February 19, 2020
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Lok Sabha Debate

'Listen To Our Heartbeat'

'We want to find a solution within India, not within Pakistan or China or America.... To win the hearts and minds of the people, for God’s sake open your hearts, open your brains and accommodate people’s views'

'Listen To Our Heartbeat'

[The minister of new and renewable energy made an impassioned speech in Lok Sabha today. For the original speech and the rest of the debate, please click here]

I would like to put some things straight to my friends from the Opposition as well as people on my side. Kashmir is not a simple problem. Do not make it look simple. In this very House, many of your must have been Members of this House, a Bill has been passed.

[He switched to Hindi/Urdu on Sharad Yadav's suggestion — hurried and rough translation]

It is the same Parliament where a resolution was passed that the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir which belonged to Maharaja Hari Singh, a part of which is with Pakistan — a part of which has been given away by it to China — which they call the Azad Jammu & Kashmir, which we call [Pakistan] Occupied Kashmir — and Northern Areas which include Skardu, Gilgit, Hunja and Nagar — belongs to India. But today I have not heard even one person talk about that part. What is happening there? How is it being oppressed? No body knows. Not even the journalists ever write about it. It is true.

A whole lot is said. But remember, lots of misunderstandings are created. Jammu and Kashmir did not become a part of this country by force — by your guns or by your airforce — but it became a part of this country due to the policies of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and those leaders who fought alongside Sheikh Abdullah for the freedom of India. It became a part of this big India because of those policies. It not only became a part of, but also stood like a rock with, India through each of the wars — and don't forget, the last war was Kargil. It has steadfastly stayed with India. It has not moved. But, alas, whenever we share what we have in our hearts, you either do not recognise us or don't understand us. Nor is there a machine which can reveal that our heart only has India written on every side. But it is not visible to you. Minor, trivial matters seem to come in the way.

Today even a child there demands azadi. Why does he so demand? Do you ever ask him what the purpose of this azadi is? What is this azadi? Can Jammu & Kashmir remain azad —independent? China is leaping from one direction — it still tries stealthily to infiltrate from our Ladakh region. The other side has Pakistan, which, on one hand, is trying to deal with the floods, but, on the other, is still trying to send in terrorists. Look at the situation— can Kashmir remain independent among these three countries which are equipped with nuclear weapons? Are we not seeing the situation in Afghanistan? Are we not looking at Al Qaeda and Taliban? Would the same not be the situation in Kashmir one day?

I still remember when I went to Kabul with the then Vice President Sharma for Badshah Khan's burial in Jalalabad. And when I went by car from Jalalabad to get his body from Khyber in Pakistan, I could not see one standing bridge or house. Those who ask for azadi, do they see this? When you get off from the aeroplane, you see bungalows — do you see any kachha house? May God bless us so that we are not reduced to the same situation as Afghanistan today. So I tell those facing me [NDA] to try and understand what is in our hearts. When I brought the proposal for autonomy, I tried to bring the hearts together. 

I want to remind you that we were only asking for two things. We said we do not have two things. We said we are not able to prepare our children for IAS. We needed to build institutions so that our children could get the necessary facilities to join the IAS.  So we asked that 50 per cent IAS officers should be promoted from the state cadre and 50 per cent should be directly recruited. At that time, Mr Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, Mr V.P. Singh was finance minister and Dr Manmohan Singh was the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission. When I again assumed power in 1986, we had a meeting. When we raised our demand again, Mr Rajiv Gandhi agreed and said it was absolutely fine, it should be granted. I don't know whether Dr Manmohan Singh would remember, but he had said that Mr V.P. Singh, the finance minister, was not agreeable. We said that Jammu and Kashmir should also be provided 90 per cent grants and 10 per cent loan like other special category states and not in the ratio of 70:30, but they said Mr V.P. Singh did not agree. But when guns and grenades started in 1990s, and Pak-based terrorism started, these demands were accepted — we got 90:10, we even got 50:50...

