Khalid Jehangir, who has been a journalist by profession, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014. Now an open and young face of the party in Jammu & Kashmir, he is contesting Parliamentary election against Dr Farooq Abdullah, leader of National Conference (NC). It was a pleasant surprise for the displaced Kashmiri Pundits in Delhi and Jammu when Khalid Jehangir knocked at their doors, perhaps for the first time ever, to seek their votes. In conversation with Organiser Senior Correspondent Nishant Kr Azad in one of his election rallies, Khalid Jehangir said that he wants to get elderly Kashmiri Pundits back in the Valley and will work as a bridge to resolve all their issues. “I am here to tell all the Kashmiri Hindus that only BJP cares for them,” has been his message to the displaced voters. Excerpts:
Khalid Jehangir meeting with Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu
You have been a journalist from the Valley. Why did you join BJP?
When I was a student leader in the university, I got an opportunity to work for the people with national interest on my mind. My father was in the Army; my uncle was the first IPS officer of J&K, who was arrested by Sheikh Abdullah in 1952 when he tried to merge Kashmir with Pakistan. Since then our family has been staunch nationalists.
It is my natural choice to join BJP as it was the only party with the nationalistic outlook that works for the people. There is no rhetoric. Here nation is the priority, and they talk about other issues later. I have inherited this nationalistic attitude from my father ever since my childhood. I had a good relationship with BJP leaders even before joining the party and they have been my guiding force throughout my career.
The difference between BJP and other parties is very stark. For instance, BJP’s Ram Madhav ji is more connected to Kashmir and people of J&K than Congress’ Gulam Nabi Azad.
What are the significant issues in J&K Elections?
Since 1947 National Conference (NC) and later Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hoodwinked people of Srinagar and the people of J&K. If you see common Kashmiri, they have got nothing; these parties looted everything, whatever little New Delhi (Union Government) sent for the Kashmiris. They had made New Delhi enemy No. 1 for the Kashmiris. So my message for the people is to get closer to Bharat Mata. It is time to get close to the central leadership headed by Narendra Modi.
Since 1947 National Conference (NC) and later Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hoodwinked people of Srinagar and the people of J&K. If you see common Kashmiri, they have got nothing; these parties looted everything, whatever little New Delhi (Union Government) sent for the Kashmiris. They had made New Delhi enemy No. 1 for the Kashmiris. So my message for the people is to get closer to Bharat Mata. It is time to get close to the central leadership headed by Narendra Modi.PM Modi is an example for the youth of Kashmir to emulate. When a chaiwallah can become a Prime Minister, then one can also achieve anything they want. Rather than pelting stones or taking to guns given by Pakistan, it is time to join the path of development and get integrated with Bharat Mata.
The youth of Kashmir want cinema halls, multiplexes and many more in the Valley as there is none. I have received a letter signed by thousands of Kashmiri youth regarding the same.
Taking a jibe, Omar Abdullah commented on your posters saying, “The saffron of BJP turns green when it reaches Kashmir”.
I don’t see politics through the prism of colours. Whether Mehbooba or Abdullah, they cannot claim any particular colour. Nor do they have any patents. I want to say that ‘Saffron’ is my soul, so green is a part of our national flag, and similarly it is a part of lotus. What is wrong with green? It means peace. Kashmir needs Green and Saffron together to kick out these evil forces.
You are contesting against NC leader Farooq Abdullah. How tough is it?
No doubt Farooq Abdullah is a big fish when it comes to J&K politics, but I feel it is a fight between 42-year old youth and 82-year old man. We have seen him hoodwinking the people of J&K with sloganeering, and divisive politics. He is the one who was involved in forcing the Kashmiri pundits out of the Valley in 1989 and then he fled to London.
The problem with the NC and PDP is that they want to blackmail Bharat and the Central Government for their selfish agenda. Now it won’t work. Only BJP can provide Kashmiri youths with better opportunities and hope. I visited Kashmiri Pundits to let them know that I am always there to help them, whether I win the election or not. That could be a starting point for peace and harmony in Kashmir.
Being a journalist, how do you see the J&K problem?
People of Kashmir are not bothered about Article 370, Article 35A or India-Pakistan relations and China-India relations. NC and PDP have to understand that people vote them for bijli, paani aur sadak ( Electricity, Road and Water) not for fake issues. People are only bothered about their life, development and rot, kapda aur maakan; which these parties have failed to provide. These two families have misused all the wealth offered by New Delhi for their kith and kin rather than using it for the development of people. They kept Kashmir away from the rest of Bharat for their selfishness. I am contesting the elections on these issues within my domain. We need to stop lying to the people. That is why I gave a slogan “Jooth chhodo, sach bolo” (Don’t lie, tell the truth).
The problem with the NC and PDP is that they want to blackmail Bharat and the Central Government for their selfish agenda. Now it won’t work. Only BJP can provide Kashmiri youths with better opportunities and hope. I visited Kashmiri Pundits to let them know that I am always there to help them, whether I win the election or not. That could be a starting point for peace and harmony in Kashmir.You represented Bharat at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. How are you going to deal with the rights of Kashmiri Hindus who are displaced?
Our family was one of the last families that became Muslims. Yet, our roots are with the pundits. Whenever we visit Pakistan, they accuse us of being Kashmiri Brahmins. The truth is our roots are with the Hindu civilization. When I see Kashmiri Hindus facing such kind of discrimination, it saddens me. Here, with the help of media and human rights, I am trying to connect with Kashmiri Hindu youths. PM Modi has been doing his best to solve the issues of Kashmiri Hindus. I am telling Kashmiri Hindu youth that your parents are getting old, they have lost the war to come back to Kashmir, now you are their sons, come and join me and take them back to Kashmir. Their dream is to breath last in their own homeland. They want to do poojas in their own home where their ancestors have lived there for ages.
I want to say that when Pakistan turns out fidayeen and stone pelters, if Kashmiri Hindus join me and become fidayeen for a good cause, it will bring Kashmiri Pundits and Muslims together for a better future.
From where did you get the inspiration of your poll slogan “Khalid hai toh, solid hai”?
I am very inspired by the way Modi ji works. He has become an icon for crores of people. I gain confidence from Modi ji videos. In Kashmir, BJP has been seen doing things in an isolated way, but I want to show people that we are the Modi team and we are not untouchables in Kashmir. It is a fight, and we will fight till to the last.
How do you see the Union Government’s action on Hurriyat leaders? Do you think this should have done before?
Every action needs perfect timing. Whatever decision the present leadership is taking is in the interest of the nation.