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Friday, November 13, 2015

Before 1990, as well as after 1990, Kashmir has been almost a single constituency with respect to key pilitical expressionions and indications. However, for academic reasons and sociopolitical analysis, we need to know why post-2002 separatist political expressions----with exception of 2008 and 2010 turbulences----have remained delineated within seven Police Stations (or 4 Assembly segments) of downtown Srinagar (including Maisuma), Palhalan and Sopore towns of North Kashmir and six particular Assembly segments of South Kashmir (Kulgam, Shopian, Wachi, Pulwama, Rajpora,Tral). May be the sentiment of 'azadi' is spread across the Valley in disagreeable proportions but so far, out of 46 segments in Kashmir (and 87 in J&K ), we get reports of encounters, demonstrations, stone pelting, clashes, curfew, killings, fresh militant recruitments, huge funeral processions for slain militants etc from less than a dozen segments. Without getting rhetorical, what precisely are the reasons?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why should they choose drowning to death if MPs Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra feel that PDP is a "sinking ship"? Like their colleagues, they should shower praise on Mufti Sahab and his way of running the party and government. Nobody will take their diatribe seriously as long as they, in Kashmiri proverb, eat in the same pot and piss it too. Out of frustration, why are they reducing themselves to Mr Kamaal and Mr Rattanpuri? If they feel their political existence is not subservient to PDP and Mufti Sahab, they should seek fresh mandate.

Imposition of curfew every second day, restrictions on peoples' movement and traffic, freezing of Internet, blackout of news, clashes with CRPF and Police, people getting killed and injured come as an incontrovertible evidence of the fact that the situation in Kashmir has deteriorated due to erroneous political handling and could go out of hand if not held on gun point. We had nothing of this after 2010. It's a hell of difference between November 2014 when almost everybody was associated with elections with tremendous enthusiasm and November 2015 when everything seems to have come to a standstill. No good indicators!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NC stresses on autonomy, dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat
Working Committee concerned over ‘systematic erosion of CM’s institution’
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Nov 9: Principal opposition party National Conference on Monday expressed concern over what it called “systematic erosion of the institution of the Chief Minister” while pledging to continue struggle for greater autonomy and demanding resumption of New Delhi’s dialogue with Islamabad and the Kashmiri separatists.
NC’s all-important Working Committee meeting, attended by almost all the members and special invitees, was presided over by the party’s President and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah at his residence. After speeches and discussions, it passed six resolutions.
Working President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was exceptionally critical of the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ‘embarrassed’ his host of Saturday’s Srinagar rally and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by saying ‘arrogantly’ in his speech that he did not need anybody’s advice or analysis on Jammu and Kashmir. According to Omar it was “indicative of the systematic erosion of the institution of the Chief Minister”. “Despite his unending praise of the RSS and BJP, Chief Minister stands discredited and snubbed by his own ally”, he asserted.
Omar’s views were encapsulated in one of the six resolutions passed by the meeting at its conclusion.
Struggle for Autonomy
One of the political resolutions said that the NC reiterates that “restoration of the State’s Autonomy forms the bedrock of the party’s political agenda”.
“The party is committed to upholding the political dignity and rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. While the party passed the Autonomy Resolution with two-thirds majority in 2000, we will continue to struggle for this goal in the future with vigour and sincerity of purpose. While the party has put forth the restoration of Autonomy as a viable and credible solution to the political issue, the party welcomes those alternative methods of resolution that would be acceptable to the people of the State and would address their political aspirations”, said the significant resolution.
Dialogue with Pakistan
The meeting observed that the Kashmir issue had both internal as well as external dimensions which need to be addressed for sustained peace in the region and within the State. “To address the external dimensions, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference unanimously resolves the demand for restoration of a sustained and comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan without any further delay. Efforts should be undertaken to increase the level of confidence between the two countries in order to initiate a process to resolve all outstanding issues including the Kashmir Issue which has been a source of confrontation and hostility in the sub-continent”, said another resolution.
It added: “To address the internal dimensions, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference resolves the demand for the opening of dialogue by the Central Government with all internal stakeholders including the Separatist Leadership. Any proposed resolution of the Kashmir Issue shall be to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.”
Concern over intolerance
NC pledged its commitment to upholding pluralistic and secular ethos of the State and protecting the rights and liberties of people living in all the three regions of the State. It also expressed concern over recent incidents of intolerance and radicalism and “concerted efforts to polarize the State on communal and regional lines”. It asserted that recent incidents from Dadri to Udhampur had “hurt the secular fabric of the country” and these were aimed at disrupting communal harmony and amity.
“Jammu and Kashmir has demonstrated its commitment to the values of tolerance and religious harmony and the people of the State will never allow vested interests to sow seeds of discord and animosity. The State’s legacy of pluralism and secularism has enabled it to face serious challenged in the past and steer the State out of difficult circumstances”, said another resolution.
“However, the vested interests of the Central Government and the State Government in dividing the people on the basis of region and religion threaten these long-affirmed values and ideals. The Working Committee resolves the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be united in defeating all such nefarious designs and divisive forces”, it added.
One of the resolution said that the NC was disappointed over the way relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims has been handled. “The Honourable Prime Minister of India had promised all support to the flood victims based on which the NC-Congress Government of the day projected a realistic demand of Rs. 44,000 crores as a comprehensive Flood Relief and Rehabilitation Package. International agencies have termed the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir floods as the most economically devastating natural disaster of 2014 in the entire world. In light of this, the paltry relief released by the Government of India is tantamount to rubbing salt in the gaping wounds of the flood victims”, it added.

