Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “massively opening up” space for militants in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to an “increase in violence.”
Addressing students at the University of California in Berkeley, Gandhi said that the decision by Modi to have a political tie-up with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a “strategic mistake.”
“The PDP was the instrument that brought Kashmiri youngsters into the political process. And the day Narendra Modi made an alliance between the PDP and the BJP, it destroyed the PDP as an instrument that could bring youngsters into the political system. And the day he did that, he massively opened up space for terrorists in Kashmir and they came in. And you saw a massive increase in violence,” Gandhi said.
He said that the intelligence personnel in Jammu and Kashmir told him that a large number of members of the PDP have suddenly gone towards the militants.
“When you take these strategic decisions to take a little bit of political advantage, you do tremendous damage to the country. Today the space in Jammu and Kashmir has been opened up, not only for the Pakistanis, but for other players in the region. And it is going to impose a massive, massive strategic cost on India,” he said.
Gandhi claimed that for nine years, he had worked behind the scene with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to improve the situation in Kashmir.
“The results were there for all to see as militancy was at an all-time low and tourism flourished in Kashmir,” he said.
After the 2014 elections, the PDP and the BJP tied up an alliance to form a government in the state.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh hit out at Rahul Gandhi, saying national issues should not be politicised.
He countered Rahul’s contention that militancy in Kashmir had increased under the Modi government by reminding him of the situation which existed in the Valley in 1989 as well as 7-8 years back.
“National issues should not be politicised… We cannot forget about 1989 (when militancy in Kashmir started). What was the situation then? What was the situation 7-8 years ago? I don’t blame anybody,” Singh told reporters.
“Why has the situation never been peaceful (in Kashmir) since 1947? I don’t want blame anybody,” the home minister said.
He was also asked to comment on reports that an MLA of Jammu and Kashmir had allegedly taken money from Pakistan, purportedly according to the NIA.
In his response, Singh said, “the NIA is an autonomous agency. They are doing their work. Let us allow them to work. The government should not raise a question mark on the working of such an organization, which is such autonomous.”
On the demand for elections to panchayats and local bodies, Singh said polls should take place.
He said he had talked to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in this regard.