The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP turns up amnesty din

New Delhi, Nov. 13: For the third day in a week, the BJP went hammer and tongs at the newly-elected PDP-Congress coalition in Kashmir for granting amnesty to political prisoners despite indications from the Centre that it was ready to wait and watch.

A day after BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley said that the decision to release political prisoners on parole would “undermine the entire effort to fight insurgency and terrorism”, his colleague Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today termed it a “fraud not only against the Jammu and Kashmir public, but the entire country”.

Naqvi said the Congress’ resolve to combat terrorism was out of synch with its “conciliatory efforts in favour of terrorists in Kashmir” and a “sharp reflection of their confused policy on the issue of national security”.

The policy to “reward and respect terrorists disregarding wider national interests may not only prove dangerous to the country but also boost the morale of terrorists and separatists”, he added.

Naqvi said the attitude of JKLF chief Yasin Malik, who was released on parole on November 11, was a “glaring example of the fact that however soft and considerate the Jammu and Kashmir government may be towards terrorists and separatists, they would not change their stand at all”.

Malik was quoted as saying that he challenged the chief minister to contest an election against him to “prove” who was a “truer representative” of the Kashmiris.

BJP sources said the virtual campaign the party had unleashed against the two-week-old Mufti government was motivated by two considerations: One, to boost the theme of terrorism which it planned to exploit to the hilt in the Gujarat campaign and show the Congress as a party ever willing to compromise on national integrity to stay in power.

Two, to rebuild its own base among Jammu’s Hindus after being wiped out in the Assembly elections.

It appeared that the BJP would use the Godhra carnage and the Akshardham siege to hammer home during its Gujarat campaign that the country was under “attack” from terrorists from across the border and their local “sympathisers”. The Jammu and Kashmir move, sources said, would add “ammunition” to the poll battle.

During the last elections in Jammu, the BJP was hamstrung by its alliance with the National Conference. Angered by terrorist strikes in the region, Hindus blamed the Farooq Abdullah government for failing to control the violence.

With the NC off its back, the BJP seems set to go back to the terrorism plank to revive itself in Jammu.

“It is regrettable that the Congress government, which won the majority of seats from the Jammu region on a strong anti-terrorism plank, is choosing to be a participant in this terror-friendly exercise,” Jaitley had said.

But for the Centre — which considered the free and fair conduct of the J&K polls as a big feather in its cap — the Mufti government’s initiative seemed to be a “logical corollary” of the process of bringing the Valley in the mainstream.

Sources close to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said the Centre itself would have liked to “do so many things” but for the “possible objections which the BJP and the RSS would raise”. “Therefore, we would like to tacitly encourage the J&K government,” they said.

Vajpayee himself was reportedly of the belief that nothing should be done to undermine the nascent government because of the goodwill the elections had earned in the international community.

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