When the autonomy proposals were presented to the NDA, I was in Bangalore. Prime Minister Vajpayee called me down. It was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's anniversary and you [addressing BJP/NDA] had to go to Kolkata. You decided then in the Cabinet that it will not be accepted, even when some of the cabinet ministers had said that they at least wanted to read the proposal so that they could decide after perusing it. But then they [BJP] had decided that they wished to remove Article 370, that they do not wish to rule our hearts, but want to rule the land instead. If you wish to rule the hearts, you have to listen to our heartbeat — India will be one when you consider our heartbeat to be India's heartbeat. If you did not listen to the heartbeat of the Northeast, you would not have been able to keep India. If you only listen to the heartbeat of Delhi, and not of other states, India would not be strong. So I came and folded my hands in front of the then Prime Minister and asked him if he had read the autonomy proposals. He said he had not. I asked how then had he decided. I requested him to read the proposals and point out anything which weakened India, and that we would be willing to listen. We have not shut the doors. This is not the Quran whose verses can not be changed. We have made it, we can change it. But please try to explain to us where we are wrong. But instead of doing that, they outright rejected it, threw away the proposals. What izzat — honourwas left thereafter? We are sitting under your rule, and this is the way you treat us!

Today, the question is that we have to win the hearts. Arguments will not do. You cannot win the heart of that child with your arguments. Those who have given their lives do not ask for money as a compensation for their lives. They want justice. Will you not give us a chance to do justice? Can we not talk? Do you remember that you gave a list of 20 people to Pakistan and said the talks won't resume till Pakistan hands over those 20 to India? Have you forgotten the day when you called General Musharraf for talks here when the list of 20 people is still there?

So why did we call him to India? Because there is no other way. We have to solve the issues between us only through talks. I remember what your Prime Minister said on Pakistan border: that we can change our friends but not our neighbours. Either we can live with love, or weaken our progress by living in hate — and your weakness will be further weakened. So I plead with folded hands, try and listen to our heartbeat. We do not want to secede from India. Nobody wants to secede from India. People who want to secede from India do not know the situation on the other side. 

[Switches to English]

They think everything is green on the other side till they land. I would like to correct my people here, there is a lot of mis-information, and a lot of things have been said wrong. I would like to request all of you to try to understand that we want to find a solution within India, not within Pakistan or China or America. So, if we want to find a solution, let us sit down rather than have an obstruction that Article 370 will go and we will have a better India. You will never have a better India unless you win hearts and minds of people. To win the hearts and minds of the people, for God’s sake open your hearts, open your brains and accommodate people’s views.

Sir, I will speak to Sardar Ajnala in Punjabi. He has said that we will not get autonomy. Therefore, we should forgo autonomy. Let me tell you, Sir, without autonomy, you too will not get what you want.

What I feel, one day India will have to have a true federal structure. A true federal structure will mean that every State will have its power and Centre will have its power. If a State is weak the Centre will never be powerful. If you want to make Centre powerful then the States must be made powerful because they are the arms, legs and the body of India and unless the body of India is strong the mind can never be strong. Therefore, my request to all of you is that if we have to get on, let us make a prosperous India where people live together, not in hatred.

I have no hatred for Hindus. Why? It is because I see God in various forms. To me, if you believe in God as Rama, Krishna, Mahesh, Vishnu or Brahma, the creator, let me tell you as far as a Muslim is concerned, it is one vision. It is the same power except the view you see is different. You see him in different forms but the power is the same. I see him as Allah. The power is the same. To you I say, let us not build animosity on religion for your religion is welcome to you and my religion is welcome to me. That is what makes India great. That is what makes India strong because we follow so many different religions yet are with one body and one soul and that soul is India and that soul will remain India so long as we remember that we have to work for the betterment of the people. That is why, we are here. We are here for the success of the people and the success of our nation depends ..if we work together.

Therefore, to Shri Murli Manohar Joshi, Shrimati Sushma Swaraj and to all of you I would say, let us sit together, let us find out a way forward where we can win the hearts and minds of these young people rather than using bullets and firing on right sights. That is the only way we can do it.

I would request the Home Minister to do something in this regard. I would request Shrimati Gandhi to bring all of us together and let us find a way forward in solving the problem of Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, when our Prime Minister goes across the border or their Prime Minister comes here, it is made abundantly clear to them that not only is ‘this’ Jammu and Kashmir ours, ‘that’ Jammu and Kashmir is also ours. We forget this. We do not ever mention this as if we have given that to them. The time has come when we must tell them with one voice – enough is enough. We are not going to take it sitting down. That country belongs to us and it will remain with us. Let us start thinking of that. To the media, I would say that my earnest request to you is that please think of India. Please write for India because I know in my own State how the media puts the things in such a manner that it creates hatred.

[Speaks in Urdu/Hindi]

If you see those images that come out in Urdu newspapers there, the heart gets overwhelmed, wells up with tears — tears of blood — as to what they write and what they do. You must have friends there. I plead with folded hands, please tell them not to spread hatred...

[Back to English]

My best request is that we are not only Kashmir but it is Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, POK and Northern Territory, that is India.

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