Not appropriate to talk through media: Nirmala Sitaraman on confronting Mehbooba Mufti
Embroiled in a major controversy over filing of First Information Report (FIR) by J&K police against an Army officer allegedly involved in firing incident on stone pelters in Shopian district of South Kashmir Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Monday broke her silence claiming “it may not be through the media that I will have to talk what conversations happened, how did it turn out to be and so on”.
Instead of talking straight the Defence Minister said we (State Govt and the Government of India) will have to work together to make sure that the army is taken care of because they are fighting a very very severe struggle.
Sitharaman tried to play down the conversation she had with the Chief Minister (CM) immediately after two youth were killed in firing on January 27 in Ganawpora area of Shopian.
Highly placed official sources claimed Defence Minister had two sets of communications with the state Chief Minister on January 27.
In the first communication J&K, CM had only shared her anguish over the firing incident. And after some time when Defence Minister sought a complete report from the Army chief, she called back the Chief Minister and explained her about the sequence of events preceding firing on the group of stone pelters. Even during these talks the J&K Chief Minister never sought permission to register an FIR against the accused.
Defence Minister, who is already facing the political heat in the matter, chose to react in this fashion when she was asked to clarify whether J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had sought her permission to lodge an FIR against a serving army officer on duty and that too when provisions of Armed Forces Special Powers Act are in vogue across the state.
Instead of talking straight the Defence Minister said we (State Govt and the Government of India) will have to work together to make sure that the army is taken care of because they are fighting a very very severe struggle.They are working under severe duress. All of us are conscious of it. I would not at this stage say more than this”.
Though media persons kept posing the same question in different ways she played smart and managed to dodge the tough ones on the same topic.
Earlier, when she was asked to comment whether morale of the armed forces was going down after an FIR was filed against their senior officer, Sitharaman commented: “We stand by our proud soldiers and Army and if in the call of duty they have performed something, it’ll have to be contextualised”.
Karamveer Singh, father of Major Aditya has said his son, a Major in 10 Garhwal Rifles, was “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy that was on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA and was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.
Karamveer Singh has said in his plea that his son’s intention was to save Army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted “only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity”.
The unruly behavior of the “unlawful assembly” escalated and they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were in the process of lynching him when warning shots were fired to disperse the violent mob and protect public property, the plea has said.
Singh has also referred to last year’s incident of a mob lynching of a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mohd Ayub Pandith to apprise the top court about the situation in the state and the condition in which Army officials were working to control violent mobs in Kashmir.
Referring to the Supreme Court giving huge relief to Major Aditya of the 10 Garhwal Rifles and other Army officers in the matter, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Ministry of Defence may also have to respond to the Supreme Court, and they shall do so”.
Both the Central and J&K state governments have been given two weeks time to respond to the petition filed by Major Aditya’s father, Lt Col Karamveer Singh, seeking to quash the FIR filed in the case by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
At the time the FIR was filed, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said in the state assembly that the action had been taken following her consultations with the Defence Minister.
On the other hand sympathisers of the Defence Minister have been claiming that J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been deliberately dragging her into the controversy because she can’t afford to face local residents in the area where youth were killed in firing incidents by Army jawans.