[Published in Tuesday's STATE TIMES]

Monday, November 9, 2015

Kashmir shuts over youth’s death in CRPF action

Separatist leaders under house arrest; CRPF claims it didn’t fire a bullet

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 8: With all the prominent separatist leaders under house arrest and undeclared curfew being enforced in downtown Srinagar, Kashmir valley on Sunday observed shutdown to register protest against the death of a 21-year-old civilian in the CRPF action in Zainakoot, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally here on Friday.

Both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF had called for Kashmir bandh in protest of what they called “cold blooded killing of an innocent young civilian in CRPF firing”. Gauhar Nazir Dar of Mustafaabad Zainakoot had died when residents of the village clashed with CRPF at Zainakoot, in outskirts of Srinagar, on Friday evening. He was an engineering student with SSM Engineering College, Parihaspora Pattan.

Almost all the shops, business establishments and passenger services remained closed for the day all over the Valley. The summer capital reeled under undeclared curfew in jurisdiction of seven Police Stations. Unruly groups defied restrictions and engaged Police and CRPF in intermittent clashes at several places in downtown Srinagar.

Officials said that the violent groups also clashed with Police and CRPF at Shalteng, Lawaypora and Zainakoot even as the funeral rites of the deceased had been conducted late on Friday night. Reports of ding dong clashes also poured in from Bandipora where a reporter and several demonstrators sustained injuries in the clashes.

All the key separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Maulvi Abbas Ansari remained under house arrest on the third consecutive day.

Gauhar Dar’s family members alleged that the young student died due a gunshot wound in his head. They disputed Police spokesman’s statement that Dar had been hit by a tear-smoke canister.

CRPF spokesman, meanwhile, issued a detailed statement, claiming that the youth died either after being hit by a teargas canister or by a stone thrown by the mob.

“First of all, 44 Bn CRPF was not deployed in that area and otherwise also don’t perform duties there, as their companies are deployed elsewhere. It is the unit headquarters of 44 Bn., which is housed at HMT complex in Zainakote”, the CRPF spokesman said.

“On 7th November there were no restrictions in that area and no troops of 44 Bn were deployed in that area except at the gate of unit hqs. There was continuous stone pelting on camp of 44 Bn CRPF since morning and CRPF maintained highest restraint and even didn’t use tear smoke.

“But in the evening, intensity of stone pelting increased. At about 4.30 pm there was severe stone pelting on camp in which 3 men of 44 Bn got injured. Youths also threw petrol bomb targeting the camp. Still CRPF was dealing with it tactfully and no force was used.

“But the crowd increased and became more violent. Some youths even displaced the concertina coils placed at boundary of the camp for security purpose and also demolished part of the boundary wall. In the meantime police also reached the spot.

“That unruly mob even tried to barge in to the camp. Sensing the breach in camp security, CRPF and police jointly tried to disperse them by using mild force. But when stone pelting continued from two sides, then that party used some tear smoke to disperse the mob.

“CRPF didn’t fire even a single live bullet, even in the air, as reported in some papers/media. As par the Standard Operating Procedure, CRPF used only minimum force and fired only 19 shells of tear smoke.

