In a scathing criticism of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday accused the Centre of spreading false information for "political benefits" in reference to tensions with Pakistan and the increasing crimes against minorities in India.
At an event organised by the NCP's minority cell in Mumbai, Pawar launched a veiled attack on the saffron party and said that "some people" in India were saying that Pakistanis were unhappy, but that "these things are being said only for political gains without understanding the actual situation in Pakistan."
"I have visited Pakistan and received their hospitality. Pakistanis have relatives in India and they want to meet them and vice versa. But there are visa issues. People here say that those in Pakistan are facing injustice and are unhappy, these things are being said only for political gains without understanding the actual situation in Pakistan. Those in power here are spreading false things for political benefits," he said.
The former defence minister also said that common people in Pakistan do not want war with India. "We had taken the Indian cricket team to Pakistan (when he headed the Board of Control for Cricket in India), where it was loved the most. But a different kind of atmosphere has evolved in our country today," he said.
Pawar also said that there was rising intolerance against minorities and ideologies by a "section of the majority" which was trying to create an imbalance in society. He added that nobody can test the loyalty of a citizen, based on his social or cultural status.
"Some powers are trying to spread an ideology that you can survive in this country only if you follow a particular faith. For you to be an Indian, you don't have to prove all of this. Some people have an issue saying certain things and are targeting minorities. A section of the majority is trying to create an imbalance by influencing and prioritizing a certain section of the society," Pawar said.
Speaking about the spate of mob-lynchings across the country in the last few years, Pawar said that communal harmony is a must for development but the present rulers of the country "did not think so".
"Certain sections of society are being targeted. But action is not being taken against perpetrators," he alleged. He asked the gathering whether the term "mob lynching" was ever heard in the past. "But we get to hear this word often now. There is a need to come together against such incidents," he added.
The NCP chief also addressed the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which gave the now-Union Territory a degree of autonomy. The Centre's decision to scrap the special status on 5 August has created a tense situation in the already restive region, parts of which are still reeling under a clampdown on communications and movement.
Pawar reiterated his view that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should have been taken into confidence before the abrogation of Article 370. "There was a commission set up and we were of the view that if you want to do something then you have to take the people of Kashmir into confidence before taking such a decision. Although everything went fine, the people should have been taken into confidence. The only benefit now is that people can buy land there and before they were not able to," he said.
He also dared the central government to abrogate Article 371 of the Constitution, which has special provisions for the northeastern states like it did in the case of Jammu and Kashmir. "Now what about Article 371? Why are you not lifting Article 371 from North East states? Lift that, we will support you and let people buy land there too... Why only Kashmir? They are trying to only do things against minorities and trying to spread terror among minorities," he said.
"As a party, we do not differentiate between people on the basis of their caste and we support equality and all forces trying to create disharmony should not be supported. Anybody supporting mob lynching should not be supported. Such people are cowards and they need to be taught a lesson," he added.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 15, 2019 12:54:21 IST