Cong warns against ‘misadventure’ in J&K, demands statement from PM in Parliament
New Delhi/Srinagar, Aug 03: Condemning the government’s decision to curtail the Amarnath Yatra, the Congress on Saturday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in Parliament on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and expressed apprehensions about a “misadventure” by the Union Home Ministry.
The Congress sought a reply from the prime minister, a day after the Jammu and Kashmir government asked Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to cut short their stay in the Valley and return as soon as possible in the wake of intelligence inputs of “specific terror threats” to the pilgrimage.
Addressing a press conference at the party office here, senior party leader and former Home minister P Chidambaram cautioned the Union Home Ministry against any misadventure in the state related to constitutional provisions such as Articles 35-A and 370.
Referring to the advisory, senior Congress leader and former chief minister of the state Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Amarnath Yatra has never been curtailed in the history of the country, not even in 2000 when the biggest attack on pilgrims left over 30 people dead.
“This is unprecedented,” Azad said.
Alleging that the BJP government at the Centre is “spoiling the image” of Jammu and Kashmir in front of the country, he said it is trying to show that outsiders in the state are not safe, even though the local people there are completely standing with the tourists and Amarnath pilgrims.
He also accused the BJP of doing politics over the issue.
“Parliament is in session. Prime Minister should give statement in both houses of Parliament. It is his duty,” said Azad, who was flanked by Chidambaram and senior party leaders Karan Singh, Anand Sharma and Ambika Soni.
Replying to a question on whether the Home Ministry could be working on scrapping Article 35-A, Chidambaram said, “I don’t wish to anticipate what misadventure this government is planning to do in Kashmir. Most of the constitutional issues involving Kashmir are pending in the Supreme Court. It’s clear to me, they are planning a misadventure in Kashmir and I warn them not to do so.”
Senior party leader Karan Singh said everybody is in a state of shock after the government’s advisory curtailing the Amarnath Yatra.
An atmosphere of fear and apprehension has gripped the state, he said.
Azad also asserted that the situation in the Valley is “worrying” and questioned the deployment of the additional forces in the state which he said is a “matter of concern”.
The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) also expressed concern over the situation in the state and sought clarification from the Centre to end the “uncertainty” in the Valley.
“We are concerned about the situation. No one knows what is happening. There is uncertainty. We are seeing this type of situation for the first time and it has raised questions. We want the Centre as well as the state government to clarify what is going on,” JKPCC president G A Mir told reporters in Srinagar.
Mir said the deployment of additional forces, orders by different departments and an advisory asking tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to leave the Valley have created panic here.
“All this leads to speculation that something is happening behind the curtains. We want to know what is going on. We want the Centre and the state to tell the people what is happening so that the uncertainty here ends,” he said.
The JKPCC chief said Article 35-A and Article 370 are the “strongest bridges” between the State and the Centre and the party supports these constitutional guarantees.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh today said that the BJP should tread carefully in the restive Jammu and Kashmir, and warned that a forceful decision in the state could inflict a massive loss on the country.
“Have the heavens fallen that you (Centre) have called off the Amarnath Yatra? A force of 20,000 (troopers) has been sent there (J-K). It is an indication of a big exercise,” he told reporters.
“But the BJP (government) should keep in mind the Valley’s sensitivity and work thoughtfully. If they move ahead forcefully, there is a possibility that the country could suffer massively,” Singh warned.