New Delhi: Terming it as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘worrisome’ that the Home Ministry asked the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to curtail their stay and go back, the Congress on Saturday said that the BJP government is creating the image that outsiders are not safe in Jammu and Kashmir, while the locals are fully lined with tourists and pilgrims.
“We condemn this attitude of the BJP government”, said party’s Rajya Sabha leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in a press conference at AICC headquarters, along with other members of Congress Policy Planning Group on Kashmir, P Chidambaram, Ambika Soni, Dr Karan Singh and Anand Sharma.
Ms Soni said that Congress’s Policy Planning Group, has discussed the issue under the leadership of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Friday, and added that “the fear that is being created and the cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra is just not fair”.
Referring to the government’s advisory, that had instructed all tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to return from Jammu and Kashmir, despite having 15 days of travel left, Mr Azad said, “this has never happened before”.
“In 1989 under the BJP Supported government, Kashmiri Pandits were evicted from everywhere, which still exists as a stigma. 30 years later, a similar situation is in front of us. This is not good for Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Azad said.
He pointed that the labourers living in Jammu and Kashmir are returning and students from various educational institutions are returning.
“The government is sending buses to bring them back. A similar situation happened under BJP- backed VP Singh govt in 1989”, he added.
He also said that incidents related to terrorism happened in Kashmir even during the previous governments but the security advisory for Amarnath pilgrims and tourists has never happened before.
“Never ever in the past, during Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narsimha Rao’s time, did the government ask the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay and go back. This is unprecedented”, stressed Mr Azad.
He pointed out that people in Kashmir and Leh and Ladakh are in a state of confusion and very scared and added that “every Kashmiri is welcoming the tourists with open arms but the government is trying to scare people and spreading hate towards locals in the Valley. BJP is perpetrating hate in the Valley,” he alleged.
“Even in the year 2000, when most passengers and civilians were killed in an attack, no such advisory was issued” Mr Azad said.
Mr Chidambaram, who was the Home Minister during UPA rule, said that he had warned the government against embargoing on any misadventure but they did not listen.
“There are special constitutional provisions for Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland Meghalaya and Jammu Kashmir, just because we have made these provision it doesn’t mean it can be unmade too. In the last 48 hours, it appears that the Home Ministry is preparing for some misadventure in Jammu Kashmir, and if they think that they can push it through without any legal measures, they are completely wrong”, said Mr Chidambaram.
Describing that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir worrisome, Dr Karan Singh said that situation created in Jammu and Kashmir will eventually lead to the end of all the development in the state.
“In my 70 years of public life, I have never seen a situation like this in Jammu and Kashmir where even the Amarnath Yatra had to be closed. This will leave a deep impact on Shiva devotees”, he added.
Pointing out that this is a peak season for local shopkeepers and traders to earn their livelihood in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Anand Sharma said that the fear created in the state will destroy everything.