New Delhi: Breaking his government’s silence on former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik’s explosive revelations, Union home minister Amit Shah avoided mentioning or responding to specifics but instead questioned why Malik had “remained silent” while he was in office.
He was speaking on a TV show by India Today before a live audience aired last night.
“Why are all these things recalled only after breaking away from us? Yeh aatma kyun us waqt jagruk nahi hoti hai jab satta mein baithe hue hon (Why does the conscience not stir when they are in office and with us)? Journalists and the public should ask this. If all this is true, why was he quiet, when he was the governor? But all this is not for public discussion. I want to tell people that the BJP govt has done nothing that needs to be to hidden. If someone for their own personal or selfish interests, after separating from us, says something, that should be weighed accordingly.”
Shah was in conversation with anchor Sudhir Chaudhary.
In fact, Malik had on many occasions – while being in the governor’s office – spoken with candour and made remarks on the functioning of the Modi government and its ways. In all, he served as governor of four states – Bihar, J&K, Goa and Meghalaya.
On being asked why Malik was summoned by the CBI shortly after his explosive interview, Shah was defensive and said, “Not like this – he was being called for the second or the third time, as far as I know. Not because of speaking against us. There is an investigation on. Some more evidence may have emerged, perhaps that is why.”
Media reports indicate that Malik has only been asked questions once, on October 6, in the old Kashmir case, two days after his demitting office as Meghalaya governor, which ended the immunity that he enjoyed while in the governor’s seat.
Chaudhary: Would you say he (Malik) is sitting in someone’s godi (lap)?
Shah: I don’t wish to use such words, but if you are not in power and are separate, the allegation must be weighed accordingly.
Chaudhary: You picked him for such a post, would you say he was a wrong choice? You all made a mistake?
Shah: He has been a senior BJP worker, he was working under Rajnath Singh. He was national vice president and active, since longer than my foray in national politics. Over time, people change, what can we do.
So far, there has been no response from Prime Minister Modi, Shah or their government to specific and substantive revelations by the then J&K governor.
On his part, Chaudhary did not mention Pulwama 2019 or ask Amit Shah about the specific – and damning – allegations made by Malik.
Here’s the full transcript (translated from Hindi) of what Malik said to Thapar on Pulwama:
KT: Okay, let’s then jump three months to February 2019 when Pulwama happened. Let’s talk about Pulwama in the sense that it was the first big thing after the dissolution of the assembly while you were governor. There were adverse intelligence reports right through January and I believe even till middle February and yet, despite those reports, a thousand CRPF soldiers travelled by a huge convoy. You were sitting governor at the time, how was it that this was permitted to happen? It was clearly asking for trouble.
SM: Let me tell you the facts. CRPF people asked for aircrafts to ferry their people because such a big convoy never goes by road.
KT: They asked you?
SM: Not me, the consultant. They asked the Home Ministry, Rajnath ji. They refused to give. Had the asked me, I would’ve given them an aircraft, no matter how. They only needed five aircraft, which wasn’t given to them.
KT: You’re saying an important thing, right now. They asked the Home Ministry for an aircraft, and the Home Ministry refused?
SM: Yes, and I told it to the Prime Minister in the evening that this has happened due to our fault. Had we given the aircraft, this wouldn’t have happened. To which he told me that I should keep quiet now.
KT: So the Prime Minister told you to keep quiet about all of your faults?
SM: I told him that it was our fault.
KT: And he asked you to keep quiet on the subject?
SM: I had also said it to someone, a channel or so, and then he told me to not say these things and let him talk.
KT: This is again very important. When you had told the Prime Minister that this has happened because of us, that they had asked for the aircraft and Home Ministry did not give them, and the Prime Minister asked you to keep quiet. He said don’t let people know we made a mistake.
SM: Doval also said this to me.
SM: Doval, Ajit Doval.
KT: He also told you to keep quiet?
SM: He has been my classmate so we can talk about anything to each other. He said Satyapal, don’t say this.
KT: So what you’re saying, is both the Prime Minister—
SM: I can share with you, that I realised that this entire onus is going to be put on Pakistan so it’s better to be quiet on the subject now.
KT: So this was in some way, a clever policy of the government that blame Pakistan—
KT: And we will get credit, and that will help our election.
KT: But you said two very important things that the prime minister knew that you had told him it was our fault?
SM: I distinctly remember. He was in Corbett National Park, getting his shooting done. There isn’t a phone there, so after getting out of there, he called me from a dhaba, Satyapal, what happened? I told him sir I am very unhappy that this happened solely due to our fault if we had given them an aircraft it wouldn’t have happened. He told me to keep quiet about it then.
