News Analysis |
Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no power in the world can take Kashmir away from India and if need be, forces can cross border to protect India’s territorial integrity. The recent statement by the Minister is upping the ante between the two South Asian nuclear powers already embroiled in diplomatic tensions and border artillery duels.
“Kashmir is, was and will always be ours. No one can take it from us,” Singh said, addressing the CNN News18 Rising India Summit. He praised the Indian army for its valor to secure the country and warned Pakistan, stating “we not only secure India within but can also cross the border to protect the country, if needed. No one should take it otherwise.”
He said India wanted good ties with Pakistan, provided it stopped aiding terrorists. “Now the US is condemning Pakistan. I don’t know what happened to Pakistan. We want good relations with Pakistan but it has refused to accept our offer of friendship.”
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Indian forces in 2018 have carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the deaths of 19 innocent civilians and injuries to 69 others.
“Pakistan is giving legitimacy to UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed who is establishing a political party there and wants to contest elections,” he said. The Union Minister said the Indian government was keen on finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem and was open to speak to anyone.
To resolve the Kashmir issue, Singh said, the government-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, a former intelligence bureau chief, who is moving forward and has invited people from all sections for talks.
He claimed that despite Pakistan’s best efforts, Kashmir would never be separated from India. “Kashmir was with India, Kashmir is with India and Kashmir will remain with India forever,” he said. Singh said Kashmir’s children were like his own and he would not allow anyone to radicalize them.
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“I want to tell those who are trying to teach jihad to innocent Kashmiri youths that they should first learn the real concept of jihad in Islam,” he said. The minister said he had personally asked Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ignore cases filed against the first-time stone-pelters.
Following Singh’s request, the Jammu and Kashmir government had withdrawn cases registered against 9,730 people involved in stone-pelting incidents, including first-time offenders. “We have forgiven first-time stone-pelters. They might have been influenced by others. They are young. We need to give them a second chance,” he said. Rajnath’s statements come amidst a flurry of allegations by both sides, accusing each other of harassing diplomats in their respective capitals.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of having carried out an equivalent campaign of harassment against its own diplomats posted in Islamabad, alleging that Pakistani spy agency personnel entered the embassy’s residential compound.
Earlier this week, Pakistan said at least three of its diplomats had been harassed in New Delhi, and several of their children had been intimidated and threatened on their way home from school. The statement states that the “deliberate bullying” is not confined to a single isolated event, but continues unabated in a series of incidents targeting the families of the officers.
According to the statement, a car carrying school-going children of Pakistan’s counselor was followed by “unknown persons on cars and motorcycles”. Moreover, the vehicle was blocked and videos and photographs of the children were constantly made for 40 minutes.
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Alongside, the drivers of the high commission were forcibly halted and their mobile phones aggressively switched off to prevent them from contacting anyone. In another incident, the vehicle of another senior counselor was forcefully stopped by an unknown individual who then disembarked and took pictures of the counselor. The unknown individual did not let the senior counselor’s vehicle pass obstructing his vehicle, turning a ten-minute journey home into a 90-minute ordeal.
Tuesday’s incidents are not the first, rather, a continuing trend that started last week on Wednesday when a senior diplomat’s vehicle was stopped and damaged. The following day the Deputy High Commissioners’ vehicle was chased by unknown individuals in a car and on a motorbike, who dragged the driver out of the car and hurled abuses at him.
Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no power in the world can take Kashmir away from India and if need be, forces can cross border to protect India’s territorial integrity.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of having carried out an equivalent campaign of harassment against its own diplomats posted in Islamabad, alleging that Pakistani spy agency personnel entered the embassy’s residential compound. Among the accusations by India are “ringing the doorbell at 3 am”.
Another serious aspect is the escalation of firing through artillery along the LoC. According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Indian forces in 2018 have carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the deaths of 19 innocent civilians and injuries to 69 others. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations.
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Rajnath has aluded to a “Surgical Strike” style operation that it claimed to have carried out last year. However, Pakistan as well as the UN has denied any such event as occurring. Many analysts point to such statements from the Indian government as resulting from domestic pressures. Mostly the Indian leadership indulges in such hostility in order to deviate local attention.
There is a stark need for both sides to deescalate the tensions.