Strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir has seen a spurt in terror-related violence, including stone pelting, this year. The Kathua rape has also shaken the alliance between BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Kavinder Gupta, who took over as the new deputy chief minister on April 30, has a tough road ahead. He spoke to Hindustan Times on Kashmir’s situation and home-grown militancy, among other things.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
What is the situation in Kashmir today? There is a spurt in terror-related violence in the region.
Terror incidents happened in the past as well. Our security forces, including police and paramilitary forces, are performing their duties with utmost restraint. Regarding the attack on the school bus in Shopian, I think such attempts to vitiate the atmosphere harm entire society.
Home-grown militancy has increased and more educated youth are picking up guns. What is the strategy to tackle this?
The government’s strategy cannot be discussed in public domain. It involves getting the army, the police, the paramilitary forces and various other security and intelligence agencies to work cohesively. However, we will work with the utmost restraint to ensure minimal loss and bare-minimum casualties. The trend of educated youth joining militancy is a cause for concern. Pro-Pakistan elements are luring them with money… The government made an appeal to such youth to surrender. The police also paved the way for their return to the mainstream…
Political workers are being targeted in Kashmir. One such worker, Ghulam Nabi, was killed. Has the party’s outreach failed?
I don’t think so. We should adopt a cautious and patient approach. I would appeal to the local people to not support and give shelter to them (insurgents).
Has amnesty to first-time stone pelters on the advice of the Centre’s special representative, Dineshwar Sharma, delivered desired results?
… They are our youth, our children and we don’t want them to go astray. So, the government made an attempt to bring them back, which is a positive step. If they are found involved again, then they really need to worry for themselves….The step has borne some results, but a lot remains to be done.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti often talks about initiating political dialogue with Pakistan and separatists. What is your take?
It is the Centre’s prerogative. The CM can also have her view. From time-to-time, the Centre has given indications on a dialogue, but how can it happen when Pakistan is fuelling insurgency? Regarding talks with separatists, it is again Centre’s prerogative .
What are the implications of the Kathua incident on the BJP-PDP alliance?
It was an unfortunate incident in the land of Vaishno Devi where we worship daughters. We have to ensure such incidents don’t happen again. … I don’t think the Kathua incident has anything to do with the alliance.