SRINAGAR: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that there was no issue with the forces conducting anti-militancy operations in Kashmir but killing innocents in the name of militancy was totally unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.
Addressing a gathering of Congress leaders and workers in the Devsar area of the southern district of Kulgam, Azad said that no one was against the forces for killing militants. “But killing innocents in the name of militants is totally unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” the senior Congress leader thundered from the stage.
Azad said that he wasn’t against the army and the fact is that the “army was doing a great job on the anti-militancy front.” The Congress big-wig, however, said that forces must take utmost precautions while carrying out anti-militancy operations on civilians and ensure that “not a single civilian gets a scratch let alone killing civilians.”
About the Hyderpora encounter, Azad said that when he was the Chief Minister of J&K, people wouldn’t mourn the death of a militant beyond a particular area. “When a civilian is killed, people know the truth and hit the streets in protest,” he said. Later, talking to reporters on the sidelines of the rally, Azad said that Congress demands judicial inquiry into the Hyderpora encounter by a High Court Judge.
“LG Manoj Sinha has ordered a magisterial probe. But that is at the lowest level…,” he said. Azad said that he and his party are committed to fighting for the restoration of Statehood and pre-August 5, 2019 position in J&K. “We won’t rest as this remains our priority and all our leaders will fight for it,” he said.
The Congress stalwart usually UTs are upgraded to States for development, but in J&K reverse is the case. “In our case, a State was downgraded to UT. It is like demoting DGP post to thanedar, CM to MLA and chief secretary to Patwari. No wise man can do this,” he said.
On the elections, Azad said that elections are impossible inJ&K till April given the onset of winter. “We have been demanding restoration of statehood first and then delimitation, but the Government of India thinks otherwise. We have already told the Centre to finish the delimitation process by February end and then hold elections in J&K in April when the weather remains good,” he said.
To a query whether he would contest as the Congress party’s chief ministerial candidate in J&K, Azad said that “this was a non-issue at this stage.” “Let elections happen, and MLAs would decide who should become CM,” he said. The Congress leader urged all the political leaders not to resort to mudslinging at each other and instead visit the militancy infested districts of J&K so that people could feel the situation was gradually heading towards elections—(KNO)