Restrictions up to Pakistan: Ajit Doval
He seemed to suggest liberty was the price Kashmiris were paying to save their lives
- Published 8.09.19, 1:46 AM
- Updated 8.09.19, 1:46 AM
- 2 mins read
National security adviser Ajit Doval said on Saturday he is “fully convinced” a majority of Kashmiris support the abrogation of the state’s special status under Article 370 and defended the restrictions, saying people went about their lives even “before Internet”.
“Even before Internet came into our lives people were going about their lives doing business,” Doval told journalists, while acknowledging that people were unhappy with the restrictions. “In any society, people always want more than what they have,” he said.
Doval seemed to suggest liberty was the price Kashmiris were paying to save their lives. “But to us their life is more important,” he said.
Kashmir has been in lockdown since August 5, with restrictions on movement and mobile and Internet services snapped. The blockade has meant that patients are unable to reach doctors in emergencies and that families can’t communicate.
Doval claimed that 92.5 per cent of the geographical area of Jammu & Kashmir is now without restrictions and justified the communication blockade, saying mobile and Internet services can be used by Pakistan and terrorists for subversive activities.
“We would like to see all restrictions go, but it depends on how Pakistan behaves. It’s a stimulant and response situation,” Doval said.
“If Pakistan starts behaving, terrorists don’t intimidate and infiltrate,” he added. “Pakistan stops sending signals through its towers to operatives, then we can lift restrictions.”
“There are about 230 persons ready to infiltrate from different parts of Kashmir,” he said. The number is based on radio intercepts and intelligence from the ground, military officials said.
“A large number of weapons are being smuggled and people in Kashmir are being told to create trouble,” said Doval.
The political detentions were preventive and allowed under the law, he said. Hundreds of pro-India political leaders in the Valley, including three former chief ministers, are either jailed or under house arrest for a month.
“We will not allow people to become victims of Pakistan’s machinations and its bullets sent across the border. We will do everything in power to protect the people,” he said.
Questioned about alleged human rights abuses by the army, Doval said it is only the local police and central paramilitary forces that are deployed to maintain law and order. So, there is no question of atrocities by the army, whose job is only to fight terrorists, he said.
“Terror is the only instrument Pakistan has to create unrest in Kashmir,” Doval said.
Article 370 was nothing but a millstone around the neck of Kashmir and was preventing the people there from having equal rights that other Indians had, he said. It was only a tool of the political class to make money through corruption, he said. “For the common man there was nothing,” he said.
“I am fully convinced that a majority of Kashmiris totally support the abrogation of Article 370,” Doval said. “They see greater opportunities, a better future, more jobs for youths,” he said.
“There is a vocal minority that opposes it. It appears to people that that is the voice of the people. That is not necessarily true,” the national security adviser said.
Article 370 “was not a special status. It was a special discrimination. With its abrogation we have brought Kashmiris on a par with Indians”, he said.