BJP-PDP leaders meet in Jammu, Altaf Bukhari slams Ram Madhav

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Jammu, Apr 21: With the Jammu and Kashmir Government led by Mehbooba Mufti drawing sharp criticism in wake of the recent unrest in the Valley, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ram Madhav on Friday held a meeting with Finance Minister and People`s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Haseeb Drabu to discuss the future strategy.
Hours after the meeting, senior PDP leader and Minister for Education Altaf Bukhari issued a hard hitting statement against BJP’s points man on Kashmir Ram Madhav.
The meeting between PDP and BJP lasted for over an hour after which Ram Madhav headed a closed door meeting with his party colleagues.
BJP leaders Avinash Rai Khanna and Satpal Sharma were also among those who attended the meeting held at the BJP office in Jammu.
Stone pelting incidents have increased manifold in the region since the BJP-PDP Government came to power in 2015.
“We held a meeting to discuss and review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir," Khanna told reporters later.
The meeting assumes importance in view of the growing tension between the partners over BJP Minister Chander Prakash Ganga's recent statement that "traitors and stone-pelters should be treated with bullets".
His remarks drew the ire of the PDP, which said there was a "conspiracy" to keep trouble brewing in the Valley.
Later, DGP S P Vaid also joined the meeting at the BJP headquarters.
"We are here to discuss arrangements for the forthcoming visit of Amit Shah from April 29," BJP's Khanna said.
The issue of Kashmir unrest also featured in the BJP’s core group meeting headed by PM Narendra Modi a couple of days ago.
Nine people were killed in clashes during the by-election in Anantnag last week. The violence prompted the Election Commission to postpone voting. Last week, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat apprised National Security Advisor Ajit Doval of the security situation in Kashmir.
Rawat`s meeting with Doval on April 16 came a day after he had separate deliberations with CM Mehbooba Mufti and Governor N N Vohra over the ‘law and order’ situation in Kashmir during his visit to the state.
As many as 411 stone-pelting incidents have been reported in the Kashmir Valley from October 2016 to March 2017. Hundreds of civilians and security men have been injured in clashes in the region.
Meanwhile, taking a strong exception to the ‘love and war’ statement made by Ram Madhav, Minister for Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari said that it is “unfortunate that BJP is moving towards the opposite direction.”
“PDP did not form this coalition for power or any privileges but this government was formed to restart and resume a halfway left reconciliatory process to heal the wounds of conflict-hit Kashmiris. Unfortunately, the BJP seems to be moving towards the opposite direction,” Bukhari said.
Reacting to Madhav’s statement, Bukhari said his remarks seem to be a move aimed at legitimising a crime that is internationally abhorred under covenants of human rights.
“One fails to understand against whom Madhav has declared war! Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who despite all odds casted their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country,” Bukhari questioned.
He said modern nations operate under the presumption that in the case of armed conflict, the State must do everything to ensure civilians are not hurt.
“However, Madhav seems to be justifying what is unjustifiable under law. Almost all general legal approaches consider human shields illegal both in domestic circumstances and international conflicts,” the minister for education remarked.
Bukhari said some people in the country have unfortunately started arguing that using humans as shields in military operations is justified response to Kashmiri protesters who hurl stones to give vent to their political aspirations.
“These statements smack of a hyper-nationalist environment in the country. Unfortunately, people with right-wing approach consider any support for human rights in Kashmir to be anti-national. Let Mr. Madhav be reminded that no civilized society can afford to use its’ citizens as shields for military operations,” Bukhari observed.
On the statement of Ganga, the minster for education said that his remarks speak volumes about intellectual bankruptcy of a person who is holding the responsibility of a public office.
He said that bullets have only created havoc in the world and have brought an enforced, thus temporary, peace in certain regions. “Bullets can’t win you a battle of ideas. PDP believes that dialogue is the only way out. Unfortunately instead of initiating dialogue as a confidence building measure to re-instill a sense of belonging among bruised Kashmiris, some BJP insiders are trying to sabotage the whole peace process initiated under Vajpayee regime,” Bukhari regretted.
“Even army generals who deal with bullets are not supposed to give sweeping statements like Ganga has made. The BJP minister has exposed himself for his venomous and biased approach against Kashmiris who believe a person holding a chair of responsibility behaves and acts in an impartial manner,” Bukhari said and asked Ganga not only to withdraw his remarks but extend an unconditional apology to citizens of the State.
The minister for education said that Agenda of Alliance reached between PDP-BJP coalition Government was supposed to offer confidence building measures for the conflict torn Kashmiris as the same is a concise document of all major reports and working group recommendations made on Jammu and Kashmir.
“If Kashmiris are perceived as ‘enemies and anti-nationals’ why BJP agreed in principle for the agenda of alliance calling for dialogue with all stakeholders… good relations between India and Pakistan… maintaining status quo on Article 370…steps for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) …opening of new cross-LoC routes…settlement of issues of refugees etc,” Bukhari asked.
Instead of sitting together to help in implementation of the Agenda of Alliance which was perceived as a key to bring Kashmiris out of political quagmire, the BJP unfortunately seems shying away from its responsibilities as a coalition partner on the ground.
“On the one hand Hon’ble Prime Minister Naredra Modi compliments our chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, and on the other BJP ministers and leaders act in contradiction to those compliments. It seems a difficult and vitiating scenario is being created to hamper her performance on the ground,” Bukhari observed.
The minister for education said that Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed could have stitched an alliance within few hours to be in power but he always treaded the tough path and took bold decisions to get Kashmir out of the political instability and its consequences.
“PDP did not form this coalition for power or any privileges but this government was formed to restart and resume a halfway left reconciliatory process to heal the wounds of conflict hit Kashmiris. Unfortunately, the BJP seems to be moving towards the opposite direction,” Bukhari remarked.

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