The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP blames ‘healing touch’

New Delhi, March 24: The BJP today blamed Jammu and Kashmir’s “healing touch” policy for the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pundits in the Valley’s Nandimarg and urged the Centre to issue a directive to the state under Article 355 to crack down on militancy.

The party also urged the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government to review its decision to disband the Special Operations Group.

Condemning the killings, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu demanded that the People’s Democratic Party-Congress government immediately re-assess the utility of continuing with its soft policy on terrorism. “The Congress party, in the national interest, should immediately put a halt to the PDP’s soft agenda towards terrorism,” he said.

BJP Parliamentary party spokesperson V.K. Malhotra reacted more strongly, saying the Centre should direct the state under Article 355 to take action against militancy. “If killings continue in the state like this, there is no other alternative to imposition of Article 356 in the state,” he said.

According to Naidu, the situation in Kashmir requires a healing touch which “must heal only the victims of terror and not its perpetrators”. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir have displayed immense courage and nationalist sentiments to elect their representatives in a landmark electoral process,” he said.

In view of the serious situation, Naidu said he hoped the state’s coalition government would adequately respond in the national interest and review its disbanding of the operations group.

He said the killings were the handiwork of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, aimed at Islamabad’s long-established agenda of ethnic cleansing the Valley of its heterogeneous population.

“The international community must understand that Pakistan has not given up its cross-border terrorism and should become aware of the evil designs of Islamabad and condemn it outright,” Naidu said.

“The Centre and state governments together must effectively coordinate their efforts to deal with the situation and take strong action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”

Civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain, the lone Muslim face in the BJP-led Centre, said the barbaric act was “committed by enemies of Islam”.

Stating that the selective brutal killing of Pundits was condemnable, he said those committing such acts in the name of Islam were putting a “black spot” on the religion. He asked minority community leaders to stand up unitedly and condemn the killing of innocents and children.

BJP spokesman and general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the release of terrorists by the Mufti government had raised the “morale” of the militants, resulting in such strikes on innocents.

Blaming the state for its “soft attitude”, he said the Centre had taken a number of steps to weaken terrorism’s roots in the Valley.

The National Commission for Minorities condemned the killings and said militants carried out such attacks to create “tension” in the country. The commission urged the people to maintain “communal harmony”.

“The killings are very unfortunate and tragic. It is done to disturb the secular fabric of our country,” commission chairman Tarlochan Singh said.

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