Post the release of Congress manifesto ahead of Lok Sabha 2019, Union Minister Arun Jaitley held a press brief drawing rebuttals to the issues addressed within.
Out of the several issues like education, sedition, healthcare, global warming, LGBTQIA+ issues that the manifesto involved, Jammu and Kashmir got its individual section entailing issues covering dialogue with people, deployment of forces and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act among the rest.
Here's a counter-argument that the Union Minister Arun Jaitley posed:
Engage in dialogue with people of Jammu and Kashmir to find an 'honourable solution' to their issues.
He said, "They say those who are not willing to speak to us till now because their argument is that they want to separate from the country, 'we will continuously engage in dialogue with them'. It means, the mistakes of 70 years that brought Jammu and Kashmir to this level, we are bringing in all the laws and establishing rule of law. In that place rule of insurgents and terrorists, if Congress wants to establish then this won't be acceptable to the country."
Review the deployment of Armed Forces, and the party plans to move more troops to the border to curb infiltration and furthermore reduce the presence of Army and CAPFs in the valley while entrusting more responsibility on the shoulders of the Jammu and Kashmir police.
Jaitley said, "These provisions have been made to help Maoists and Jihadis. Then they are saying, 'dilute the presence of Army' so stone-pelters come on the streets. So the terrorists, the Army kills every day, they get away and flee."
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in the state will be reviewed and 'suitable' changes will be made to balance the requirement of security and 'protection of Human Rights'
Giving an elaborate explanation over this, Arun Jaitley made the following arguments:
"This country has two laws, the first is the 'Disturbed Area Act', this is where there is internal subversion that is announced to be a disturbed area, on those areas, Armed Forces of the Union, which includes Army, Air Force, CRPF, BSF, CISF, Assam Rifles and all Central forces are included. Now wherever there is insurgency and terrorism, and there are disturbed areas and to impose a Criminal Act against Armed Forces or Armed personnel, then they have to take government sanctions. It is an essentially a sanctioning law. Now they say that if the accusation if of torture or an act of molestation or theft then the sanctions will not happen."
"I have been associated with this act for a while and when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister who advocated to dilute the law, then the entire Congress government was opposing it. It was opposed because none of the terrorists, their supporters or family members does not say the police caught the terrorist or killed the terrorist if anybody from the Armed Forces catches the terrorist, then it's not a crime."
"But they'll say they came to our houses and mistreated the women, came home and took our things or torture the terrorists. As soon as they are charged with this crime, there would be cases against Army personnel, without sanctions and these kinds of circumstances are in the valley especially. There a judge is fighting for elections, whose poll plank is that 'I had given a decision that the temporary Provision of Article 370 is permanent'
"This is the situation, and hence the government of India in the Congress government and NDA government had systematically said that whatever complaints come in, there would be a robust mechanism whatever is right, then the Armed personnel would be charged. The robust mechanism that was made during the UPA government is still on-going, and in that, until now 1799 complaints have come in against Army and paramilitary personnel and in that, almost all of them are in process and there have been proceedings against 68 of them. There has been a systematic process, but you are encouraging terrorists to go against a person who is putting his life on the threat. Now they are saying in their manifesto that give the terrorists the opportunity to run court cases against Armed personnel."
"Those people who lay down their lives for the country, you want them to be prosecuted at the behest of terrorists or their friend? Ingratitude is the biggest sin that any political party to commit."
Furthermore, Arun Jaitley argued that in the 'secularism' of Congress there is no space for Kashmiri Pandits who bore the brunt of ethnic cleansing in the valley.
He said, "They wrote a chapter on Jammu and Kashmir, but there is no mention of Kashmiri Pandits in that section. Informally they could've written that the failure of independent India is that there was ethnic cleansing of one entire community from the valley. In their secularism, there are no tears for the Kashmiri Pandits."
Congress in their Jammu and Kashmir section maintained their stand on Article 370 of the Constitution, ascertaining that 'nothing will be done or allowed to change the Constitutional position', an act the top leadership of BJP has stated, will be abrogated.