The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today defended Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s warning to locals hampering counter-militancy operations in Kashmir and accused the Congress of speaking in the voice of separatists.
Clarifying his party’s stand on this issue, Union minister Jitendra Singh alleged that the Congress was politicising the Indian Army for "lowly political gains".
JItendra Singh attacked Congress leaders for criticising General Rawat's statement as he claimed that what the Army Chief said was not a warning but a concern expressed by him over civilians' safety.
Addressing a press conference, he asked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to make his stand clear on the comments of his party colleagues.
"It is appalling and a matter of concern, worry that the Congress is falling to this temptation of politicising the Army chief's statement ... This party can go to any extent for political benefits. It is speaking the voice of separatists for lowly political gains," he said.
Citing statements of Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sandeep Diskhit, Singh said these were quite unbecoming of a national party.
Defending General Rawat, the Union minister said, "What the Army chief has said is not a warning but an expression of concern. He is worried that innocent people may be hit and become collateral damage (in anti-terrorist operation). He is saying that don't come in the line of fire," Singh said.
He also targeted the National Conference, the main opposition party in Kashmir, saying once out of power it adopted the jargon of separatist parties, something the Congress was also doing.
On Thursday, NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu dubbed the statement of the Army Chief as "tragic" and said the government, instead, should approach and engage with the youth of the militancy-hit Valley.
(With IANS inputs)