Amarnath protesters demonstrate in Jammu on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Aug. 21: The BJP feels the time has come to take firm action against the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir who openly flaunt their allegiance to Pakistan.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph today, Rajnath Singh, the president of the main Opposition party, dismissed suggestions that the BJP had pushed Kashmir back into the separatists arms and wondered why the role of pro-Pakistan elements was not being scrutinised as ruthlessly.
Q: Kashmir is on the boil and many people feel the BJP has added fuel to the fire.
A: This is a wrong perception. The BJPs politics is aimed at strengthening national integration. The situation has come to such a pass because of the present J&K governor, the state government and the central government, which succumbed to the separatists pressure. The BJP is only supporting a nationalist movement by the ordinary people of Jammu.
Q: What is the way out now?
A: There are two things the government should do. One, it should restore the land given to the Amarnath shrine board. Two, it should take tough action against the separatists.
Q: What do you mean by tough action? Use of force?
A: It is for the government to assess what action is required. The people who shout slogans in favour of Pakistan, display Pakistani flags and abuse Indian soldiers cannot be forgiven. India cannot be so fragile.
Q: But Kashmir has a history of pro-Pakistan sentiments and successive Indian governments have been dealing with it with caution. There is a school of thought that nothing should be done to strengthen the terrorists and separatists in the Valley. After all, the hard-liners had been alienated after a series of peace initiatives.
A: You have to see things in their totality. The outburst of anger in Jammu is not only because of the Amarnath land. This is because of 60 years of neglect and discrimination. It is a spontaneous feeling of the masses now that this injustice and unjust attitude of a handful of people in the Valley will not be tolerated.
The government misread this movement and thought some political party was instigating them. In fact, the nation should decide about those parties who have supported the separatists in the Valley. The Election Commission should analyse their behaviour and take action against them.
Q: Are you suggesting there is no middle path, no meeting ground to find a solution?
A: There can be no middle path when the question of national integration is involved. The pro-Pakistani elements who have no commitments towards India cannot be treated on a par with the nationalists agitating in Jammu. The central government should forget vote-bank politics, stop viewing this national problem through the prism of religion and communities, and act tough.
Q: You are not even mentioning dialogue, you only want tough action.
A: Tough action is required to arrest the drift. We only want the government to implement the high court order. Cant the government show the will to do that? Is there no rule of law in Kashmir; does it have jungle raj? We dont believe every Kashmiri Muslim is a separatist. There are patriotic people in the Valley, too. But the government must show the courage to separate the separatists and handle them with an iron hand.
Q: Has the government shown such a resolve? Do you believe the Union home minister will rise to the occasion?
A: We doubt that. What we have seen so far is total paralysis of governance. The government buckled under pressure from separatists, which was masterminded by the ISI, and then adopted a do-nothing approach.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is doing everything to destabilise India. The fake currency menace is one such example.
Q: If the situation is that bad, shouldnt the political parties join hands for a collective response? The political disunity does not worry you?
A: We are worried. But we are worried about terrorism too. Naxalism too. The government should first show the political will to fight all these problems; then we will definitely extend support.