KT: And Mr Doval said the same?
KT: In an interview to a YouTube channel [given to Prashant Tandon of DB Live], you said that the route was not sanitised, security was not—
SM: Of course it was not sanitised. The route has 8-10 link roads specifically in that area, not one of them was manned by someone to restrict access to people. Nothing was done.
KT: All link roads were unmanned?
KT: How many link roads?
SM: Around 8-10.
KT: 8-10 link roads were unmanned? This is a huge security lax.
SM: This also I told them. This was our lax. We were not in the loop, CRPF was planning everything.
KT: In you YouTube interview, you said that there was incompetence and carelessness. Whose?
SM: The Home Ministry’s and the CRPF.
KT: Both? And Home Ministry came under Rajnath Singh.
SM: Now whosoever was there, I don’t know.
KT: He was Rajnath Singh and that means the buck stops with Rajnath Singh who was home minister. He was the one to blame.
SM: If I was the home minister, I would have carried the blame.
KT: If you were home minister after this, would you have resigned?
KT: If you were home minister, after this, would you have resigned?
SM: Everyone has a separate behavioural system—
KT: Tell us yours.
SM: I would have left.
KT: You would have left? After Pulwama happened—
SM: It was a great, great tragedy in the life of the nation. Forty venerable soldiers were sacrificed due to sheer incompetence.
KT: You said another really important thing, 3-4 minutes back that you realised when the PM and Mr Doval asked you to keep quiet on the matter, that the blame would be shifted to Pakistan because they felt it would help their election. Was Pakistan, or Pakistani militants or Pakistani tanzeems actually responsible or did we make that up?
SM: The amount of explosives provided to that fellow could not be done internally. It was Pakistan, only, that arranged it. But the failure was on our part, mine too, that we could not locate that a car in that area was roaming around carrying so much explosive material.
KT: Around 300 kg? That is what the papers say.
SM: Yes, approximately, that entire car was full.
KT: And that car was roaming around on the roads of Kashmir?
SM: Specifically in that area.
KT: For how many days?
SM: I think it was 10-12 days at the very least.
KT: For 10-12 days a car loaded with RDX was roaming around the streets and villages of Kashmir and no one knew?
SM: No one knew. No one intercepted.
KT: Well this is a terrible intelligence failure as well?
KT: 100%. So we have a security lax, roads not being manned and then an intelligence lax as well. The incompetence is that of the Indian system.
KT: You’re saying yes.
SM: Yes, even I am responsible for that. I was the head of the state at that time.
KT: The whole Indian system failed?
SM: Yes everybody failed at that time.
KT: From the home minister down?
SM: Everybody failed.
KT: There were reports in the papers a few weeks or months afterwards that a senior police officer named Davinder Singh had some sort of a conspiratorial role to play. You have said that you knew him personally. Who is he and what was his role?
SM: Davinder Singh was a police officer who generally met me whenever I landed at the airport. He was very pleasant and very nice and I never knew that he had got some corruption somewhere.
KT: Did he have a role to play?
SM: In this he did not.
KT: So those stories that he had a role to play are wrong?
SM: No, no, he was not that sort of anti-national person.
KT: So those stories about Davinder Singh are wrong.
SM: Are wrong. Absolutely.
KT: Tell me something, Mr Malik, will we ever know the full truth of what happened at Pulwama?
SM: Yes the government will have everything.
KT: But the government did not tell the citizens of India.
SM: No, it’s not necessary. The government doesn’t tell us hundreds of things.
KT: And if they tell us they’ll be incriminating themselves because that’ll be their fault.
SM: Of course.
KT: So the government has good reason to be hiding this evidence.
SM: Government will have good reason to hide this and use this for something else.
KT: You said this before and you’re repeating it.
SM: I’m repeating it. Instead of going to the root cause of the matter, we shift the blame somewhere else.
KT: So you are saying that Mr Modi deliberately consciously used Pulwama as an election strategy?
SM: I cannot say it in the language that you have used.
KT: Well, then say it in your language.
SM: In my language, I can just say that instead of going to the root cause or the starting point of that matter, or maybe if we also went to the start and completely investigated every thing, we might have to change things for our own personal benefit.
KT: So you are saying that this was used for the benefit of Mr Modi? Are you smiling? Is this a yes?
SM: I cannot say yes or no in this matter.
KT: Neither yes nor no?
SM: I am not saying either yes or no.