“CRPF strictly follow the drill to deal with such law and order problems, even though at times protests become highly violent. At Zainakote also, CRPF used only minimum force in the form of tear smoke only. However we also regret the loss of life of youth.

“We are also not sure that the youth got such grievous injury by hit of the shell, he might got hit by the stone only. However, only experts can tell this, after examining the place, direction and gravity of injury.

“However we have issued directions to all CRPF formations to be more careful while firing shells or rubber bullets. A magisterial inquiry has also been ordered so if anybody from CRPF is found to be at fault, then strict disciplinary action will be taken”, the CRPF spokesman said.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sajjad Lone, Nirmal Singh removed from list of speakers

Large number of Policemen in civvies, Govt employees, Bihari workers in PM’s rally

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Nov 7: Even as Prime Minister’s Office had cleared their names and finalised the schedule of the speeches at Narendra Modi’s rally at midnight on Friday, Minister of Animal Husbandry Sajjad Gani Lone and BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir State President and Lok Sabha member from Jammu were perplexed at their omission at the eleventh hour at the rally at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Even Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was removed as speaker but allowed to replace Jugal for vote of thanks.

General Administration Department’s document accessed by STATE TIMES made it clear that Prime Minister would arrive at the venue at 1130 hours. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti would deliver a welcome speech for 2 minutes. It would be followed by Sajjad Lone’s speech for 3 minutes and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s speech for 3 minutes. At 1138 hours, Chief Minister Mufti was scheduled to start his 15 minute speech.

Prime Minister’s speech was fixed from 1153 hours to 1228 hours to be followed by 2-minute vote of thanks by Jugal Kishore.

However, the schedule underwent a mysterious alteration in the morning. Sources insist that Prime Minister did not want Deputy Chief Minister to deliver the speech. He instead wanted that Nirmal Singh should only read out a vote of thanks at the end. Thus, Nirmal Singh replaced Jugal Kishore. According to the well-placed sources, a senior PDP leader was “bitterly averse” to Sajjad Lone, the Peoples Conference chairman, delivering a speech at the PM’s rally. 

Consequently, neither Jugal Kishore nor Sajjad Lone were called out for their speeches though both of them had been asked to be prepared for it at their given time.

Mehbooba used Jugal Kishore’s and Sajjad Lone’s time to make a longer and soulful speech. The changes, according to sources, caused huge embarrassment to both the BJP leaders as well as the PC Chairman and Cabinet Minister who is claimed to be the topmost contributor of around 3,000 participants to the rally.

Sources revealed that more than 5,000 participants were Policemen in civvies, Government employees of different departments, including Anganwari Workers and Helpers, who had all been given special passes from a Police officer. Even a group of labourers and workers from Bihar, UP and Punjab were found to have been given these passes as they had occupied the front space.

When some mediapersons got suspicious and began quizzing these labourers in the front rows, some PDP activists rushed to the spot and forced them to shift to the midst of the Stadium ground. However, outside near Radio Kashmir, they displayed their entry passes and alleged that they had been forcibly lifted by Police and PDP workers and forced to attend the Prime Minister’s rally.

DIG Central Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat admitted that “some Policemen in civvies” were present in the rally but he argued that they had been deployed for security reasons. He insisted that their number was “negligible”.

However, at least four Constables and SPOs spoke to STATE TIMES and revealed that they had been brought in vehicles from all the Police districts, 100 to 400 from each Police district, and asked to occupy space on the ground. “We stayed at PCR for the night. In the morning, we were dropped at Rajbagh and asked to proceed on foot to the rally venue. We were given packed breakfast but no lunch, refreshment or money for the day”, one of them said.

The Policemen and Anganwari Workers said that they had been assured that PM would announce either doubling their honorarium or their regularisation in government service. Neither of the two happened. “They retained our entry passes but some of us gave them a slip and retained the passes in our possession”, one of the SPOs said. He claimed that no security duty instructions were given to the Policemen other than those on regular roaster of duty.

Youth killed in CRPF action after Modi’s visit

PM’s rally attacked at several places amid lockdown, curfew, e-curfew in Srinagar
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 7: A 22-year-old civilian died in tearsmoke shelling and firing by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and over a dozen people on way to Srinagar sustained injuries when their convoys were attacked by demonstrators even as Police and security forces put the capital city under lockdown and the Mufti Sayeed government ordered suspension of Internet services for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.

