Taking a serious note of the Speaker of the J&K Assembly, Nirmal Singh, accusing the Indian Army of “harassing” the people, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JCCI) on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendera Modi to sack him from the constitutional post he was holding and also from the BJP.
The JCCI convened an urgent meeting here on Tuesday to discuss the sweeping statement that Nirmal Singh made soon after being elected Speaker of the Assembly. He was recently removed from the post of deputy chief minister of the state.
In a letter to Modi, the JCCI expressed “shock and anguish” over the statement of Nirmal Singh. “The Chamber feels that a person holding the second highest constitutional post in the State of J&K and speaking against credentials of Indian Army by such irresponsible utterances is not in national interest,” the statesman said.
The letter released to the media by Manish Gupta, secretary general of JCCI, read: “The Chamber or for that matter any Indian will always stand by Indian Army in any given situation and shall not tolerate such statement from anyone whosoever it may be. Chamber feels that by speaking against the army, the Speaker has not only brought a bad name to the pride of ‘Dogras’ but has also brought a bad name on the political party he belongs to.”
Seeking intervention of Modi, the JCCI urged him to sack Nirmal Singh immediately not only from the prestigious post but also from the party.
It is worth mentioning that Nirmal Singh had accused the Army of harassing people when the GOC of the Nagrota based sensitive strike corps, Lieutenant General Saranjeet Singh, shot a letter to Nirmal Singh telling him that the house he was building over a 2,000 square metre land adjacent to the ammunition depot was illegal.
Nirmal Singh’s anti-Army remark was immediately highlighted by the Kashmir based anti-India separatists and the valley-centric parties that claimed that the Speaker belonging to the BJP had endorsed what they had been accusing all these years.
The top Army officer of the 16 Corps had in the letter told Nirmal Singh that construction of the house was in “violation of Works of Defence Act (WoDA) 1903 as also Government of India, Ministry of Defence notification vide SRO 203 dated 26 September 2002. Construction activity within 1,000 yards of the boundary wall of 4 ASD has been prohibited. Efforts made by the Army with civil administration and police authorities to prevent violation of orders of Government of India and minister of defence have not yielded positive results,” said Lt Gen Saranjeet in his letter.
Lt Gen Saranjeet had requested Nirmal Singh to “reconsider construction of residential accommodation in close proximity of the ammunition depot being a potential safety hazard”.
Reacting to the Army’s objection, Nirmal Singh had reportedly told mediapersons that “they (army) don’t let people construct even a toilet. People are harassed. You should speak to people there. Because it is my house, it is politically motivated. They started objecting. Why don’t they get a stay, they can’t do it”.
Nirmal Singh’s wife Mamata Singh, on whose name the piece of land stands, claimed that no rules were violated during the construction of their house in Nagrota area and asserted they had the requisite permissions.
“Please don’t lend ear to the rumours. We are nationalist and can never say anything against the Army. Visit the place and investigate on your own and you will come to know about the real position,” she told mediapersons.