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'The UPA is all at sea in dealing with J&K'

September 15, 2010 17:02 IST

Against the backdrop of a possible government outreach for Jammu and Kashmir, BJP leader Arun Jaitley articulates his views on the issue to Sheela Bhatt. 

In part 1 of the interview, Jaitley had eleaborated on his party's traditional belief on the Kashmir tangle and spelt out its future position. 

Part I: 'Forget it, azaadi is an impossibility -- no state can dream of it'

In this the second part, he talks about why it is important for the government not to bow before those propagating violence, and offers possible solutions to the problems plaguing the valley.

How do you see the issue of Kashmir from the separatists' point of view?

Their first stage was the conventional war that Pakistan fought with India. They thought, at that time, that India's military strength is inherently more than them. So, they shifted to cross-border terrorism and insurgency. But, after 9/11, the world's ability to digest terrorism has decreased. That proved a roadblock for them.

Also, separatists saw that India's conventional ability to counter terrorism has increased and modernised. Now, they have come to the third stage where they are throwing stones at security forces. Stone-throwing is a deceptive exercise.

You can tell the world that we have no lethal weapons and you can tell security forces that we are still going to injure you. If 500 stones are pelted on group of 10 policemen they all will be lying critical in hospital. They would still tell the world that we haven't used bombs. The problem from the government's point of view is that our security and intelligence forces are not battle-ready to handle this kind of mob violence.

Second, we have seen in Maoist areas that unless security forces move in and remove landmines, you cannot build schools in a jungle area. Even for negotiations you have to have a security environment. No government can hold talks without talking from a position of strength. The United Progressive Alliance-2 doesn't have the mindset to do that. The UPA-2 thinks that political or constitutional bond of J&K should be weakened so that people who are talking of independence will stop agitating and agitators will be happy with the concessions offered by the government. You are fooling yourselves! When Mahatma Gandhiji had commented that Cripps's mission is a 'post-dated cheque' for India's independence, someone had reacted that it's the post-dated cheque of a failed bank.

The UPA-2 is weakening so separatists would see through this weakness of the government. They would claim that we have pushed the feeble government to give us concessions.

What's happening around Kashmir where Pakistan, China and even America have vested interests. When India talks about Kashmir, you can't ignore geopolitics, right?

I disagree with you. First, Nehruvian thinkers created the wrong policy. Then, due to that wrong policy, the situation got worsened. Now, you can't complain that the situation is not under our control. You are standing at the juncture. You first realise that Nehruvian thinking on Kashmir was wrong.

But, the time for such contemplation has gone. The new generation is so alienated and turning anti-India.

See, before June 11, 2010, the same generation was not against India as you see it now. You are so weak that within three months you are saying a new generation is alienated. Not even for a moment am I saying take stern action against youth or allow any innocent to die. But, you see that the stone-throwers are provoking a confrontation. Already, 1,300 injured policemen are in hospital. Nobody is worried about it. It's sad that so many people have died. The state government should investigate human rights violations and must take action but also, see the other side, that if you provoke there will be consequences.

So, you don't agree with the argument of some people that Kashmir is the weak point for Indian diplomacy.

It's the weak point only if the Indian government's mindset is weak.

But, you know the ground realities better than many of us.

See, the ground situation must not get out of control. It's just that the UPA government is all at sea in deciding how to deal with it.

How did the situation go out of control?

As I said, the separatists changed the strategy from insurgency to mob violence.

The government doesn't have a solution or response to mob violence. Second, the situation went out of control also because Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is alienated from his own party (the National Conference which is in a coalition with the Congress). He is alienated from the ruling alliance. And, needless to say, he is alienated from the people.

This is the result of the phenomenon of Indian politics that every party would be run by a family. The reaction has come against it. We are pained to see that in our democracy, rejection of dynasty rule is not there. In fact, it's a negation of democratic polity when leaders have charisma. It's a dichotomy of Indian politics. In Kashmir, there is an undercurrent of resentment to the fact that one family has ruled in our name.

Do you have any solution to offer to the parents of children who were recently killed?

According to me the solution is, whether it's cross-border insurgency or mob violence or domestic insurgency, those who are interested in peace should not participate in violence.

Two, there should be huge economic development including of Jammu and Ladakh. The fact is that prosperity lies on the Indian side. Prosperity can come only if peace comes.

Three, we firmly believe that if the police has crossed its limits, those cases must be investigated and security men must be punished. Youngsters must keep away from street violence because it's a no-win situation either for India or for the separatists.

But, this response is not enough. They would ask you, why are you not addressing their sentiments of azaadi?

Well, we reject the idea of azaadi. The separatists' state of Kashmir is not politically or economically sustainable from the security point of view. And, in any case, no one in India has the mandate to bargain any territory.

Also, remember that Jammu and Ladakh have acted with a great amount of restraint. During the Amarnath movement they reacted a lot. Today, they have a feeling of being discriminated against. Jammu and Ladakh are silently suffering but, still, are keeping restraint.

In Part 3, Jaitley presents his views on other issues in the headlines

Sheela Bhatt