Jammu: Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s statements on Kashmir caused a sharp attack on the government in the state assembly on Monday, with Opposition members led by the National Conference’s Ali Mohammad Sagar walking out in protest. The Legislative Assembly had resumed business on Monday after a gap of two holidays.
National Conference legislators stood up from their seats and asked the PDP-BJP government to make a statement on General Bipin Rawat’s remarks. Gen Rawat had objected to the map of Jammu & Kashmir being taught in schools and a day later advocated a “politico-military solution” to the Kashmir issue. He also warned of misuse of social media, government schools in J&K, mosques and madrassas in “spreading disinformation campaign resulting in radicalisation of youth.”
NC legislators led by Sagar lambasted the government for starting “Operation All Out” in Kashmir.
“It is a serious issue,” Sagar told Speaker Kavinder Gupta. “CASO is back in downtown Srinagar after 17 years… what is this?” Sagar said that the NC did not bring an adjournment motion because “the government then accuses opposition of disrupting the business”.
“This government has neither vision, direction nor any policy,” he told the House as the NC legislators pressed for a government statement over the cordon and search operation (CASO) launched by government forces in Old Srinagar city on Sunday. The CASO was reportedly carried out after at least 17 years in the area.
The NC found support from the lone Communist legislator in the assembly, MY Tarigami, who represents Kulgam in the lower house of the state legislature.
“This is a serious issue and the government should come clear as to what the army chief meant by politico-military solution to Kashmir,” Tarigami told the Speaker.
NC legislators raised slogans of “Crackdown sarkar – hai hai; Operation All-out sarkar – hai hai; Nagpur sarkar – hai hai” and gathered in the well of the House.
“This Nagpur sarkar is taking CASO to central and northern areas of Kashmir as announced by the army chief,” Sagar said. He praised Education Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari for strongly responding to Rawat’s statement on school education. “Education Minister was right,” Sagar said of Bukhari’s statement that the army should not meddle in affairs of education in J&K.
Pressing hard for a government statement on Gen Rawat’s remarks, Sagar questioned who was running the government in J&K. “Aakhir maajra kya hai? CM said 14,000 bunkers are being constructed after a BJP minister announced it from Delhi. Does CM know that Rs 4.5 crore was granted by GoI for them? Who is running the government? Delhi is giving one direction, army chief another, and CM is somewhere else,” he said.
“If the situation deteriorates in Srinagar, it will be a huge problem for government,” he warned.
“We are concerned that all this is happening with your consensus,” he told the government. “Do you want to make Srinagar and Baramulla another south Kashmir?”
Tarigami joined in by saying, “How the government intends to respond to the emerging situation in J&K, I do not know. On one side you say Panchayat polls will be held and will be indicator of some sort of normalcy, but who is in command here? Please tell us frankly.”
“Let the army work, we won’t interfere,” he told the Speaker. “But what are we being told with this politico-military solution?”
The government remained unmoved and PDP MLA Yawar Mir started asking counter questions, to which NC MLA Abdul Majeed Larmi retorted: “We want answers and that, too, here only. We just want one statement.”
The NC legislators walked out of the House at 10:15am and returned by 10:27am.