Narendra Modi opened space for militants, says Rahul Gandhi

Washington: Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “massively opening up” space for militants in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to an “increase in violence.”

Interacting with students at the University of California in Berkeley, Rahul Gandhi said that the decision by Modi to have a political tie-up with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a “strategic mistake.”

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“The PDP was the instrument that brought Kashmiri youngsters into the political process. And the day Narendra Modi made an alliance between the PDP and the BJP, it destroyed the PDP as an instrument that could bring youngsters into the political system. And the day he did that, he massively opened up space for terrorists in Kashmir and they came in. And you saw a massive increase in violence,” pointed out Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi further went on to add that the intelligence personnel in Jammu and Kashmir told him that a large number of members of the PDP have suddenly gone towards the militants.

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“When you take these strategic decisions to take a little bit of political advantage, you do tremendous damage to the country. Today the space in Jammu and Kashmir has been opened up, not only for the Pakistanis, but for other players in the region. And it is going to impose a massive, massive strategic cost on India,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi claimed that for nine years, he had worked behind the scene with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to improve the situation in Kashmir.

“The results were there for all to see as militancy was at an all-time low and tourism flourished in Kashmir,” he said.

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After the 2014 elections, the PDP and the BJP tied up an alliance to form a government in the state.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh hit out at Rahul Gandhi, saying national issues should not be politicised.

“National issues should not be politicised… We cannot forget about 1989 (when militancy in Kashmir started). What was the situation then? What was the situation 7-8 years ago? I don’t blame anybody,” Rajanth Singh said.

“Why has the situation never been peaceful (in Kashmir) since 1947? I don’t want blame anybody,” the home minister said.

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On the demand for elections to panchayats and local bodies, Singh said polls should take place.

He said he had talked to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in this regard.