Informed sources said that the residents of Zainakoot clashed with CRPF in the evening while demonstrating against Modi’s rally, detention of separatist leaders, arrest of hundreds of activists and ban on the Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s “million march” programme. Such clashes and demonstrations happened at several places all through the day.

Gowhar Ahmad Dar s/o Ghulam Mustafa Dar was critically hit in his head. Later, he succumbed to injuries at SKIMS, Soura. Sources said that the situation was “extremely tense” in Zainakoot-Shalteng area, on north-west periphery of Srinagar where the funeral of the deceased youth could be held anytime around midnight.

SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar told STATE TIMES that Gowhar Dar, according to a CRPF report, was hit in his head by a tearsmoke canister. He was rushed to SKIMS Medical College Bemina and later referred to SKIMS Soura.  Doctors declared him brought dead. “Body is being handed over to the family and the funeral rites could be held later tonight. There’s tension but situation is well under control”, SSP said.

However, doctors, who examined Dar’s body, told this newspaper that he had been hit by a bullet straight into his dead that caused his death. Chairman of Hurriyat’s moderate faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called for a protest shutdown on Sunday.

Earlier, demonstrators carried out intermittent attacks on the cavalcades ferrying people for participation in Modi’s rally at several places on Srinagar-Sopore highway. Dozens of the vehicles engaged for transportation of the supporters of the Peoples Conference chairman and Minister of Animal Husbandry Sajjad Gani Lone were subjected to intense stone pelting on Sopore-Handwara Road around Seelu. Official sources said that 16 Tata Sumo vehicles were damaged and 8 persons sustained injuries. Consequently, a number of the vehicles turned back to Handwara.

Nevertheless, over 3,000 of Lone’s followers managed to reach Srinagar and they attended Modi’s rally.

Reports said that five PDP workers sustained injuries when they were on way to the rally but their vehicle turned turtle near Bijbehara.

Here in the capital city, authorities enforced curfew without formal announcement and disallowed every “unauthorised” civilian movement. Only the people and vehicles carrying special passes issued by Police for participation in Modi’s rally were allowed to proceed. Consequently, afternoon prayers could not be conducted at some mosques. Even after the lockdown was withdrawn after Modi’s departure for Chanderkote at 1300 hours, total shutdown continued in entire capital city. Even the day’s newspapers were not sold as all newsstands were shut down.

All the Internet services remained suspended under orders of the Mufti government from 0900 hours to 1400 hours in Kashmir valley in order to jam access mainly to the social media platforms of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube. Officials pleaded that the “e-curfew” had become necessary as they had apprehensions that the separatist and anti-national elements could disturb peace with broadcasting of rumours and provocation for violence.


PM announces Rs 80,000 cr package to J&K at Srinagar rally

Contrary to Mufti’s hype to his visit, Modi doesn’t reach out to separatists, makes no mention of militants or Pakistan

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 7: Contrary to the hype PDP and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had given to his visit and claimed that it would be a “turning point” in the State’s history, Prime Minister Narendra Mufti on Saturday did not make even a cursory reference to Kashmiri separatists, militants or Pakistan in his 40-minute speech at a rally at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium. He, however, announced a Rs 80,000 crore economic package over the next five years and promised the Kashmiris that Delhi would “lend them her heart” for their faith in the Indian democracy.

“This is not the end, but just the beginning”, Modi asserted while announcing the special package of Rs 80,000 crore. He asserted that he would transform Jammu and Kashmir into the country’s major tourist attraction, restoring the glory it had lost due to turmoil in the last 25 years. “Around 1.75 crore Indian tourists visit foreign countries each year. Can’t we make even 5% of them visit Kashmir?”, he said at the rally---his first after formation of the PDP-BJP government in the State in March this year.

“On Kashmir, I don’t need anybody’s advice and analysis. I will tread on the path set by then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee whose mantra of ‘jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat’ in 2003 changed the course in this State. Even today, I believe, Kashmir’s development is shrouded in Atalji’s vision of democracy, Kashmiriyat and humanity”, Modi said after brief speeches by Chief Minister Sayeed and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.

Prime Minister pointed out that it was the Sufi tradition of Kashmir that had taught Indians the sublime values of integration and unification. “This is the essence of Kashmiriyat”, he said.

