Rajnath Singh at HT Leadership Summit: Home Minister blames Pakistan for troubles in J&K; calls Naxalism biggest challenge

Covering a range of subjects from farm distress to security challenges both within and external, Union home minister Rajnath Singh gave a general impression of the government's views on this array of topics while delivering the keynote address at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday. Singh sounded optimistic on two critical fronts sticking to the government claim that the income of farmers would indeed double by 2022 and that Pakistan will be forced to mend its ways as isolation of the country in the international circuit increasingly mounts.

The summit themed Reimagining The Future for this year's edition, had the home minister in conversation with the Hindustan Times editor-in-chief Sashi Shekhar. Following is the assortment of issues that Singh chose to touch upon during the discourse:

Rajnath Singh at the Hindustan Times leadership summit. News18

Rajnath Singh at the Hindustan Times leadership summit. News18

On Jammu and Kashmir vis-a-vis Pakistan

Regarding Pakistan, he stated that though they are our neighbour, if they fire at India, the BSF will retaliate. "I have always told the forces that we should never fire first. Pakistan is our neighbour. But, if they shoot at us then we should not ponder on what to do," said Singh.

He also said that the problems that India faces with regard to Jammu and Kashmir are mostly because of Pakistan. "I do agree that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir should improve. The problem that we face in Jammu and Kashmir is mostly because of Pakistan," he said.

However, he also spoke about how the terror incidents have drastically improved in Jammu and Kashmir. There were 6,000 terror incidents in 1995. There were approximately 360 such incidents in 2017, said Singh. When asked about stone pelting in the state, he said that stone pelters were present in before they formed a government.

He admitted that the BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir was not successful.

Singh said that hopefully at some point, Pakistan will change its ways. "Pakistan will change its way at some point, it has been isolated internationally. Even Islamic countries have spoken against it. I am glad that Muslims in India have not allowed radicalisation to rise," said Singh.

On Naxalism

While speaking about Naxalism, Singh stated that it is the biggest security challenge in the country. He claimed that Maoism needs to be eradicated from the roots. Singh said the government had succeeded in containing the Maoist activities to 52-53 districts of the country, much lower than the 126 districts four years earlier.

With regard to the Naxal movement in urban areas that are taking place, Singh said that nobody should be allowed to promote violence in the country. "There are people who are trying to incite violence or support violence using Maoism, we will not allow that," he said.

Singh rejected the criticism that the arrest of five activists with regard to the Bhima Koregaon violence was linked to their ideology or that the police had not done their homework before going public with their allegations. "If the decision had been taken in hurry, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have given a free hand to the police," said the Union home minister.

He also condemned the murder of TDP leaders at the hands of Naxals in Andhra Pradesh, calling it unfortunate.

On the plight of farmers

On the Kisan Kranti Yatra that took place on Tuesday and how he managed to placate the farmers, Singh said that he understood the plight of the farmers. The Union home minister stated that farmers are the biggest producers and consumers, but not enough has been done to solve their problems.

He reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise that by 2022, farmers' income would double. "I agree that the agriculture sector has been shaken. Not enough focus has been laid on the sector. But we are continuing to work towards their benefit. The prime minister has already promised that farmer income will double by 2022," said Singh. "We are working on increasing Minimum Support Price on various crops. The country's economy will get a good momentum if the farmers' issues are tackled and improved."

Praising the current government, Singh said that farmers don't have to stand in queues for urea or fertilizers since their government came to power.

On trigger-happy Uttar Pradesh cops

Regarding the police encounters that have taken place in Uttar Pradesh recently and the killing of the Apple executive by the police, Singh stated that its unfortunate but the state is taking the right action.

He also said that the government is working on police modernisation. "We are working on police modernisation but this can’t be a Centre-only initiative. The state government will also have to contribute," he said.

With regard to the border security, Singh said that a comprehensive integrated border management system has been launched. "Our border security is not foolproof but we have launched pilot projects to improve security. We are working towards a unified command and control centre," he said.

On mob lynchings

Singh also spoke about mob lynchings in the country. The Union home minister said that tackling mob lynchings is a state subject. "The Central government can only issue advisories to states, tell them what to do," he said.

On Rahul Gandhi's comments against BJP

Singh hit back at Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s comments saying that BJP government is strengthening institutions as that is an important aspect for democracy. "Rahul Gandhi's allegation that BJP is taking over institutions is baseless. He should have given at least one example of where this has happened. We have always maintained the dignity of every institution in the country," the Union home minister said.

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Updated Date: Oct 05, 2018 14:28:00 IST

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