In the wake of assaults on Kashmiris reported from several parts of the country since the Pulwama terror attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that India’s fight was against terrorism and those who sponsored terrorism, and not against Kashmiris. The PM, addressing a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) public meeting in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, said it was the duty of every Indian to protect Kashmiris.
“Kashmiri youths are also troubled by terrorists. They are also ready to come with us to fight against them. We need to keep them with us. Kashmiri people take care of Amarnath pilgrims. One year ago, there was firing on Amarnath pilgrims and Kashmiri Muslim people had lined up for donating blood and to protect lives," he said. "If we want to win the fight, we should not make mistakes. A terrorist is a terrorist and Kashmiri people are also facing trouble due to terrorism. Previous governments sowed such seeds, but this government will fulfil the dreams of Kashmiris."
Omar Abdullah thanks PM, raises concern
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah thanked the PM for his comments. “It has been more than a week since the terrible attack in Pulwama and more than a week that Kashmiris have been bearing the brunt of the public anger. Perhaps finally after PM Narendra Modi sahab has spoken, these forces targeting Kashmiris will stop in their tracks,” Abdullah tweeted. “Thank you @narendramodi Sahib. Aaj aap ne hamaray dil ki baat keh di (you have conveyed the feelings of our heart).”
Later in the day, Abdullah, several other politicians and local journalists started tweeting how there was panic in the towns and cities of Kashmir. "People in the valley, especially the cities & towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner. People are hoarding food and fuel," Abdullah tweeted. "Some government orders are adding to the sense of panic.The administration needs to take steps to reduce this sense of panic. People are wound tight with worry & the speculation on some TV news channels is contributing to this as well. Let’s hope someone in the government is listening," the National Conference leader said.
On Friday, the Centre airlifted an additional 100 companies of paramilitary forces to Srinagar to boost security build up.
The PM’s remarks on Saturday came nine days after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, which killed 44 CRPF personnel, and a day after the Supreme Court directed that the nodal officers appointed by the states/UTs would take necessary steps to prevent acts of violence, discrimination and other coercive acts against Kashmiris.
Ministry of Home Affairs officials said states and UTs had appointed nodal police officers to resolve problems of Kashmiris. Attacks on Kashmiris have taken place in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Jammu city in the last few days. Hundreds of Kashmiri students and traders have returned to Jammu and Kashmir subsequent to the attacks. Senior Union ministers, including Prakash Javadekar, had initially denied that there had been any attacks on Kashmiris.
The Sangh Parivar is preparing to raise the issue of abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Have faith in armed forces, govt: Modi
In his speech, the PM said the fight was against the enemies of humanity. Modi said Kashmiris wanted peace and the government would work towards ensuring peace in the region. He reiterated that the perpetrators of the terror attack would have to pay. The PM asked the people to have faith in the armed forces and his government.
The PM criticised the Congress, stating that some talk the language of Pakistan while living in India, and such people were only interested in removing Modi as Prime Minister. He said these politicians were neither working for the soldiers nor farmers. “They did not have the courage to do anything after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks,” the PM said.
Modi spoke about how his government was isolating Pakistan internationally, and said Indian soldiers sent one main perpetrator of the Pulwama terror attack to the place he deserved. “There is consensus in the entire world against terrorism. We are moving ahead with strength to punish the perpetrators of terrorism," he said.
“Stern action against those who live in India and push for separatism has been taken and will be taken. This is a changed India, this pain will not be tolerated. We will not sit quiet after suffering this pain. We know how to crush terrorism. This is an India of new policies,” Modi said.
Recalling his conversation with Imran Khan during a congratulatory call after the cricketer-turned-politician became Pakistan's premier, Modi said, "People know him as a cricketer. I told him there has been enough of fights between India and Pakistan. Pakistan got nothing, every fight we have won. I told him let us fight against poverty and illiteracy. He told me, 'Modiji, I am the son of Pathan. I speak true and I do true.' Today, it is the time he stands true to his words. I will see whether he stands true to his words or not."
He said the government took decisions after Pulwama attack that created ripples in Pakistan. "We have given full freedom to our army. The overwhelming sentiment in the social media is of 'veer ras' (bravery and heroism), but our fight is against terrorism, against the enemies of humanity. Our fight is for Kashmir, not against Kashmir and not against Kashmiris,” Modi said.
India invited to OIC meet
In an important development, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers' conclave of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the 'guest of honour'.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.
Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an OIC meeting as guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.