A day after Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) backed independent MLA and former Kerala Minister K.T. Jaleel courted controversy by calling Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) “Azad Kashmir”, he withdrew his remarks on Saturday.
“After coming to notice that my remarks on my social media page about my recent travel has led to some misunderstanding and was contrary to what I wanted to say, for the good of the land and the people, I announce that I am withdrawing that post,” wrote Jaleel on Facebook.
Meanwhile, according to sources in the know of things, Jaleel who had earlier stood his ground was forced to back off on the directions of the top brass of the CPI-M.
Also, the Congress on Saturday expressed doubts whether the remark was made with the knowledge of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Terming the remark “unacceptable”, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan told the media that a true Indian will never make such a statement.
“His statement is ‘pro-Pakistan’ and doubts are being raised if this was made with the knowledge of Pinarayi Vijayan,” said Satheesan.
Jaleel was the Kerala Higher Education Minister during the first tenure of Vijayan-led government from 2016-21. Even as he won in the April 2021 Assembly polls, he was not made a minister.
He represents the Thavanur Assembly seat in Kerala’s Malappuram district and ran into trouble over his PoK Facebook post in Malayalam after a recent visit to Srinagar.
“The part of Kashmir annexed to Pakistan was known as ‘Azad Kashmir’. It was an area not directly influenced by the Pakistani government. Pakistan only controlled currency and military aid. Azad Kashmir had its own army. The unified army became the common army of Azad Kashmir during Zia ul Haq’s presidency,” his post read.
With regards to Jammu and Kashmir, he wrote: “India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which comprises Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh…. Kashmir’s face was not bright enough. Gun-totting soldiers everywhere. Policemen also have guns slung over their shoulders. Olive green (of the Army) is the colour of Kashmir for decades. Armed soldiers can be seen every hundred metres along… there was sadness on the face of the common people. It seems that Kashmiris have forgotten to laugh. Army trucks and military presence seem to be a part of daily life for Kashmiris.”
Meanwhile, top CPI-M leader and second-in-command in the Vijayan cabinet- M.V.Govindan said the party has a clear stand on this.
“We never make such remarks and Jaleel has to explain what he meant,” said Govindan.
Kerala BJP president K. Surendran reacting to the remarks said Jaleel has no right to continue as a legislator as his statement on PoK as ‘Azad Kashmir’ is against the country’s sovereignty and should be booked for sedition.
“We can expect only such statements from a former SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) leader,” added Surendran.
In fact, Jaleel began as an activist of SIMI and became a firebrand leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), but owing to differences, in 2006, he quit the IUML and joined hands with the CPI-M.