Modi extended his greetings to the people of the State for their massive participation in last year’s Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and contended that their faith in the Indian democratic system and institutions would bring them unlimited progress and prosperity. He said he was exceptionally thrilled at the fact that the Kashmiris in the recent years had been excelling in the Indian competitive examinations like IAS, IPS, IIM and IIT.

“Jammu and Kashmir has a great talent. Our youths have proved that they can achieve anything with their talent, hard work and perseverance. We are proud to have talented cricketers like Parvez Rasool. When we have stars of world fame like Parvez Rasool, why shouldn’t we hold International cricket matches in Kashmir? This had struck me in my last year’s rally at the same place. It was in 1983 that we held an International cricket match here. Now, after a long gap, we will have it again here”, Modi said.

Modi said that he had a personal passion and obsession with Kashmir and used to visit this State frequently since long ago. He referred to his seven visits to the State in seven months of the year 2014 and said that he preferred to celebrate Deewali with the Kashmiris who had been severely hit by the unprecedented floods last year. “Prime Minister of China was my guest. He wanted to celebrate my birthday at my home in Gujarat on September 17. I decided against celebrating it as I was pained by the flood in Kashmir. I as usual went to seek my mother’s blessings. She used to give me Rs 5 to 11 as a token gift every year. Last year, she gave me Rs 5,000 and said it was her contribution for the flood victims of Kashmir”, Prime Minister narrated.

Modi said that his special economic package would help the State raise communication and IT infrastructure including call centres and world class Internet, AIIMS-like hospitals in Jammu and Srinagar, IIT, IIM, infrastructure for tourism besides projects to develop horticulture, handicrafts particularly Pashmina, agriculture particularly saffron, high quality and low expenditure education and power projects. He said that his government would particularly focus on addressing the State’s unemployment problem and leave no stone unturned to ensure that everybody got a job.

Prime Minister said that a part of the package would provide relief to the flood-affected people even as he had already provided Rs 1,000 crore for this purpose.

Srinagar frozen for Modi’s visit, PDP expects 30,000-strong rally

Over 5,000 Policemen in civvies deployed to swell PM’s audience

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Nov 6: With the coalition partners PDP and BJP working in unison and using all possible resources to mobilise crowds for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally---expecting a 30,000-strong gathering---separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called upon the Kashmiris to assemble at Tourist Reception Centre grounds for what he has named ‘million march’ on Saturday.

Without a formal announcement, authorities have decided to impose curfew-like restrictions in the entire summer capital on Saturday when Modi would be on his first visit to the Valley after formation of the BJP-PDP government and addressing a public meeting at SK Stadium at Sonwar, in the Civil Lines. All the prominent separatist leaders, including independent MLA Engineer Rashid, have been placed under house arrest while as more than 800 separatist activists and former militants have been lifted and detained in jails and Police Stations.

With Concertina wire barricades, Police and paramilitary forces have sealed all the roads leading to Sonwar and few vehicles were seen crossing these checkpoints without checking and questioning of drivers. However, until late on Friday, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere across the Valley.

STATE TIMES learned from well-placed sources that around 5,000 Police personnel, mostly constables and followers, were collected from all the Police districts and prepared for a drill to intermingle in the crowds to make the size of Modi’s rally swell. However, some of the officers dismissed it as “rumour” while others insisted that putting Policemen in civvies in the VVIP rallies was “strictly for security reasons”. One senior officer on the condition of anonymity disclosed that Police had inputs about possible attempts by the separatists to carry and wave Pakistani national flags at the venue during PM’s speech.

“It was because of this apprehension that we decided not to permit anybody with a flag towards the venue. Both the parties will distribute their party flags, including the Tricolour, very much at the venue under Police supervision”, said the officer.

On Friday, there was not much tension though areas under six Police Stations reeled under undeclared curfew. None of the prominent separatist leaders was allowed to attend or hold Friday congregational prayers at the community mosques.

In a statement issued late in the evening on Friday, Geelani asked his followers to come out in defiance of restrictions and make his call for the “million march” a success. He, however, advised them to maintain peace and avoid any provocation that could provide an excuse of action to the authorities.

“Don’t let the enemy to succeed in their nefarious designs”, Geelani addressed the youths. He claimed that his march was “not against any religion or community and our non-Muslim brothers need not worry about anything. They are an important part of our society and our brothers of human relation and Islam also guarantees the protection of life, property, honor, culture, religious beliefs and places for the non-Muslim brothers”.

