In yet another controversy after insult to national anthem, National Conference MLC Shauqat Hussain Ganai described in the Legislative Council the slain Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani as a "martyr", triggering protests from the ruling People's Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janata Party.
During a debate on Kashmir situation, Ganai said Burhan was a "martyr" and that he had "given up his life for the cause of Jammu and Kashmir".
His remark drew protests from BJP and PDP members.
PDP member Firdos Tak said such words should not be spoken on the floor of House.
However, Ganai stood by his remarks and added, "Kashmir is political problem and youth have taken to guns."
BJP MLC Surinder Ambardar also asked Ganai not to resort to such remarks on the floor of House.
Burhan, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit, was killed in an encounter with the security forces in a village of Anantnag district in Kashmir on July 8 last year.
Later, speaking to reporters outside the Council, Ganai said "Burhan Wani is a martyr.
He claimed that there was no FIR or a case against Burhan till 2015 when BJP and PDP government came, and it is they who had said that there was no case of militancy registered against him.
"I don’t know how you can brand him as a terrorist. Jammu and Kashmir is an issue and if he has raised this issue and given sacrifice of his life, he is a martyr. It is my personal opinion, not that of the party," the NC MLC said.
He went on to add, "Whatever the special rights we had in Jammu and Kashmir, central government always tried to bulldoze them and amend them. We had a prime minister and 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' (president) in Jammu and Kashmir and it was changed into the post of chief minister and governor.
"Government of India slowly and steadily eroded the special position of Jammu and Kashmir. If some people fight for restoration of that special status and he loses his life in the fight, what can be he called, he is a martyr?"
Reacting to NC MLC's remarks, Leader of the House and Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said, "It has become a fashion to say that those killed in Kashmir are our children. They are not our children. They (some
politicians) do politics on them and nothing else. We did nothing to save them. They are further pushing them into it. They should be asked what they saying."
Taking a dig at such people, Akhtar said, "We feel good to call our neighbour's son a martyr but God forbid, if our own children are involved, our sentiments are different. My (separatists') own son is well settled in a foreign country and my daughter is working somewhere else."
Slamming the remarks, Ambardar said, "It is very unfortunate. NC is a very responsible party and their legislator talks of a separatist language".
The BJP MLC recalled that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his address to the United Nation General Assembly in September last, had also described Burhan as a "Kashmiri leader".
"It was established in the entire world that Burhan Wani was a terrorist and a Pak agent. Now the NC, being out of power, is glorifying him with this term," Ambardar said.
"Whenever the NC is out of power, it rakes up such issues. It is unfortunate that the honourable member of the NC speaks at the behest of separatists on the floor of the House," he said.