Meeting Ram Madhav gave me sense of what was to come: Former Pak envoy

Abdul Basit said Madhav’s tone was “unpleasant and aggressive” during the meeting at the India Foundation’s office in New Delhi in 2014, just before the assembly elections in J&K

UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2021 12:11 PM IST

Former Pakistani high commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Wednesday posted a video online about his meeting with former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary Ram Madhav to illustrate how Pakistan got wind of the party’s policy towards Kashmir and intent to abrogate the Constitution’s Article 370.

In the seven-minute video, Basit said the “unpleasant” meeting was held just before the assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir in 2014. He added Madhav’s tone was “unpleasant and aggressive” during the meeting at the India Foundation’s office in New Delhi.

Basit said Madhav, who was also in charge of the erstwhile state, said that Pakistan should forget about Kashmir and worry about Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. “He said Pakistan was wasting time and it is only a matter of time that Article 370 would be abrogated from Kashmir since it was part of the BJP’s manifesto,” Basit said.

In August 2019, Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which led to the reading down of Article 370 and Article 35 A that gave the region special status and laid down conditions for domicile rules. The state was also bifurcated into two union territories.

Basit claimed Madhav gave Islamabad an insight into what was to come. He added Madhav referred to Pakistan as a terrorist state. “He kept saying that Pakistan is a terrorist state and fosters terrorism. I said it is not as simple as you think things are.” Basit said Madhav refused to listen, “…I got a clarity into the mindset of the BJP and what their policy there will be.”

Basit referred to the BJP’s target of winning 44 seats in Jammu & Kashmir in 2014. He added the BJP’s stance regarding Pakistan’s engagement with the separatist Hurriyat Conference got the party support of Jammu Hindus and helped it win 25 seats in the region for the first time and to become the second-largest party in Jammu & Kashmir.

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Basit referred to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and how its Muslim wing, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, also played a role and launched Indian Muslims in Kashmir. He added he could not meet Madhav after the BJP formed a coalition government with the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu & Kashmir. “There was no pleasantness or liking for each other …It is not important whether I like someone or not but I have to convey my point and understand the other’s point of view,” Basit said. He added he has mentioned the meeting in his upcoming book Hostility.

Madhav said the details about the meeting have been made public without his consent. “We had a long meeting but I was never aggressive. I was only putting across India’s view point with firmness. In any case, we do not expect details of such meetings to be made public without permission.”

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