BJP's hypocrisy

Kashmir Times. Dated: 5/16/2018 1:47:13 PM

Nirmal Singh-Army showdown on land construction raises many questions that need a fair investigation

Jammu and Kashmir state legislative assembly Speaker, Dr Nirmal Singh's tussle with the army over the construction on a piece of land adjacent to an ammunition depot in Nagrota betrays the hypocrisy of the BJP and unearths many a skeletons in the cupboards of their leaders. Singh has alleged harassment by the army, while army has maintained that the under-construction building is a "potential safety hazard" for the army's ammunition depot and "is violative of a notification issued by the Jammu district administration banning construction activity within 1000 yards of the boundary wall of the depot". But by giving it the angle of 'harassment by army' Nirmal Singh has churned up an entirely new debate which the Hindu right wing including BJP is the first to stamp down in the name of nationalism. The BJP which shouts hoarse at anybody criticizing the army has maintained cryptic silence over Singh's comments and that itself is a sign of hypocrisy. That is not all that there is to the matter. The construction is being carried out on the land bought by Singh in 2014 by using up funds of an apparently dubious company, Himgiri Infrastructure Development Pvt Limited, whose shareholders include Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and BJP lawmaker from Jammu Jugal Kishore. That the company owes Rs 29.31 crore to Jammu and Kashmir Bank and its account was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in December last year smacks of a deeper rot in the entire issue, according a report in a national daily. Himgiri was formed in September 2000 and got a 3 MW hydel power project in Chamba district in 2001 under BJP rule. It needs to be probed how this contract was obtained when the firm had no prior expertise in power projects and how much money has been siphoned of the name of this project through bank loans and other sources. The entire dealings right from the making of the company, its ability to procure bank loans without showing results and the sale deeds of lands in Nagrota adjacent to ammunition depot and elsewhere need to be brought under scanner.
The other aspect of the issue is related to security angle. The depot has been existing in the place for over five decades. If the construction on Singh's land is a violation of rule, it needs to be brought down. If not, it could be contested in court. While the army's right in taking ownership of state lands and private lands without adequate compensation or sign of vacating them cannot be treated as absolute, there can be no two yardsticks for the common masses and elitist politicians. The BJP has always tried to stonewall any discourse in the occupation of agricultural and other lands for security purposes and building infrastructure by the army by invoking its ultra-nationalistic rhetoric. The border areas are the worst hit where land is taken up for mining and fencing frequently or people are not allowed to go to their lands, reducing their agriculturally fertile lands barren and impacting villagers economically. The compensation paid is either a pittance or does not get disbursed. The party or any of its leaders have never tried to balance out the strategic needs with the individual needs of the people. Even in this particular area, residents have been demanding that the ammunition depot that deprives them of their right to use their lands as they will be shifted out. But far from the BJP even offering lip sympathy to those hit by the huge enterprise of the army have often branded those talking about such issues as 'anti-nationals'. The episode exposes the many chinks in the armour of the BJP leaders who are partners in the dubious firm and have curiously also bought up similar plots of land adjacent to the ammunition depot.



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