‘Our Islam in J&K is Sufism, love for all, respect for all’

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One of the fierce speakers on the TV, Ravinder Raina is BJP’s Nowshehra lawmaker. Days ahead of his elevation as the party’s state president, Raina, talked in detail about his anger, politics while explaining why he is in a state of celibacy, lacking even a bank account.

KASHMIR LIFE (KL): Who is Ravinder Raina, the man usually shouting on TV?

Ravinder Raina (RR): I am MLA Nowshera. I belong to a very poor farming family. My grandfather was a commander in Indian Army and he fought the wars against British, (and then) the wars of 1947, 1962, 1965 against China and Pakistan. We migrated from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1947 when we were forced out from Pallandri and our properties were destroyed by invaders. We left everything there and settled in Rajouri and Nowshera.

I was born in 1978. I studied from a government school, graduated from government degree college Rajouri and qualified the combined defence services (CDS) test where I was given the Indian navy wing. For two months and 17 days, I worked at Indian Navy’s Western Naval Headquarter, Mumbai, Then I left the job and came back home.
I did my post graduation in International Law in human rights from Jammu Law School and started working for victims of terrorism in Rajouri, Poonch and in Kashmir. I have been to Sopore, Tral, Pulwama, Karnah, Kupwara, Anantnag, Bijbehara areas where some innocent people were killed by Pakistani terrorists. I used to meet the families for condolences and then I floated an NGO Forum for Human Rights and Social Justice.

In Sopore, I remember a case of two daughters Arifa and Akhter who belonged to Muslim Peer Mohalla. Both the girls were slaughtered by the Pakistani terrorists. Their father, a Moulana, had once offered water to army men and same day when he left for Masjid, his two daughters were killed. I provided some financial assistance to that poor and deprived family.

Even in Rajouri, Doda, Poonch, Baderwah, and Kishtwar, I have worked among the Muslims. I worked as a social worker, started providing all sorts of legal and financial assistance by taking donations from well-known people, business houses, media persons.

In 1999, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, I was in college. I wished to meet him but couldn’t. In 2014, I managed to get around 25 terror-affected families and sought a meeting with him. I met him a number of times but I was not interested in joining the politics. I was satisfied with my social work for victims of war.

KL: Why did you join politics when you were not interested?

RR: Since my childhood, I used to follow Vajpayee Sahib. I am his fan and slowly and steadily I have read all his works, write-ups, poetry, and everything about him. I am very much influenced by him and that is why I decided not to marry. I am a bachelor. I am not taking my salary. I donate it to a trust called Mata Vaishno Devi Seva Samiti and it is being used for the poor and the deprived family members of people from all religion. I have provided tents, housing, ration, marriage assistance to all Gujjars.

I don’t have any property. I don’t even have my personal bank account because I came here to serve people. I follow Hubul Watni and Khidmate Khalaq (patriotism and serve the people).

KL: When you joined politics why Congress was not an option for you?

RR: Congress was not an option. I have heard about Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi,  Narshima Roa, and Manmohan Singh. They accumulated wealth for themselves and plundered the nation more than the British. They were playing appeasement politics: coming to Muslim areas and threatening against BJP, getting their votes and forgetting them later.  This worked for them for 70 years. In comparison, Vajpayee went to Pakistan on the bus. When Vajpayee had his rally in Srinagar, a surrendered terrorist from Hizbul Mujahideen, Mubarak Shah Bhutto, once told me, he was given the assignment to blast the rally. He had refused to do it saying Vajpayee is a saint.

KL: Vajpayee was a reconciliatory person but you are a hawk and your language has contributed adversely to the atmosphere in the state?

RR: My friends also tell me that I sound very hard and harsh. But this is not the fact. I have never been against Muslims or Kashmiris or the people of Pakistan but I am against the terrorists, criminals, and murderers of democracy and innocent people. I am against the bloodshed. Once I visited London for a conference at London School of Economics, where I interacted with Pakistani students. They questioned me for spitting venom against Pakistan but I told them that I am against the Pakistani establishment, Pakistani terrorist, who have even destroyed Pakistan as well. Had Benazir Bhutto been in India, I assure you she would have been alive, I told them.
When Musharraf was the President of Pakistan, on one hand, he used to say terrorists are my brothers and sisters and then he blasted Lal Masjid in Lahore. Had I been biased, should I have gone to Sopore? I don’t go there for the vote bank politics. I have never thought of contesting elections from Kashmir valley or elsewhere. But I am a blunt speaker.

KL: Even your role model Vajpayee was positive towards the presence of an issue between India and Pakistan and between J&K and Delhi?

RR: After 1947, Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir acceded with the Indian domain. It was the prerogative of the King to decide whether to sign on the instrument of accession or not. He accepted it on October 26, 1947, and our state became a part of Indian domain. It was a procedure, a process that is settled now.

But in 1947, Pakistan attacked J&K and occupied Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bimber, Kotli, Bagh, Pallandri, and Sudhnothi. Gilgit Baltistan that Pakistan has announced to be its sixth province, are actually parts of Jammu and Kashmir, including Shaksum Valley that Pakistan gifted to China in 1962. If there is any dispute, it is about the areas that are under the illegal possession of Pakistan and China.

KL: Accession was limited to three subjects.

RR: It was an unconditional accession like other states of Gwalior, Patiala, Hyderabad or Junagadh acceded. There was just a single farm that all these states filled. It is propaganda that we acceded on three conditions. I will resign as a legislator if anybody proves that it was based on conditions.

