Azad Targets BJP For ‘Deteriorating’ Kashmir Situation

SRINAGAR — Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for the “deteriorating” situation in Jammu and Kashmir saying AFSPA could have been revoked from some districts as “conditions improved” during the UPA rule.

The controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives sweeping powers to security forces under which they can arrest anyone or carry out searches in any premises.

“What is the reason that situation in Kashmir, which was improving till 2014, has gone so bad that we have returned to the 1990 situation? If there is one person responsible for it, he is Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Azad said addressing an election rally at Lolab in Kupwara district, 120 kilometres from here.

Azad, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said Modi and the BJP were responsible for different voices coming out from Kashmir.

“The PM and the BJP are responsible for it because they created such a situation that Kashmiris and Kashmiri leaders have been pushed into a corner. Their voices has been suppressed by threats and intimidations that they have been forced to talk in such a way,” he said.

Talking to reporters, the senior Congress leader claimed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was improving so rapidly before 2014 that the AFSPA could have been revoked from some districts in the state.

“There was a time when it (AFSPA) could have been revoked… the way the situation was improving so rapidly, the graph of militancy was coming down from its zenith to almost zero, that it was a matter of just few more months that AFSPA would have been revoked (from the state) or at least from some districts,” he claimed.

Azad said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government made massive efforts for normalising situation in the state and held three round table conferences.

“Twenty-seven political parties and religious groups participated in those round table conferences, except Hurriyat. No less than the then PM presided over the round tables. So we made a massive effort to normalise the situation and take the people of the state into confidence,” he said.

Azad expressed amusement that the Congress was being asked about statements made by its allies while the BJP leaders were “getting away with any kind of abuses hurled at minorities of the country”.

“Who is responsible for the statements coming today? PM Narendra Modi and BJP are responsible for it. See what the PM says, how much control he has over his tongue. The kind of abuses he and his ministers hurl at the Muslims and other minorities … his own ministers, governors appointed by the government… what action has been taken.

“We are asked about statements made by alliance partners. You and your leaders including ministers have been abusing the Muslims and the Islam for the last five years, what action have you taken?” he alleged.

Azad said the prime minister should do some instrospection.

On the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, he said it was an “inclusive” and “exhaustive” document that covers entire country.

“I have been in the working committee for the past 35 years but we have never made such an exhaustive manifesto,” the Congress leader said.

He said the Congress had formed a 20-member team under the leadership of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram eight months ago for this purpose.

“For six months, this committee travelled across the country and interacted with cross section of the society including youth, farmers and businessmen. The concerns of all the sections of the society have been addressed in this manifesto,” he said.

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