BJP’s state unit president and MLA Jugal Kishore Sharma tells Syed Asma that Kishtwar crisis is part of a larger conspiracy to force minorities to migrate from Chenab valley.
Kashmir Life (KL): BJP is accused of instigating communal violence in Kishtwar? Even your party workers have been arrested on the same allegations in the area. Comment?
Jugal Kishore(JK): The allegation is wrong and how do you say that they are our workers? And how can you say that it was instigated by us when their [Muslim’s] huge gathering was approaching towards us carrying lathis and sticks. They have looted our residences and shops. Now can you involve BJP in this?
KL: But you had asked for the release of your party workers who were arrested for being involved in the riots?
JK: No, I had not asked for the release of BJP workers but had asked for the release of all the innocent people who were arrested. See, to maintain peace and calm in Kishtwar, police picked-up any one and almost everyone from the streets but most of them were innocent. Police did this to maintain calm and peace in the area. So, BJP was asking for the release of all the innocents and never mentioned about their own party activist as it is their duty. Look, if police commits a mistake and in this case they have committed a mistake by picking up innocents, so, it is our duty to ask for their release.
KL: Is your party taking any action against the PSO of your MLA who was arrested for being involved in the riots?
JK: Yes, I have heard that one of the bikers arrested was the PSO of our leader but I think he also was beaten up by the mob and his bike was put on fire.
KL: So, are you taking any action against him because police says he was involved in the communal riots?
JK: How does it matter what the police say? Let police say what they want! They [police] say a lot of things but we don’t trust them. We at our own level have investigated and have asked eye witnesses and we found it was a one way attack. The people [Muslim] were carrying weapons and lathis, they were not there to pray but were there to attack us. It seems it was all pre-planned as they carried all these weapons with them.
KL: If Muslims had gathered for Eid prayers what were Hindus doing there?
JK: Hindus were not there but after Muslims finished their prayers, they became violent and started damaging our property. Muslims broke into our homes and shops. They looted them and even put some of them on fire.
KL: What do you think what prompted Muslims to behave like this on Eid and that too immediately after prayers? Something might have happened?
JK: As far as I have heard, Muslims had come prepared to attack us otherwise it would not have been possible to damage such huge property, as many as 100 shops were burnt, many houses looted and many people were injured. A lot of vehicles were put on fire as well. So, how is it possible that Hindus were there and had instigated violence, attacked people and damaged the property. So, it was a one-side attack that too planned by the people who had come to offer prayers.
I think it is conspiracy that is boiling in the area for some time now, the conspiracy of forcing the minority to migrate from the place.
KL: Do you mean Muslims in Kishtwar want Hindus to migrate from the place?
JK: Yes, I mean that. May be a Muslim commoner does not want this, but their leadership seem to play this conspiracy. It is also possible that a few of their leaders are sponsored by Pakistan and are told to do this. These people do not want Hindus and Muslims to live in harmony with each other. It can also be the vote bank politics, there are so many apprehensions that one can have while interpreting the situation.
KL: Are these only your apprehensions or some leaders or organisations have been vocal about it?
JK: I do not think there can be any other reason for instigating violence in the area but this. We could figure it out when one of the Ministers of the state being a local did not pay any heed to control the situation. What else should I understand from it?
KL: BJP has a comparatively better position in Jammu than the other two regions. Will Narendra Modi be visiting Jammu or Kishtwar any time sooner to assess the situation or even for campaigning for the upcoming elections?
JK: As of now no! When the campaigning will be at its peak we will be getting Narendra Ji here. The date is not decided yet and it is too early for it, I think.
KL: BJP demands further strengthening of VDCs in the state because it believes they have significantly countered militancy but if we go by figures it is the adverse?
JK: I don’t think figures matter. As far as I know VDC members even worked against militancy when it was at its peak. They have sustained many attacks and have even protected locals from getting killed. You might not know but in these areas militants have killed dozens of people in weddings or other social gatherings but these VDCs have still been there and contributed their bit. I do not have figures but have heard a lot of incidents where VDCs have countered militants and have been successful.
I think if VDCs were not there, the minorities would have been forced to migrate long back.
KL: What are your expectations from election 2014?
JK: BJP will try its best to win as many seats as it can.
KL: Any specific strategy to achieve this target in Kashmir?
JK: We have started to sensitize youth at block level and our workers are working on ground to earn as much support as we can. Besides, we are planning to get Narender Ji to Srinagar where he will address the youth and exchange ideas.
KL: Jammu State Morcha openly asks for status of a separate state and BJP too has been vocal about somewhat similar demands. So, do we see another Telangana boiling in the state?
JK: If the state government wants, it can stop the new Telangana in making. We also want Jammu and Kashmir to be a single state but the discrimination that Jammu province faces in terms of funds, jobs recruitments and building infrastructure etc compels its people to think of separation. Jammu is an ignored region which is unacceptable to its people and thus they ask for a separate state. Though, BJP does not agree with this ideology but wants this discrimination to stop.
KL: But people in Kashmir and Ladakh accuse Jammu of the same.
JS: No, Jammu does not get any funds if compared with Kashmir. If you do not have figures I can provide you. The point is this discrimination with Jammu should be stopped as early as possible.