It was a day of contrasting, even disputed, narratives on Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing a public rally in Gujarat’s Kevadiya, Prime Minister Narenda Modi said the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel inspired his government’s recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
In the national capital, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a part of India and New Delhi expects to have physical jurisdiction over it one day. In response to Pakistan’s attempts at trying to internationalise the issue, the minister said there was no need to "worry" beyond a point about what people will say on Kashmir.
However, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, a four-time legislator of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir assembly, disagreed with the government’s claims that normalcy had returned to Kashmir.
Tarigami is the first politician of a mainstream political party in Kashmir to visit Delhi since the Centre imposed restrictions in the region in the first week of August. The Supreme Court had allowed him to travel to Delhi for medical treatment.
“Where is the normalcy? The clampdown is now 40-days old. Schools have remained shut, so have the shops. Internet is blocked, telephones still not functional. The government says not one person has died. Yes, true but nobody dies in a jail. We are dying slowly every day. We are feeling suffocated,” he said.
Tarigami, flanked by CPI (M) chief Sitaram Yechury who had visited Srinagar last month to check on him, said peoples’ livelihoods were at risk. He said most people in Kashmir survive on their daily earnings, but there is no economic activity for 40-days. He said half the fruit crop, one of the mainstays of Kashmir’s economy, has rotted and the rest is at risk.
“Do this kind of clampdown in Delhi or any other city for 40-days and see what is the situation of business, hospitals, schools and media?” Tarigami asked. He wondered how the government hopes to win people's trust by beating them, or making their lives difficult.
Yechury said Tarigami, on behalf of the CPI (M), will move a writ petition in the Supreme Court in the next few days about the situation in Kashmir. The two leaders thanked Supreme Court for its interventions and for allowing Yechury to visit Srinagar, and Tarigami to travel to Delhi for treatment. The apex court is set to hear a bunch of petitions on J&K in the first week of October.
Yechury disputed the PM’s statement on Patel having inspired his government’s decisions on Kashmir. The CPI (M) chief said the PM was "twisting history". He said Patel was very much a party to the decision on Kashmir, and attended the meeting with Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah.
Tarigami criticised the Centre for detaining former chief minister Farooq Abdullah under the public safety act (PSA). “People across the border are clapping" that the current government in Delhi has done what they could not, Tarigami said. He said the Centre’s moves have strengthened terrorists. "We, Abdullah and others are not terrorists. It is such a horrible time. I am very disturbed," Tarigami said.