Under fire from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad’s controversial remark on Kashmir and the India Amry, the Congress party threw its weight behind its senior leader saying he said nothing wrong and just expressed concerns over rising number civilian casualties in military operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the media at the party office here, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that “this is an unquestionable truth that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”.
“Our armed forces are enough capable to deal with any situation. Ghulam Nabi Azad also repeated this. Restricting civilian casualties to a minimum during military operations is a concern for every citizen. What’s wrong with it? Terrorists and Maoists should be gunned down, but innocents should not be made the target,” he said.
Surjewala added that security agencies and government have always made efforts to neutralise terrorists by ensuring innocents are not killed during military operations. “Is it anti-national to express concern over the killing of an innocent?” he asked.
On former Union minister Saifuddin Soz’s remark endorsing former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf views on Kashmir, Surjewala said that the Congress party believes Kashmir is an integral party of India and it will remain a part of India. He said that the Congress party rejects such statements as a gimmick.
“On behalf of the Congress party, I would like to make it clear that Jammu and Kashmir was, is, and will remain an integral part of India for centuries,” he said.
“Many people will make many statements either to sell books or to garner cheap publicity. But the truth that Kashmir is an integral part of India will not change. We completely reject this statement as a gimmick to sell the book that is yet to come to the mark,” he added.
The Congress party is facing a barrage of criticism over Azad and Soz’s recent remarks. In an interview to a news channel, Azad said that that Army operations in Jammu and Kashmir kill more civilians than terrorists. “They (forces) take action against four terrorists and kill 20 civilians. Their action is more against civilians than terrorists. For instance, they killed 13 civilians in Pulwama and just one terrorist,” he had said. His remark was backed by Pakistan-based terror group LeT which said that it is of the same opinion as of the views of Azad.
Soz stoked controversy with his remark that Musharraf’s over a decade observation about Kashmir that “people will prefer an independent Kashmir if given to exercise freedom of will’ remains relevant in today’s context.
Taking on the Congress party over the statements by its leaders, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, addressing a press conference today, said that Congress was speaking the “language of terrorists” and demanded answers from Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the remarks of the two leaders. “Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remark that ‘Army was killing civilians more than terrorists’, this remark is shameful, unfortunate and irresponsible,” he said. “Ghulam Nabi Azad insulted Indian Army by saying that Army killing more civilians than terrorists.”