Ganga disowns statement against stone-pelters under PDP’s pressure
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: Even as BJP’s National General Secretary Ram Madhav forced Minister of Industries Chander Prakash Ganga to disown his controversial statement against the Kashmiri stone- pelters, speakers at the party’s executive committee meeting expressed disappointment over the damage which the party, according to them, had suffered at national level due to its alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources present in the meeting at Patni Top told STATE TIMES that most of the speakers advocated for dismissal of the government and imposition of the Governor’s rule as they contended that the party’s image had “suffered a setback” despite continued “Modi wave” and good performance in Assembly elections and Lok Sabha by-elections in several States.
General Secretary incharge J&K Avinash Rai Khanna listened to the speakers who invariably took a tough stand and stressed on termination of the alliance with the PDP. They described Education Minister Altaf Bukhari’s statement against Ram Madhav and Ganga “provocative” and emphasised that it could cause damage to BJP’s image at the national level.
Earlier on Friday, Ganga disowned his statement under Ram Madhav’s direction and alleged that it had been “distorted” by some channels. He virtually apologised for his suggestion that the Kashmiri stone pelters should be silenced with bullets or stringent punishment.
Perturbed over the PDP’s MLC-elect Yasir Rishi not taking oath of office in Legislative Council on Thursday, Madhav arrived in the winter capital on Friday to plug the fissures caused between the coalition partners because of PDP’s humiliating defeat on a seat in Jammu. According to sources, the PDP top brass called back Rishi in the wake of several “hostile actions” including Ganga’s statement against the stone pelters.
After a meeting at the BJP headquarters, in which Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu explained to Madhav and Khanna how the local unit of BJP had “ditched” the PDP and grabbed three Council seats as compared to PDP’s one, Madhav is said to have directed Ganga to withdraw his statement. Sources said that he also assured Drabu to accommodate PDP in some other matters very soon. Madhav returned to New Delhi in the afternoon.
With the leaders of the two parties making clear that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti would call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on April 23 and the BJP President Amit Shah would be in Jammu on April 29 to start a nation-wide party programme, things seemed to be heading for détente. However, a hard-hitting statement issued by Education Minister Altaf Bukhari led to dramatic developments, forcing the BJP State Executive to take a tough stance.
Bukhari dismissed Ganga’s statement as “a move aimed at legitimizing a crime that is internationally abhorred under covenants of human rights”.
“One fails to understand against whom Madhav has declared war! Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who despite all odds cast their vote reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country,” Bukhari questioned in his statement.
He said modern nations operate under the presumption that in the case of armed conflict, the State must do everything to ensure civilians are not hurt. “However, Madhav seems to be justifying what is unjustifiable under law. Almost all general legal approaches consider human shields illegal both in domestic circumstances and international conflicts,” Bukhari remarked.
Bukhari said some people in the country have unfortunately started arguing that using humans as shields in military operations is justified response to Kashmiri protesters who hurl stones to give vent to their political aspirations. “These statements smack of a hyper-nationalist environment in the country. Unfortunately, people with right-wing approach consider any support for human rights in Kashmir to be anti-national. Let Madhav be reminded that no civilized society can afford to use its’ citizens as shields for military operations,” Bukhari observed.
On the statement of Ganga, the minster for education said that his remarks speak volumes about “intellectual bankruptcy of a person who is holding the responsibility of a public office”. He said that bullets have only created havoc in the world and have brought an enforced thus temporary peace in certain regions.
“Bullets can’t win you a battle of ideas. PDP believes that dialogue is the only way out. Unfortunately instead of initiating dialogue as a confidence building measure to re-instil a sense of belonging among bruised Kashmiris, some BJP insiders are trying to sabotage the whole peace process initiated under Vajpayee regime,” Bukhari regretted.
Meanwhile, Madhav also met the BJP minister Chander Prakash Ganga, who later expressed regret for his recent comment “traitors and stone-pelters should be treated with bullets”.
In his meeting with the Governor, Madhav discussed the initiatives for bringing peace and normalcy in Kashmir.
“Madhav met the Governor and discussed security-related issues with him and the initiatives under consideration for hastening the developmental process and promoting peace and normalcy,” a Raj Bhawan spokesman said.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, the BJP’s state chief Sat Sharma and party’s organisation general secretary Ashok Kaul also attended the meeting.
Later, state police chief S.P. Vaid also joined the meeting at the BJP headquarters.
We held a meeting to discuss and review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Khanna told reporters.
“We are here to discuss arrangements for the forthcoming visit of Amit Shah from April 29, BJP’s Khanna said.
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