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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 10 New Delhi February 23, 2019

Probing Queries, Outrageous Outburst

Sunday 24 February 2019

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

An element of uncertainty hovers over the country as one writes these lines. A week has passed since the horrific terror strike in Pulwama, J&K. That happened on February 14. Today is February 21. The entire country stood by the Union Government soon after the terror attack, the worst in the border State that resulted in the deaths of as many as 40 CRPF jawans. Today on the seventh day after the attack the Opposition parties have come out with probing questions on the intelligence and security failures that led to the terror strike, and what the PM was doing immediately following that dastardly incident. This has triggered angry reaction from the BJP accusing the main Opposition party of not just politicising the issue but even demoralising the security forces. Interestingly the Congress is being attacked by members of a party whose ideological forefathers had all along helped the British and kept themselves out of the freedom struggle, especially during the ‘Quit India’ movement.

In the meantime the Union Government’s total silence on the violence on sections of the Indian populace, notably the Kashmiris, in different parts of the country has compelled the Kashmiri leaders, like the National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, a former J&K CM, to assail such reprehensible actions and denounce these in unambiguous terms.

However, most unfortunate and condemnable are the public pronouncements of Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy. Only the other day he made an outrageous comment. Asking the people not to visit Kashmir, not to go to Amarnath for the next two years, not to buy articles from the Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesmen, his terse message was: “Boycott everything Kashmiri.” In the wake of the controversy he has raised, a spokesman of his party has sought to explain away his remarks as being purely his “personal opinion”. This is totally unacceptable. Whatever one’s personal views may be, as long as a person holds a constitutional office, he cannot publicly air “personal” opinions that go against the official policy of the government or are inconsistent with the requirements of the office he is holding.

“Boycott everything Kashmiri” is not the policy of the government, even of the government run by the BJP, the party to which Roy belongs. The Indian state’s well-known position is that Jammu and Kashmir, including that part of Kashmir which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, is an integral part of India. The Kashmiris are very much Indian. A person holding a constitutional office like that of a Governor cannot give a call to boycott the people of an integral part of India. To put it euphemistically, what Roy has said goes against the policy of the government and the interests of the country. Not to put too fine a point on it, the outrageous “personal opinion” that he has expressed publicly, questions his eligibility to the office he occupies.

But till date Tathagata has not been pulled up, leave aside being shown the door. The President too has adopted the role of an onlooker in the matter. This is also unacceptable. He needs to be sacked forthwith.

As we go to press, news has just come that India has taken the decision to stop supplying water from Chenub, Beas and Ravi to Pakistan. Needless to underline, this will cause immense hardship to the Pakistani people and further enhance our bilateral tensions with Pakistan.

February 21 Analyst

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