KL: If you consider Kashmir not being a dispute then how do you treat it?

RR: Kashmiris are our brothers. In 1947, when Pakistan entered Uri in Baramulla, there were some youngsters led by Muhammad Maqbool Sherwani who resisted with a slogan Pakistani Hamlawar Khabardaar, Hum Kashmiri Hai Tayaa.In 1947, the population of Baramulla was 13000 and 11000 of them were murdered by Pakistani invaders. Had Sherwani not contributed, Pakistanis would have captured Srinagar airport and it would have been very difficult for Indian forces to land on Srinagar. This is the reason I repeatedly visit his grave on November 7, in Baramulla. I have raised this issue a number of times in J&K assembly that Sherwani should be given the highest civil award of India, Bharat Ratna. I have created a trust in his name as well.

KL: How are you surviving in a coalition which believes Kashmir is an issue?

RR: It is not a compulsion. It was a political obligation as the people of Jammu voted for BJP and people in Kashmir voted in favour of the PDP. If BJP formed the government with other than PDP, Kashmiris would have thought that their mandate is sold and vice versa. We did it on the lines of having one agenda of the alliance. They have their own self-rule agenda and we have our own issues.

KL: Is it uncomfortable for both of you?

RR: Naturally! But when you come to serve the people, you have only obligation to serve the people with all conviction. We are committed to doing justice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and we want peace, normalcy, brotherhood, love, affection should prevail in all the three regions. We want Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas.

KL: Is the pellet gun doing that justice without any discrimination?

RR: Nobody wants to bleed. Whenever a pellet hits my innocent child anywhere in Kashmiri it bleeds my hearts also.

KL: Have you ever spoken against the injustice done with people?

RR: Yes a number of times. Whenever a drop of blood is shed in Kashmir, it bleeds my heart because these are Indians, my people. The people who pelt stones, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz, Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, they are all Indians. They do silly politics. I request them to shun the attitude of hate, and arrogance. Look at the suffering of the father and the mother, whose kids get killed. Geelani, Mirwaiz, Malik, Shabir Shah are putting blots on Islam. Our Islam in Jammu and Kashmir is Sufism, love for all, respect for all.

KL: Have you right wingers have squeezed the Gujjars?

Images: Junaid Hashimi

RR: Gujjars are in my constituency voted for me. I have given them electricity, roads are in progress, water supply and none of their houses were damaged by the forest department. But there are some big business houses, and landlords, who retain poor Gujjars and Bakerwals as their slaves. They have business worth crores and under the Roshni Act; they have encroached upon the large chunk of government land in forests. These Gujjars and Bakerwala work as their watchmen. It is them who attack these poor people behind the curtain. We love Gujjars and Bakerwals because they are more Indians, more nationalists, more patriotic than Ravinder Raina. That is why I salute them.

KL: You did not talk about Kathua incident on TV?

RR: I condemned it on the very first day. I personally went to their house in Hiranagar along with the local MLA, Kuldeep ji. Such kind of brutalities cannot be tolerated. This was inhuman. From the day one, I have been demanding capital punishment for all those criminals. They must be hanged till death. And before hanging they should be tied with the gipsy and driven through all the cities so that in future no one can even think of resorting to such kind of brutality.

KL: You remember some Kashmiri truck drivers were roasted alive on the highway?

RR: Whenever there is a killing of the innocent people I always condemn. All such type of incidents is a blot on our society, our democratic setup. It is intolerable and we should ask for punishment to all culprits.

KL: Chief Minister said TV is contributing adversely to the situation in J&K. Since you are among the few persons Prime Minister recognized for being more on TV than on the ground, do not you think you it was a pointer towards to you as well?

RR: I have high regards for the Chief Minister and her predecessor Omar Abdullah. They are our leaders. Sometimes there is hue and cry on TV channels but all these media houses play a very positive role. Media cannot be blamed but yes sometimes for their TRPs they do it. By and large, Indian media is free and fair.

KL: You are very particular about your own TRPs because you want to be BJP’s president in Jammu and Kashmir?

RR: No. I don’t believe in TRPs. I have nothing in my name. No bank account, no salary, I don’t have any room in my name, I don’t have any vehicle, even when as an MLA you are entitled to have Rs 20 lakh of housing loans, Rs 10 lakhs for a vehicle. I have not even drawn anything from the treasury for my health check-up.

KL: That makes you a better choice for being a president because PM is also bachelor and has nothing in his name?

RR: We have some principles and our principles are Hubul Watni and Khidmate Khalaq. I don’t want TRPs, I am a simple worker of my party. Even in 2014 elections, I repeatedly asked my party that I don’t want to contest the elections and they should choose anybody else but my people protested saying they will boycott the elections if the mandate was not given to me.

KL: Do you think a stone required a bullet?

RR: Kashmiri youngsters are not the stone pelters. There are few youths, who are being managed. Through your magazine, I request them not to do this.

KL: If they are doing it because they are managed then they should not be fired upon?

RR: That is why utmost restraint is there. There were some videos on social media showing how CRP jawans on election duty were attacked but they restrained. After that incident, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti cautioned Kashmiris. And what happened on the night of Shab e Qadar when DSP Muhammad Ayub was lynched. SHO Achabal Feroz Dar and Lt Umar Fayaz of Kulgam was brutally murdered.  It bleeds my heart. I have seen the visuals of the daughter of ASI Shah of Qazigund. For three days no food was cooked in my kitchen. Is this jihad, is this Islam?

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