New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah responded on Saturday night to former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik’s damaging allegations against his government by asking why Malik’s conscience had awakened only after his term as governor ended.
Shah’s charge that Malik had remained silent “while in power” was not contested by India Today TV anchor Sudhir Choudhary even though Malik’s critical comments against the Modi government on Pulwama and other topics like the farm laws were covered widely by the media – including in an “exclusive” to the channel Choudhary works for.
So what do facts in the public domain indicate about the veracity of Amit Shah’s claim?
Contrary to Shah’s assertion that Malik had been silent while in office, he targeted the BJP government even as he was a governor on at least five separate occasions.
1. February 15, 2019
As early as a day after the terrorist attack at Pulwama where 40 CRPF troops were killed, Malik had told the Indian Express in an interview that the attack was partly the result of an intelligence failure, especially due to the fact that security forces could not detect the loading and movement of the explosive-laden vehicle. “We cannot accept that (intelligence failure). We could not detect or check the vehicle full of explosives moving on the highway. We must accept that we are at fault also,” he had said.
The February 26, 2019 Balakot airstrike by the Indian Air Force and the subsequent media coverage of it took the edge off questions about the security lapses that led to the death of the CRPF jawans as Modi chose to wrap himself in the flag. He also controversially, at a meeting in Latur, asked for votes from “first-time voters” in the name of the Pulwama dead and the Balakot attack.
A few months after J&K’s status was changed, Malik was shifted to Goa as governor in November 2019. In August 2020, he was moved to Meghalaya as governor.
2. October 22, 2021
The corruption allegations he reiterated in his interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, these too he made earlier – while he was Governor of Meghalaya in October 2021. Malik had said at the time that he was offered Rs 300 crore in bribes to clear two files including one related to an RSS leader.
He made this claim in a public speech at Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, and his remarks were widely reported, including by PTI.
It was after this that the CBI registered two cases in the matter and conducted searches at 14 locations in April 2022. The agency has booked Anil Ambani’s Reliance General Insurance Company (RGIC) and officials of Chenab Valley Power Projects Pvt Ltd (CVPPPL) among others in the two cases.
3. October 26, 2021
In an interview to Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today TV on October 26, 2021, Malik spoke of how there was corruption in every matter the BJP-led government in Goa had handled and added that he told the PM about this but nothing was done. Instead, he said, I was removed as governor.
In the same interview, he repeated the allegations about corruption in Kashmir that he had made four days earlier in Jhunjhunu.
4. January 2, 2022
In January 2022, Satyapal Malik told a gathering in Dadri, Haryana that Prime Minister Narendra Modi came across as “arrogant” when he met him to discuss the farmers’ stir and that he ended up having an argument with the latter:
“He was very arrogant. When I told him that 500 of our own farmers had died, and even when a dog dies you send a condolence letter, he asked, ‘Did they die for me?’” Malik said. “I told him yes, since you are the king. Anyway, I ended up having a fight with him. He told me to meet Amit Shah and so I did.”
“मैं जब किसानों के मामले में प्रधानमंत्री जी से मिलने गया तो मेरी पांच मिनट में लड़ाई हो गई उनसे। वो बहुत घमंड में थे। जब मैंने उनसे कहा कि हमारे 500 लोग मर गए तो उसने कहा कि मेरे लिए मरे हैं?”
~सत्यपाल मलिक, राज्यपाल, मेघालय pic.twitter.com/JpNaivdlXd
— Avadhesh Akodia (@avadheshjpr) January 3, 2022
He said this as Meghalaya governor.
5. September 15, 2022
Again, he told The Wire in an interview aired on September 15, 2022, as Meghalaya governor, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a megalomaniac, “jo ek bimari hai”. He said Amit Shah “is a practical man but Modi doesn’t give him a free hand” He also spoke on the centralised nature of the government, where Nitin Gadkari “enjoys huge goodwill across the country but neither he nor Rajnath Singh get any credit for what they do. All credit has to go to only Modi.”
On October 6, 2022, two days after he demitted office as governor, Malik was questioned by CBI in connection with the two Kashmir corruption cases.
Note: This story was edited at 11:45 pm on April 23, 2023 to include the details of Satya Pal Malik’s interview to India Today TV on October 26, 2021.