Two days after senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir under the BJP-PDP government resulted in deaths of more civilians than militants, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back at the Congress, saying people supporting terrorism were the happiest to hear it. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Prasad asked, "Has the Congress party fallen to this level? Can there be anything more shameful? It is not an off-the-cuff remark. It is a well thought-out ideology."
Calling Azad's comments "embarrassing, unfortunate and irresponsible", Prasad said, "What is happening? Is this how you will break the spirit of the Indian Army? His comments seeks to break the morale of the forces."
On Wednesday, Azad had said, "They take action against four terrorists and also kill 20 civilians. Their action is more against civilians than terrorists. For instance, they killed 13 civilians in Pulwama and just one terrorist."
"No civilians were killed during the UPA government," Azad had said in an interview.
Azad had also said that 'Operation All-Out', which was a joint offensive launched by the security forces in 2017 to flush out militants and terrorists from Kashmir, was just another name for a "full-fledged" massacre.
Responding with a rejoinder, Prasad implied that more militants were killed under the Narendra Modi government. "In Jammu and Kashmir, 72 terrorists were killed in 2012, 67 in 2013. In June 2014, we came to power. 110 were killed in 2014, 108 in 2015, 150 in 2016, 217 in 2017 and 75 have been killed till May 2018. So Ghulam Nabi Azad, you can see the difference between your government and our government," he told reporters.
Referring to army chief Bipin Rawat and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to the family of army soldier Aurangzeb in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Wednesday, Prasad asked, "If (they) went to pay their respects to the dead soldier and his family, is that drama?"
He also added that Pakistan would be happiest with the Congress leader's comments. Speaking of human rights, the Union law minister also asked, "Aurangzeb didn't have any human rights? Shujaat Bhukari had no human rights? There should be a discussion on this too."
He equated Azad's comments to those made by Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, who had said Kashmiris' "first choice is independence". "Azad and Soz are not exceptions. Another Pakistan proxy finds his rightful place in the Congress party," Prasad said.
"Kashmiris do not want to merge with Pakistan... their first choice is independence," senior Congress leader and Union minister in the UPA-I government Saifuddin Soz has argued in his forthcoming book Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle, which is scheduled to release next week.
Following Azad's comments, Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba issued a statement backing the Congress leader's comments. "We have been of the same opinion as of the expressions of Ghulam Nabi Azad and others since the beginning. India is up to bringing back the era of Jagmohan by imposing Governor's Rule, so as to sabotage the infrastructure and commit massacre of innocents. It is a move to further intensify the mass killings," DNA quoted LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi as saying.
Condemning Azad's remarks, Prasad said India will not tolerate it. "The country will not tolerate it. Even Lashkar-e-Taiba is backing Ghulam Nabi Azad's comments. We ask Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, what do they have to say about it? Are they planning to investigate it?" he said.
Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 14:14 PM