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Former J&K Governor Says PM Modi, NSA Doval Asked him to ‘Seal his Lips’ on Pulwama

In an explosive interview to The Wire, Satyapal Malik alleged CRPF had sought 5 aircraft to ferry its personnel, over 40 of whom died in the 2019 highway ‘terror’ attack.

Satya Pal Malik

Image credit: The Wire

New Delhi: The TV cameras may have turned the spotlight on Prayagraj and the chilling extra-judicial killings in Uttar Pradesh, but the Narendra Modi government is sure to face the heat on damning allegations of “neglect” leading to the avoidable loss of 40 CRPF personnel in the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, 2019.

The allegations have been made by none other than the then Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Satyapal Malik, in an explosive interview to veteran journalist Karan Thapar in The Wire.

On February, as the convoy, consisting of 78 vehicles, of over 900 CRPF personnel was moving on the highway from Jammu to Srinagar, a car laden with heavy amount of RDX rammed against some trucks, leading to the gruesome killing of over 40 jawans.

The terror attack came just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which used the attack as a key poll plank to garner votes.

Read Also: Elections 2019: 1.9% Votes Cast in Pulwama, Grenade Attacks Reported from Parts of Valley

 According to Malik, who has been removed from all government posts and now lives in a rented accommodation with just one security personnel, the 40 precious lives were lost due to the Centre’s refusal to heed the Central Reserve Police Force’s request for five aircraft to transfer such a huge force from Jammu to Srinagar.

Malik alleged that the Home Ministry had “refused”, to provide five aircraft to CRPF, which had led to the huge tragedy.

The Indian Express, in its report, said it tried to confirm this (request for aircraft) with the CRPF director-general, S L Thaosen, via email, phone, and messages, but failed to get a response

On February 14, 2019, when the tragedy took place, Malik claimed that Prime Minister Modi, who was then busy shooting a wildlife film in Jim Corbett National Park, called him and asked him to “Keep Quiet” (Chup Raho) on the “lapses” on the part of the government. He said National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also asked him to do the same and not talk about any security lapses, adding that he realised that their intention was to “blame Pakistan” for the attack and derive electoral benefits from that.

On the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019, soon after the BJP won a massive mandate in the general elections, Malik said he was not against the move but said he was opposed to “downgrading” J&K from a state to Union territory (UT), adding that the people in the region have been “more pained” by that. The former Governor called for restoring state status to J&K, and termed PM Modi as “ill-informed” and “apne mein mast” (busy with his own self).

In another damning statement, Malik, who call himself a Lohiaite (follower of socialist Ram Manohar Lohia) said Modi’s declarations on fighting corruption ring hollow as “Mein safely keh sakta hoon Prime Minister ko corruption se bahut nafrat nahin hain” (‘I can safely say the PM has no real problem with corruption’). 

In this context, he referred to two deals worth Rs 300 crore (Rs 150 crore each) in J&K during his tenure, one related to a Reliance insurance scheme and the other to a hydel plant.

“(Ram) Madhav (BJP-RSS leader) came to see me at 7 in the morning and sounded very upset by my decision to scrap the deals,” he told Thapar, alleging that at that time people were telling him that he could get Rs 300 crore for clearing both schemes.

In the interview, Malik, who is writing a book on his days as J&K Governor, also claimed that appointments with President Droupadi Murmu are cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), citing his case when he was on his way to meeting her when he got a call cancelling his appointment.

Malik’s interview and his assertion that he “stands by” whatever he has said and was ready to face all consequences, raised the hackles of the Opposition parties, with the Congress, which accused Modi of “saving his image’ ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by “suppressing facts” and alleged “intelligence failure” that led to the Pulwama attack. The Shiv Sena and other parties have also sharpened their attack on the Modi government with regard to the Pulwama attack and other allegations made.

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