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2 weeks ago

J&K people fought against stone throwing, gun culture: Srinagar MP Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi

New Delhi: Srinagar Member of Parliament Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said that since India’s independence the Kashmir Valley witnessed only three summers of stone pelting – in 2008, 2010, and 2016. He added that for nearly 72 years there was no such activity in the Valley.

Mr. Mehdi said people here have fought against gun culture and militancy with their “own blood”.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Mehdi said that the huge voter turnout in Kashmir during the Lok Sabha election was a mandate against the abrogation of Article 370 and the incarceration of hundreds of youths by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government at the Centre. He said there will be an even better turnout in the Assembly election when they are held “to send a message to the rest of India that we do not accept the decisions this government has taken vis-à-vis J&K and we do not agree to be the second class citizens of this country”.

Mr. Mehdi said, “My priority will be to secure the release of over hundreds of men who are languishing in jails in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana etc. without any trial. Their families spend a lot to travel to these places, yet they are not allowed to meet their children. I am preparing a list of such youth and will present them in the Parliament.”

When asked about there being a merit in government’s claim that since August 2019, the instances of stone pelting, violence, hartals have reduced to none, Mr. Mehdi countered, “You delete three years from 70-75 years and you can come to the conclusion that for a good 72-years there was no stone pelting. We the people of J&K have fought against stone pelting, against the gun culture, we have given sacrifices. I lost my father, my father was assassinated because he believed in democracy and fought against the idea of gun. Peace will only return when people in J&K will have sense of empowerment and achievement. The way this regime has dealt with them, they feel a sense of defeat. It is a forced calm.”

He said after there was a rise in stone throwing incidents in 2008 and 2010, the 2011-12 panchayat elections saw a voter turnout of over 80%.

Soon after he was sworn-in Lok Sabha, Mr. Mehdi in an inaugural speech on June 26 urged Speaker Om Birla to ensure the sanctity of the House by restraining members from labelling Muslim members as “terrorists”. Mr. Mehdi said later many members from the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance bloc, including Mahua Moitra (Trinamool) and Chandrashekhar Azad (Azad Samaj Party) congratulated him for raising the issue.

He said, “One of the priority is to ensure the rights of the minorities and I don’t only mean Muslims, it includes all minorities.”

During the election campaign he tendered an unconditional apology to the Kashmiri Pandits. Reiterating the stand, he said, “We as a Muslim community were hostages of the same situation which pushed the Kashmiri Pandits away. Still, I apologise, we are morally incomplete without them. I want to sit with them and frame a roadmap for their return with dignity, to their original homes, not to the ghettos and gated communities. The way BJP has dealt with the issue is for all of to see. They have used them as objects for their political gain, but they have failed to do anything substantial for their return. They used their subject for propaganda movies, to benefit their election propaganda.”

He said people came out in huge numbers to vote in the Lok Sabha elections “to show their anger and dissent democratically against the decisions taken on August 5, 2019”.

On revival of militancy in Jammu division, he said, “The terrorist enablers would want that to continue and would want to push it to places where it was not there otherwise. We need to bring the people on our side so that ground for terrorism is not fertile. We have pushed the people away, people of J&K are not in favour of terrorism, our population in millions but terrorists are in tens.”

He stated that the BJP government is in power in J&K since 2014 including as a coalition partner yet targeted attack against migrant workers continue. “It proves that everything is not fine. Militant and militancy continues to function, terrorists function at will, they choose the place and target, this Government has been ruling since 2014, for the last ten years. Questions need to be asked of them, why is this still continuing?” he said.

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