants in six places until they go to their places of origin.

How is the situation in your opinion at the present time?

We are gradually moving towards normal life, but Pakistan and ISI and also their sympathizers are trying to spoil the atmosphere through terrorists who resort to targeted killing to stop development and disturb the peace. While they target Kashmiri Pandits and other Hindus working there because their presence in the valley is one of the criteria for showing normalcy, they are not even crazy about Muslim police officials and others including strangers whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. They are the enemies of peace. However, there is another side to the image as well. The situation is well under control as the terrorists are escaping – they are being killed daily and their leaders are neutralized in a very short time.

How do you see the continued targeting of minorities by terrorists?

As the police and security forces put pressure on them, they change their strategy. Sometimes it seems that they succeeded, but you see that the government, the security forces and the people will eventually succeed and will surely defeat these enemies of peace.

What changes after August 5, 2019, when the Center moved to repeal Article 370?

The first benefit of the constitutional changes was to strike at the root cause of separatism. Psychologically the people, especially the Kashmiris, are starting to understand that this is our system and now they are questioning all these leaders who used to exploit and mislead them in the name of the special status of J&K regarding its relations with India, saying that there will be streams of blood and no one will be left to support the color National Trio.

Today, private investors come, tourists come, and people earn their living. The government is talking about an investment of Rs 70,000 crore in the private sector. Development is underway, road construction … All this benefits people. A large number of jobs will be created after private investment on this massive scale. It all started after 2019 and it takes time for things of this magnitude to materialize. Kashmir is experiencing a thriving tourism season and there has been a huge increase in the number of pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. It is beneficial if all rooms in hotels are occupied.

The way the stone-throwing stopped and there was no call for Pandeh in Kashmir, the ordinary Kashmiri began searching with hope for peace and development. People appreciate the decisive actions the government is taking to not only eradicate terrorism but also to dismantle the entire ecosystem that has supported them. The common people also want lasting peace and development for a better future for their children and so they started providing information that leads to the elimination of terrorists and their leaders within days of joining the ranks of terrorism. In view of facing such a great defeat, the terrorists supported by Pakistan, like cowards, began to target the innocent and defenseless unfortunate. Rahul Bhatt’s murder is also one in that series.

How do you see the role of the Kashmiri leadership in the normalization of the status of Utah?

The Kashmiri leaders, especially the former chief ministers, are trying to stir up the atmosphere by pouring oil on the fire through their rhetoric. They do not support the Kashmiri Pandits and do not care about the others in the valley, but only rants about them. They only talk about the Kashmiris, but they are not outspoken against the terrorists, who are challenging the Kashmiris by killing innocent people on a daily basis.

Now, as their agenda fails, they have begun to raise a question mark on all the constitutional institutions in the country, be it the Boundary Commission, the Supreme Court and even the democratically elected Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By doing so, they are indirectly supporting Pakistani terrorism and strategy.

The Boundary Commission is chaired by a retired Supreme Court Justice with members such as the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioner at J&K. It has associate members, and they all met with the commission, held discussions and lodged protests. Like them, the BJP also submitted its statements, but the commission did not accept many of them. However, they (the Kashmiri leaders) have begun to question the demarcation process.

But they complain about restrictions on their political activities?

Following the government’s move after August 5, 2019, their activities have been contained to some extent, which has led to the normalization of the situation over the past two years. They were later invited to Delhi on the initiative of Prime Minister Modi and during the meeting their talks generated the impression of fighting them through democratic means, but then they again resort to the same old things to address and rally their separatist circle. Audience vote. The government will have to deal with them, too. While they are allowed to carry out their activities within constitutional means and democratic standards, no one is allowed to spoil the atmosphere.

What is the BJP’s move to confront them politically?

We also organize many programs to expose it and restore people’s trust. Our leaders and workers are trying to reach the people of Kashmir through democratic means.

Our party chief and other leaders meet there not only Kashmiri Pandits, but also people from other communities. I was also in South Kashmir recently. For us, all victims of terrorism, regardless of their caste and religion, are Indians and have given their lives for the nation. The BJP is operating there with this in mind.

We also try to reach every household in the valley to inform people of the various central public welfare schemes. Although there are more than 150 such schemes, we mainly focus on six of them including Ayushman Bharat, e-Shram Card, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, Old Age and Widow Pension – and helping people get certified Residence, which is required to avail the benefits of all government schemes. We have full data … the names of people who have been excluded, and the areas that have not yet been done. While in Kashmir, the 100 per cent chance of saturation of the benefits of these government schemes is less, but in Jammu regions like Basoli, where the party has entrusted the job to me, we have tried to reach every household. Through J&K, we conduct political activism and public service at the same time. At the party headquarters in Jammu, senior BJP leaders were tasked with holding daily sessions on a rotating basis to act as a bridge between the people and the administration by listening to the grievances of the former and then getting them compensated by the latter. People of all communities come from places like Poonch, Rajouri, Kishtwar and Doda. The idea is to restore trust between people and expose the separatists and their sympathizers who mislead them. Similar meetings to raise grievances in Kashmir may be planned soon.

When will the J&K Association polls take place?

Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have already said that the elections will be held immediately after the completion of the constituency delimitation in the assembly. Now, with the demarcation process winding down after the Demarcation Commission has submitted its final report to the government, elections are expected to take place any time now. We can hope to hold these between October and December this year.

Will J&K become a state after the assembly elections?

It has already been said at the highest level in the country that the state will be restored after the situation returns to normal in J&K. We at J&K are fighting a proxy war, and to defeat it there is every possibility that the Center will maintain law and order under its direct control for some time. We also stayed in the government and saw that there was one direction for the security forces and the police in the meetings of the consolidated headquarters headed by the Prime Minister. However, after the meeting, the district deputies were directed to release one or another person.

What do you think of the Boundary Commission’s attempt to ask the Center to consider the provision of appointing some representatives of IDPs from the J&K area of ​​Pakistan to the Assembly?

It will be of strategic importance. Imagine someone from Mirpur, Muzaffrabad, Bhimber or Rawlakote from POJK standing in the J&K assembly and raising his voice to his people, who are facing atrocities and backwardness in those areas across the Line of Control. This is the best thing the Boundary Commission has done by recommending its nomination to the Conference. While Pakistan already had such a reservation on its part, we have kept their seats in our Assembly vacant. We want at least eight seats to be filled by their representatives through nomination. And for this there must be a disingenuous system that whoever takes power in John & Coopers tomorrow, those seats are not filled on petty political considerations.

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