Listen to this article:
New Delhi: Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday attacked the Narendra Modi government of not being serious about welfare, return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and only using the recently released Hindi movie, The Kashmir Files, for playing politics in north India.
Opposition members used the discussion on the Jammu and Kashmir budget as an opportunity to charge that the BJP was using the film as a tool to propagate its divisive agenda.
At the very start of the debate, Congress MP Vivek Tankha referred to how with the state of Jammu and Kashmir being turned into a union territory, there was no longer a legislature there to take up issues of local interest and as such the Budget was being taken up in the Rajya Sabha. He demanded that attempts for “restoration of democracy” should be made for J&K.
Tankha questioned the seriousness of the government to help the lot of Kashmiri Pandits. “I want to know how many Kashmiri Pandits returned to Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370,” he asked, and went on to declare that he would bring a Private Member’s Bill on the “rehabilitation of Pandits”.
Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal too accused the Centre of only playing politics in the name of Kashmiri Pandits. He asked how many from the community have been rehabilitation over the last seven years. Referring to The Kashmir Files, Yadav said people are forgetting that “the speeches of BJP leaders are more dangerous and effective”.
The SP leader also raised the issue of the delimitation proposal for J&K being in favour of Jammu despite the population of Kashmir being more.
Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha said he has not seen any concern in the government about how the level of alienation in Kashmir has “aggravated and increased”. As for the movie, The Kashmir Files, he claimed that the government was using it to “play politics in north India”.
The RJD MP said while he has watched the movie, he would like to remind everyone that the country has “experienced many other wounds” such as the Partition, the massacre of the Sikhs inn 1984 and the Gujarat riots in 2002. As such, he said, merely remembering the atrocities against Kashmiri Pandits will not heal the wounds or do justice.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi too spoke about how little was being done for the community. She said they were “far from receiving justice”.
Pointing to how the government has not worked for them, she said, in a written reply to her the Minister of State for Home Affairs had stated that only 17% of homes meant for the return of Kashmiri Pandits had been constructed.
Nadimul Haque of the Trinamool Congress accused the Centre of reducing J&K to a “police state”. He charged that a large number of human rights violations had taken place there since 2019. Haque accused the government of only indulging in “narrative management” with regard to Kashmir.
On behalf of the government, Deputy Leader of the House Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused the Opposition of not debating the J&K Budget and only using the opportunity to “review” The Kashmir Files.
Naqvi accused “two political families” from the state of being at the root cause of the problems it faced. Denying any human rights violations, he said, rather the protection of human rights of the armed forces had improved.
BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said just the way bulldozers were used to bring down criminals in Uttar Pradesh, similarly a “vacuum cleaner” would be used to suck out the “extremists” from J&K.
Another BJP MP Anil Jain defended the movie saying it had shown the “truth” and that those who indulged in politics of appeasement had no right to question it.