- The BJP has sought Mr Azad's apology over his remarks on Ajit Doval
- Visuals of Mr Doval having meal with locals was widely shared yesterday
- He flew to Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after centre's J&K move
Visuals of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval chatting with Kashmiris in Shopian and sharing a meal with them on the streets were a set-up, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged today, provoking condemnation and demands from the ruling BJP that he apologise immediately.
"Paise dekar aap kisiko bhi saath le sakte ho (Anyone can be bought)," Mr Azad scoffed as he spoke to reporters before flying to Srinagar amid a lockdown since Sunday to head off any trouble over the centre's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of special status and split it into two Union Territories. Reports suggest the Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha will be sent back from the airport.
The photos and videos that emerged on Wednesday of Mr Doval's interactions with locals in Kashmir and a pep talk to paramilitary troops, were seen to be an attempt to convey that Jammu and Kashmir, which has seen unprecedented security and restrictions over the past few days, is returning to normal.
Mr Doval was seen in the widely-circulated videos having a meal on the footpath against the backdrop of shuttered shops. He flew to Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after the centre ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and launched a bill for the state's reorganisation.
Officials said he was reaching out to the local population in the Kashmir Valley as a confidence building measure.
The BJP ripped into Mr Azad, saying he was speaking like "people of Pakistan".
"Ghulam Nabi Azad's comments are unfortunate. I condemn it strongly... when the NSA visits the state and meets and eats with the people of the area, the Congress says that we have paid them money. These accusations come from the people of Pakistan. This is not expected from a big political party like the Congress," said the BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain.
"How can you make these accusations? This statement will be used by Pakistan on global forums. He should immediately apologise," Mr Hussain was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
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