New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Monday saw a heated debate on the Kashmir issue with the government refuting the opposition charges of using excessive force on the protesting civilians while blaming Pakistan for the bloody unrest.
Defending the Centre's action, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the security forces have been asked to use maximum restraint and least force.
Refuting Congress' charge that the state government failed to handle the situation, Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he himself had asked security forces to exercise maximum restraint in dealing with mob violence.
He said the use of pellet guns, which have been blamed for most civilian injuries, will be looked into.
Replying to the debate, the Union Home Minister affirmed that while militancy will be dealt with sternly, there should be "no instant" use of bullets.
The Home Minister said he had, on Saturday last, expressed desire to visit Kashmir and have a dialogue with the people directly.
CM Mehbooba, while welcoming the offer, told him that after the situation normalises a bit, she will come to Delhi and have a meeting with him to discuss in what format talks can be held, he said.
Both Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have blamed Pakistan for the violence in Kashmir and said Islamabad has never reconciled to Jammu and Kashmir being part of India.
"Whatever is happening in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored. The name is 'Pakistan', but its acts are 'na-pak' (not pious)," Singh said on the opening day of the Monsoon session.
Referring to the demands for 'plebiscite', he ruled it out, saying it is "outdated" and people of Kashmir are being "misguided" on this issue.
"Kashmiris are our own people. We will bring them on the right path... We will make them aware of the reality," he said.
Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee's famous remarks of 'Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat' (kashmiriyat, democracy and humanity), he said "If there is any place for Kashmiriyat in 'Jamhooriyat' (democracy), it can be only on the basis of 'Insaniyat' (humanity) and not 'Haivaniyat' (devilish acts). Those believing in Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat, cannot give space to haivaniyat."
He asserted that militancy will be dealt with sternly and Pakistan should not interfere in India's internal affairs.
Slamming Pakistan for its "irresponsible" role, Singh questioned its claim to be the "protector of Islam", asking, "How can a country claim to be protector of Islam when it was born on the basis of religion, when it is witnessing bloodshed in the name of religion."
He questioned how Pakistan could claim to be concerned about Muslims in India when it itself could not remain united despite being a Muslim nation.
"It is for the government of India to look after minorities of India and we will do so, whether it is Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or anybody," Singh asserted, asking Pakistan to lay off.
He asked the minorities to "keep faith" in the government, cautioning that there are a "lot of people out to misguide them."
"If we remain united, India is in such a position that it can become the world power," he said.
Responding to demands by opposition for holding an all-party meeting on Kashmir, Singh said, "I want to assure Rajya Sabha that any action to be taken in Kashmir will be taken after taking everyone in confidence. We don't do politics for forming government, we do politics to make the country great."
Blasting those who celebrate the killing of security forces, Singh said, "it is reflective of Haivaniyat (devilish behaviour)."
In this context, he criticised those who have described the gunning down of militant Burhan Wani in an encounter as "extra-judicial killing", saying such a mindset is "perverted".
"This mindset has been seen whether in the case of Dantewada, Bastar or Kashmir. If security forces are killed, there are celebrations. Such is the perverted mind. We will address it," he said.
Reaching out to the opposition, he said, "While addressing Kashmir unrest issue, we will take everybody along. This country belongs to all, including you (opposition)."
Jaitley said, "Pakistan never reconciled the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India" and it would be wrong to think that the situation deteriorated because of anything else, but Pakistan supporting terrorism in the violence-ravaged state.
The Finance Minister said that in Jammu and Kashmir it was the battle between the country and Pakistan-sponsored separatist forces.
The opposition, while attacking Pakistan for fanning trouble in Kashmir, asked the government to initiate a political process and direct security forces to exercise restraint while dealing with protests.
(With inputs from agencies)