“Islam doesn’t believe in force or coercion, the will of a human being is highly respected in Islam”, Geelani said. “Geelani sahab appealed all the non-Muslim brothers Hindus, Sikhs, Christens and Buddhists to continue their moral, social and political support to our national cause. We will be pleased if any non-Muslim brother will participate in our Million March program and we welcome them with open arms”, read the statement issued by a spokesman of Geelani-led Hurriyat.

“While appealing the people to come out in large numbers to take part in the scheduled “Million March” program, the Hurriyat Chairman said that the Muslim population of Jammu & Kashmir are duty bound to attend the Million March program because this march is against that force and autocratic rule in which our lives, our property, our honour, our dignity, our culture and even our religion is not safe so it is our responsibility to make the proposed march a grand success”, it added.

Geelani said that his Hurriyat would announce its million march in future if the authorities used force to foil it on the day of Modi’s visit.

Jitendra urges intellectuals to defuse intolerance

‘Ask State Home Ministry why Geelani’s march has been banned and curfew imposed’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 6: Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh on Friday implored the country’s intellectual community to come forward and play the same role that the Progressive Writers Forum had adopted in the aftermath of the Partition in 1947 to neutralise communal frenzy and intolerance in India.

In his interaction with mediapersons on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, Dr Singh faced questions over the cult of ‘intolerance’ that had sprouted in several States in the last 17 months of the NDA rule. He was asked how the Modi government viewed the situation, particularly the intellectuals and writers returning their awards to Sahitya Akademi and other cultural bodies to register their protest against ‘communal and cultural intolerance’.

Responding to a question over communal intolerance with specific reference to a Kashmiri Muslim trucker’s killing by a group of frenzied men in Udhampur---headquarters of  his Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu province---Dr Singh asserted: “My considered belief in this is that the intellectual class of the country, that includes writers, artists and poets, carries of its shoulders a very rich legacy of a tradition which expects them to work for uniting the society instead of willingly or unwillingly becoming a part of a treadmill that divides the society”.

“In 1947, in the aftermath of the Partition, when there were communal riots all over the Sub-constituent and there was a huge communal frenzy, a group of writers came forward to constitute what came to be known as Progressive Writers Forum. It constisted of very famous literary personalities like Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Ismat Chugtai and Mohsin Bhopali. They vociferously raised their voice against the divisive elements”, Dr Singh added.

“Intellectual class must rise to the occasion instead of becoming a party this side or that side”, Dr Singh said. Facing another question on actor Anupam Kher’s march, he asserted: “A manufactured campaign becomes more manufactured if further supplementation is done to it”.

RSS rally

 When it was pointed out by a journalist that BJP’s ideological arm RSS had created a ‘fear psychosis’ among the Muslims with a rally in which the chalaks carried guns and swords, Dr Singh pleaded that there was no element of militancy or intolerance in it. He asserted that the rally on every Dussehra---RSS foundation day---had been an annual ritual since 1925 in Jammu. He claimed that it did not ever offend any community or minority and insisted that it had been “wrongly projected” in media.

“Unfortunately some vested interests among the political class tend to give it one or the other colour. But I think it should be taken at its face value”, he said.

Banning Geelani’s march

Responding to a question why BJP’s coalition partner PDP, known for its ‘battle of ideas’ trademark, had banned Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s proposed ‘million march’ at Tourist Reception of Centre, parallel to Modi’s rally at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, Dr Singh argued that such decisions of the State government were consistent with security detail put in place around the Prime Minister’s visit everywhere.

When it was pointed out by newsmen that the authorities had put all the separatist leaders under house arrest, detained hundreds of Kashmiri youths and put the capital city virtually under curfew for Modi’s rally, Dr Singh contended that Police and law and order were the State issues and such questions should be put only to the State Home Ministry. “They must have reasons for taking such decisions”, he said.

Dr Singh declined to take questions on the contents of Modi’s much awaited speech. He also ignored media reports that Modi could invite Pakistan, Hurriyat and militants for talks on the resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio. Pressed hard if Modi would start the political process where Vajpayee had left it in 2004, Dr Singh said: “Prime Minister Modi has already said that he would carry forward Vajpayee’s legacy with regard to resolution of the Kashmir crisis”. He, nevertheless, confirmed that Modi would unfold a major “economic and political package”.