Union Minister for Finance, Information and Broadcasting, ArunJaitley Wednesday asserted that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and Pakistan must understand that it can’t get any part of the country “as time has changed and borders can’t be re-written.”
He also said the high voter turnout in the ongoing elections reflects that there was a yearning for change and people have rejected violence and gun.
Speaking at an interactive session of civil society members and intellectuals here, Jaitley said: “Once upon a time, there used to be complaints as to how fair JK elections are. Today, JK polls are historic in nature. I observed that JK has registered more turnout than Jharkhand,” he said. “The people of JK are using the power of vote and democracy. They have made it clear that gun, bullets and violence are not acceptable to them.”
The Union Minister said by coming out in large numbers to vote, “people of JK have rejected polices of those who projected poll boycott.”
“Despite changing weather conditions, people are coming out in huge numbers to exercise their right to vote. I congratulate them. The people of this state have sent a message across the world that they will change their fate through the power of vote,” Jaitley said.
He said people in the strife-torn State have gone through many miseries. “I am not talking about floods only but the trouble people faced here over the past many decades,” Jaitley said. “Now people are fed up with whatever happened here. They want a change now.”
The Union Minister said JK is an integral part of India. “Pakistan must understand that it can’t get any part of India. Time has changed and borders can’t be re-written. The capability of India to deal with challenges has increased manifold. We comprise one-sixth population of world,” Jaitley said.
“Our Economy and Military power has also increased to an extent that we can deal with violence, militancy, and insurgency much more effectively. Those who took up guns to convey their message are not acceptable to world. The global appetite for those who indulge in violence is not acceptable.”
Reiterating that people of JK deserve applause for registering huge turnout in ongoing Assembly polls, Jaitley said “time has come when this State should have national mainstream government.”
“We should not lose this historic opportunity,” Jaitley said.
ON ARTICLE 370:
The Union Minister, without naming the Article 370, stated that people of JK were not interested in what powers Centre and State must have. “There is obviously a difference of opinion between BJP and various regional parties here over constitutional structure of the State. But a common man is not interested in what powers Centre and State should have,” he said. “In the recent floods, people didn’t talk about powers lying with the Centre and State. He needs a security, a secure atmosphere like we have in any other State of the country. I believe, a common man’s sufferings are not linked with the powers Centre have and what State will get.”
He said the common man in JK is concerned about justice and if justice has been done with them. “There can be different opinions on political issues,” he said.
ON TALKS WITH SEPARATISTS:
“Those who are promoting separatism must join mainstream. We will welcome them. We will talk to them (separatists) with open heart and mind if they join mainstream,” he said, without naming any separatist leader or organization.
The Union Minister said when former Prime Minister of India AtalBihari Vajpayee stated ‘Insaniyat Kay Dairiyein Mein’ (Within the Abmit of Humanity) the statement was hailed “Today our opponents are mixing Vajpayee’s statement with some political issues. I would say Insaniyat doesn’t mean violence and militancy. It doesn’t mean India should get disintegrated,” he said. “Insaniyat means whenever there is an injustice, justice should take place.”
ON HR VIOLATIONS:
The Union Home Minister, who was also holding the charge of Defence Ministry for a couple of months when Prime Minister NarenderaModi took the reins of India, said: “Our government has a policy that if there is a small or big incident where injustice has happened, justice must prevail. When two youth were killed and two others seriously injured, PM Modi directed me to inquire into the incident. I got the feedback from army and within two hours, I tendered apology and condemned the incident on my twitter page.”
He said it was for the first time in India’s history that soldiers involved in the act were indicted.
ABOUT FLOOD DEVASTATION:
Jaitley said there is no doubt that floods wreaked havoc in Jammu and Kashmir. “The State government’s response was delayed. Some rehabilitation has been done but a lot more needs to be done. I directed Banks to adopt liberal approach and give loans where there should be no interest for two years,” he said. “Since code of conduct is in place, I can’t make any major announcement. But I want to assure the people of JK including those living adjacent to Jehlum banks that we will not rest until last house, last man, last shop is rehabilitated.”
ON JK’S POTENTIAL:
The Union Minister said JK has been bestowed by nature with ample resources like water, tourism and beauty. “And still there is no electricity and yet, there is huge unemployment. The Centre will send funds but it is the regions that will have to rise to an occasion to ensure their proper utilization,” he said. “This place is known as paradise on earth. Tourism has a great potential here. Not just the beauty of places, but we have a great potential for religious tourism here. There is no comparison to the work of Kashmiri artisans.”
Jaitley said despite having enough water, JK faces electricity deficit. “This State has a capacity to supply power to other States. A lot needs to be done in this sector as well,” he said. “JK needs a high quality educational infrastructure. A single Medical College won’t do.”
In his 40-minute speech, the Union Home Minister also praised Kashmiri cuisine. “I remember mouthwatering Kashmiri dishes that are popular across the globe,” he said.
The Union Finance Minister was accompanied by BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, party MP and JK affairs in-charge AvinashRaiKhana and senior BJP leader P S Gill.
Union Finance Minister also held an interactive session and replied to a volley of questions raised by tour operators, houseboat owners and Civil Society members. Majority of the tour operators sought speedy rehabilitation of the flood hit people of JK. They explained the plight of house-boat owners and the damage caused to tourism infrastructure in the recent floods. A farmer also sought relief for crops damaged in the deluge.
Jaitley promised all possible support. “I am sure that we can walk together in addressing the issues and I am hopeful that we will achieve the mission,” he said.
In reply to a query about ill-treatment meted out to the students admitted in various colleges and universities of India under Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme, and those employed under the Udaan and Himayat schemes launched during UPA regime, the Union Finance Minister said soon after landing in New Delhi, he will talk to the concerned and sort out the issues. The interaction session was moderated by BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir.