The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday claimed that the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir was the worst since independence, with militants virtually practising 'ethnic cleansing' there. The party warned the government that any thought of granting autonomy to Kashmir would amount to a 'post-dated cheque' for freedom.
"The biggest example of the failure of Indian secularism is Kashmir. Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave. Sikhs who go there are beaten up and their hair is cut. This is like ethnic cleansing as those who do not adhere to their (separatists') religion are forced to leave," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said. He was speaking at a function held in Delhi as part of 'Save Kashmir Day' being observed by BJP across the country.
The BJP warned the Centre not to tread the path of granting autonomy to Kashmir under pressure from 'stone-throwers in the valley', who had caused a law and order situation in the state. Jaitley said there was a growing perception among separatists active in Kashmir that the Manmohan Singh government was "weak and it is very easy to get anything from it.
"They think this government can be scared and threatened with stones," he said.
He alleged that the prime minister and the government are 'weak' and cannot think of how to solve the Kashmir issue. "Sometimes it is suggested that give Kashmir autonomy. To convert autonomy to freedom is only a stone's throw away," Jaitley said.
"The prime minister has run out of ideas. He feels forming a commission for economic and industrial development and job creation is the solution," he added.
Jaitley argued that the BJP was a nationalist political party which would never allow Kashmir to get separated from India.
"Granting autonomy to Kashmir would be a kind of post-dated cheque for freedom. We would like to tell the Centre that it does not have the mandate to divide the country," Jaitley said.
He further argued that the age for 'redrawing geopolitical boundaries' was over and the hope that Article 370, which confers special status to the state, gave to separatists was a
'distant, impossible dream'.
Jaitley insisted that the current situation in Kashmir was the worst in the last 63 years and blamed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the erstwhile Congress governments for it.
"The Kashmir policy of India was a Nehruvian blunder. The money being spent today for our security in Kashmir would have been spent on farmers and in fighting hunger (had this blunder not taken place)," he said.
The BJP leader maintained that the terrorists, after failing to win Kashmir through terrorism, have now resorted to a new strategy of mob violence.
"They have realised that there is no global appetite for terrorism. So now they are adopting a new strategy of mob violence (stone-throwing)," Jaitley said.
He alleged that while the central government was weak, even the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir was clueless about how to fight the separatists and stone-pelters.
"We told Farooq Abdullah to convince his son (Omar) to go to the people to heal their wounds. But Omar chose to visit a hospital just 12 km away in a helicopter to meet those injured in the violence," Jaitley said.