Press Trust of india

Despite all its efforts, Pakistan cannot take an inch of J&K land: Azad

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Jammu: Pakistan cannot take an inch of Jammu and Kashmir’s territory despite all its efforts, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Sunday, lauding the security forces and the people of the union territory for fighting “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism” for the past over three decades.

On the National Conference’s and the PDP’s persistent demand for holding dialogue with Pakistan to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said the decision on holding talks should be left to the BJP-led Centre.

Addressing a public meeting at Khour near the International Border in Jammu, Azad said border residents are the guardians of Indian borders and stand with the security forces.

“You have suffered a lot due to Pakistani shelling and firing over the past three decades. This is your third generation who are born and brought up under the roaring guns. Your fields remained uncultivated after mines were laid to stop infiltration from Pakistan.

“You lost many lives, houses and livelihood to Pak shelling and firing. But I want to tell you that despite all its efforts, Pakistan cannot take even an inch of our land,” the Congress leader said.

He said it is India’s greatness that whichever party comes to power, its priority remains the defense of the borders.

“Want to remind Pakistan of its defeat in 1971 when our forces under the leadership of then prime minister Indira Gandhi separated Bangladesh. If you make any misadventure, we will teach you a lesson,” he said.

Talking to reporters, Azad said the decision to begin any dialogue with Pakistan should be left to the government.

“I am nobody because I do not have to talk and I also do not know what the gravity of the situation is. It is not for the first time (we are not talking with Pakistan). Even in the past, we have discontinued talks during our government,” he said, adding when things improve between the two countries and atmosphere is conducive, the talks can be held.

“So I think it is the government of India at the moment who shall have to decide,” he said, responding to a question on persistent demands by the NC and the PDP for dialogue to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Assuring the border residents that whole of the country is behind them, Azad said he wants to tell Pakistan that India is united and nobody can harm it.

He said “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has ruined Kashmir but its attempt to disturb peace in Jammu region was frustrated by the people who stood united against the enemies of the country and their conspiracies.”

Cautioning people against attempts to polarise the situation in the region ahead of Assembly elections, Azad said politics is meant to bring people closer to each other but “there are some national and regional parties who are out to divide people on the name of religion, region, caste and creed.

“We are fighting Pak sponsored terrorism for the last 31 years…We cannot afford internal fighting. If we have to move forward, we have to stand united and not fall to mischievous propaganda,” the Congress leader said, adding “we have to bring down the walls of hatred and become one for our nation and its progress and prosperity.”

He said the Congress never played politics on the basis of region or religion. “We will continue to work for the betterment of the people, their prosperity and ensure no discrimination.”

Targeting the BJP, he said the country is witness to “wrong politics” which is not based on justice.

“The government is equal for every citizen and does justice whether someone has voted for it or not. Everyone should be given his or her right but the situation today is that only those close to the ruling party are getting contracts while others are being sidelined,” he said.

Referring to the August 05, 2019 development when the special status of J&K under Article 370 was abrogated and the erstwhile state was divided into two Union Territories, he said, “Our struggle is based on justice as our state was snatched along with our rights over land and jobs.”

“We have never imagined that the largest Dogra state will be downgraded. This has happened for the first time in our country and no other government can think of such a flawed decision, he said, adding “I regret the thought which led to the suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Azad alleged that the continuation of closure of schools in Jammu and Kashmir smells of a conspiracy as the government jobs have been opened for the youth of the rest of the country. “When our students are out of their schools for so long, how come they compete with their counterparts from other places?”

He said while the rest of India is moving ahead, the people in Jammu and Kashmir are headed towards poverty.

“We need a change which is possible when you support us. You have seen the rule of National Conference, PDP, Congress and BJP and now it is easy for you to decide whom to vote for,” he said, appealing to the people to reject the parties dividing them.

‘I am 24 ‘Carat’ Congressman, not upset with party’

Ghulam Nabi Azad Sunday put to rest all speculations about his possible exit from the party, calling himself a “24 Carat Congressman” and saying he was not upset with the party, but was instead working for unifying and uniting its workers.

The former chief minister has been holding public rallies in Jammu and Kashmir over the past nearly two months and was seen accompanied by his loyalists including senior party leaders and former ministers who recently resigned from their party posts in a revolt against J&K Congress president G A Mir.

Talking to reporters after addressing a public meeting in the border belt of Khour on the outskirts of Jammu, Azad, however, said reforms are a dynamic process and imperative for every party, society and the country as a whole for the benefit of people.

“Yes, I am a Congressman. Who told you I am not? 24 ‘Carat’ Congressman. How does it matter if 18 Carats are challenging 24 carat?” Azad said, responding to questions about the speculations of his possible exit from the party like former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.

Azad, who was among the 23 Congress leaders who had sought an organisational overhaul last year, said he is not displeased with the party.

“Those dividing parties only see divisions. We are the ones who are linking people. We are forging unity (in the party ranks) as we are for unification,” he said.

Asked about his call for reforms, he said reforms are needed in every party, every society and country.

“Reforms are an ongoing process and necessary in every party…the legislature is also a sort of reform. Many evils of the past are not there in the society today because of reforms,” he said, adding the communalism and casteism prevalent in society today also need to be reformed.

Azad said reforms are an ongoing process, a dynamic process which continues throughout the world.

About his views on “white colour terrorism” highlighted by a Srinagar-based Army officer, he said he did not know what does he meant by it.

“I have already said that the politicians should have done the right things for the welfare of the people but sometimes they did the work of Satan by dividing the people. We should desist from it,” he said.

On a question about the prospects of Congress in the next Assembly elections likely to be held after the delimitation exercise, Azad said people are the masters in a democratic set-up and defeat and win of any party is in their hands.

However, he said people across Jammu and Kashmir are “fed up” with the BJP because of rising inflation and growing unemployment.

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