NEW DELHI -- In one sweeping remark, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has betrayed the ignorance with which his party approaches the governance of Kashmir Valley, the Muslim-dominated part of Jammu and Kashmir State.
"Youths in Kashmir earlier joined ISIS. They have now started joining the IAS (Indian Administrative Service). The second-ranker in this year's civil services examination is a Kashmiri," Naqvi, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, said at a public meeting in Noida on Sunday, while elaborating on the achievements of the Modi government over the past two years.
Following the State Assembly Election in November, 2014, the Peoples Democratic Party and BJP forged an alliance to form the government, marking the first time the Hindu nationalist party came to power in conflict-ridden Jammu and Kashmir State, which has a Muslim majority even though Jammu has more Hindu inhabitants.
Unwittingly perhaps, Naqvi intoned the prejudice and ill-feelings which many people harbor against Kashmiri Muslims. This mindset is deeply hurtful and frustrating for young Kashmiris who try to fashion the best lives for themselves even as a low-intensity conflict plagues the Valley.
Naqvi's first sentence suggests that Kashmiri men are lining up in droves to join the Islamic State. This is hardly the case.
Out of the 30,000 foreign fighters estimated to have joined the Islamic State, there are around 25 Indians, which includes men of Indian origin. India is one of the lowest contributors to the ranks of foreign fighters.
So far, The Times of India reported, not a single case has been filed against a Kashmiri for joining IS.
While several countries dole out harsh punishments for those who try to join IS, India does not have a - one punishment fits all approach - and cases of attempts to join the terrorist group or return are decided on a case-to-case basis.
On Friday, the National Investigative Agency filed its first charge-sheet against Naser Packeer, a 23-year-old from Tamil Nadu, for allegedly conspiring to commits acts of terror and recruiting others to join ISIS. On Saturday, the NIA also charged Mohammed Sirajuddin, a 33-year-old from Karnataka, for trying to recruit for IS.
Naqvi also suggests that Kashmiris have "started joining the IAS," referring to Athar Aamir Ul Shafi Khan, a 23-year-old from Anantnag, who grabbed the second position in the Civil Service Exam, this year.
Muhammad Shafi Pandit is the first Kashmiri Muslim to have joined the civil service in 1968, securing the third rank. Shah Faesal, became the first Kashmiri to top the 2009 Civil Service Exam, and Ruveda Salam became the first woman from the Valley to become an IPS officer in 2013 and an IAS officer in 2015 after she took the exam again.
In between these three landmark moments, there have been a steady stream of Kashmiri men and women cracking the Civil Service Exam with growing frequency. The BJP coming to power has had no discernible impact on this.
Mr. Naqvi has got it completely wrong.
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