Azad hits out at communal forces

7 July 2008
The Hindu

Chennai: Addressing a special session of the Assembly convened for confidence vote, Mr. Azad, without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is spearheading the agitation in Jammu over the Amarnath land transfer issue, and the separatists in Kashmir, who are for “Independence,” said these forces had developed a vested interest in pursuing politics on the basis of religion. “I do not agree with that, I separate politics from religion,” he said, and asked all those people to shut their shops. Stating that Islam was not facing any danger, he made an oblique reference to hard-line separatist Syed Ali Geelani, who wears the Sherwani (long coat), and said: “Islam cannot be saved by putting on Sherwani. It is 1,400 years old religion and has strong basis.” Mr. Azad alleged that the separatists were driving innocent Kashmiri youths into “jehad.” Mr. Azad made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. Militants, who were killing innocent people, should not be forgiven. At the same time, security men indulging in rights violations could not go scot-free. The 59-year old Congress leader listed his achievements as Chief Minister since November 2, 2005. Mr. Azad said he did not believe in horse trading and that was why he made the anti-defection law more stringent. Referring to the violence in Jammu over the revocation of land allotment to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, he criticised the communal forces for flaring up tension. Mr. Azad said he came to the State with a mission to put it on the rails of development and prosperity and weed out corruption. “I was working here for 20 hours a day and did not even have time for my family. I succeeded in most of my programmes. I am satisfied with my work. I don’t care who will be the Chief Minister. I don’t care whether the government survives or falls ... I have shown the way.” He said human rights violations in the State had shown a drastic reduction in the last three years, and those guilty, including a senior superintendent of police, were punished for custodial deaths.