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Kashmir minister says 'pelters should be treated with bullets': BJP's Ram Madhav goes into damage control mode

Jammu: BJP's pointsman for Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, on Friday met with senior leader of ally PDP Haseeb Drabu in Jammu amid growing tension between the coalition partners, especially after certain controversial remarks by a BJP minister in the state.

Madhav also met the BJP minister Chander Prakash Ganga, who later expressed regret for his recent comment "traitors and stone-pelters should be treated with bullets".

The BJP's National General Secretary, who is visiting the state against the backdrop of deteriorating security situation in the Kashmir valley, also met Governor N N Vohra. Madhav and Avinash Rai Khanna, the BJP's national vice-president, held a meeting with PDP leader and Minister Haseeb Drabu for over one-and-a-half hours at the BJP headquarters. Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, the BJP's state chief Sat Sharma and party's organisation general secretary Ashok Kaul also attended the meeting.

Union Minister Ram Madhav. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

Union Minister Ram Madhav. Image courtesy: CNN-News18

Later, state police chief SP Vaid also joined the meeting at the BJP headquarters. "We held a meeting to discuss and review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir," Khanna told reporters. Sharma maintained that Madhav was visiting Jammu in connection with the forthcoming two-day visit of party chief Amit Shah here from 29 April.

The meeting assumes significance in view of the growing tension between the coalition partners over several issues, particularly the remarks made by some BJP leaders against stone-pelters of Kashmir. Ganga's recent remarks drew the ire of the PDP, which said there was a "conspiracy" to keep trouble brewing in the Valley which has been witnessing repeated clashes over the last several days.

"Such detestable remarks not only reflect the nauseous mentality of some extremist politicians in the state, but also expose the larger design of certain elements to provoke fresh trouble in Kashmir so that Kashmiris are pushed into perpetual educational and economic dis-empowerment," senior PDP leader Peerzada Mansoor said in a statement on Friday.

Ganga said he regretted his remarks, which he claimed were being "misinterpreted and misrepresented". "I deeply regret my remarks,” he said in a televised statement while making a fervent appeal to everyone to maintain peace and harmony in the state.

PDP sources said that apart from Ganga's remarks, the party was also unhappy with Madhav's comments, where the minister complimented an Army officer for tying the man to the bonnet of a jeep to escape stone-pelting in a Kashmir village.

Taking strong exception to Madhav's remark, PDP leader and Minister Mohd Altaf Bukhari said the comment "seems to be a move aimed at legitimising a crime that is internationally-abhorred under covenants of human rights".

"One fails to understand against whom Madhav has declared war! Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who despite all odds caste their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or is it a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country,” Bukhari questioned.

The PDP is also alleging “betrayal” by the BJP in the legislative council elections, in which an associate member of the PDP in the Assembly voted in favour of the BJP candidate on assurance of a post. "Our coalition partner did not obey the coalition dharma," a PDP source said.

Not taking this lightly, the Mehbooba Mufti-led government sacked the Zanskar MLA Mohammad Baqir Rizvi from the post of Vice Chairman of the States Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board and withdrew the 'Minister of State' from him.

Reflecting the PDP's unhappiness, Yasri Reshi, an elected MLC of the party, did not attend the oath-taking ceremony of the MLCs on Thursday. In his meeting with the Governor, Madhav discussed the initiatives for bringing peace and normalcy in Kashmir.

"Madhav met the Governor and discussed security-related issues with him and the initiatives under consideration for hastening the developmental process and promoting peace and normalcy," a Raj Bhawan spokesman said.

"We are here to discuss arrangements for the forthcoming visit of Amit Shah from April 29,” BJP’s Khanna said. BJP MLA Vibodh Gupta said Shah had chosen to start an all-India tour with Jammu and Kashmir. “It is an honour for us,” he added.

Updated Date: Apr 22, 2017 10:14 AM

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