February 2000 News

Farooq toughens stand on autonomy regrets noises

14 February 2000
Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI: Toughening his stand on the issue of greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today said some unfortunate noises being made against the report of state appointed commission favouring this was un-called for and would have an adverse impact on the people of the state.

The poll-plank of my party was grant of greater autonomy to the people of the state and if that was denied a wrong message will go to people as it will amount to breach of trust, Abdullah told PTI here.

We have not asked for something that is going to alienate the state from India... We have only asked them to study the report within the Constitution confines, Abdullah said and contested views that the regional autonomy report was only a refined form of separatistís demand.

Regretting that some unfortunate noises were being made by some quarters at the centre against the report, he said after all the then Prime Minister (P V Narasimha Rao) had stated in Parliament that as far as autonomy is considered, sky is the limit and subsequently United Front Government had reiterated the stand.

My Government has always maintained that it wants autonomy and separatists are for independence and now it is for the Centre to decide between the two, Abdullah said denying reports that one of his ministersí had reportedly said that India should leave Kashmir if autonomy was not granted. Abdullah said the Indira-Sheikh accord in 1975 had provided for further dialogue on the issue. This is just an extension of that accord.

Asked about criticism of the report even from the former Chairman of the Autonomy Commission Balraj Puri, Abdullah said after his (Puriís) nomination by my Government, we realised our mistake and he was asked to leave.

Referring to detained separatist leaders, Abdullah said he was willing for talks with them provided they were willing to shun the path of militancy.

These talks should be under the purview of Constitution and on an assurance from them that they will not support militancy, Abdullah said.

Asked specifically about Hurriyat leaders who have been in Jail since September last under Public Safety Act, he said the FERA cases against them are being examined and investigations are on to find how much money they got from our neighbour (Pakistan) and other countries.

However, the Chief Minister said he was not averse to talks with these leaders if they were ready to shun the path of violence and join the national mainstream.

If they denounce violence and help in re-constructing the militancy-ravaged state, Farooq Abdullah will be the first person to embrace them, he said.

Abdullah said that even while taking oath as the Chief Minister of the state he had invited Hurriyat leaders for talks. I am never opposed to dialogue.

About the increasing number of militant attacks in the State, Abdullah said in the post-Kargil era, it was evident that Pakistan would try to heighten its activities after tasting defeat at the hands of our Army.

He said Pakistan was coming out every day with new ideas to foment trouble in the state. However, our security forces have been frustrating every such attempt and forcing militants to make a hasty retreat.

The militants after facing pressure in the Valley are now targeting innocent civilians in Jammu. But, Inshallah (god willing) they would taste defeat there also, he said.

The Chief Minister also hinted that militants might increase their activities during the forthcoming visit of the US President Bill Clinton.

About the financial crunch of the state, the Chief Minister said that the Centre would be releasing Rs 300 crore soon after the state signed a Memorandum of Understanding for better financial management with the former.

The implementation of Fifth Pay Commission had put tremendous burden on the exchequers of various states especially Jammu and Kashmir.

When I took over the office, there was already a bank over draft of Rs 650 crore, power dues were Rs 600 crore and another several hundred crore of rupees were accounted for by security-related expenditure ... And people expect me to do overnight miracles with such a huge deficit, he said.

He said the state had run into a debt trap during the Presidentís rule from 1990-1996.

The Chief Minister said that in the annual plan for 2000-2001, he would convince the Planning Commission to allocate more funds for reconstructing the damaged infrastructure of the state.

Bridges, schools, hospitals and several things have to be reconstructed... After all local people should not suffer for long due to militancy, Abdullah said.

The Chief Minister said that the Centre had so far released Rs 400 crore to the state out of the plan outlay of Rs 750 crore for year 1999-2000.

About the displaced migrants of the state camping in Jammu and other parts of the country, Abdullah said the Centre wants them back in their homes but even for that I have to chalk out a plan which will need central assistance.

He said the Centre should have opened more industries in the state instead of winding them up. Some industries which were opened earlier are in the process of being wound up which could also aggravate the situation in the state, the Chief Minister said.

He also urged the Centre to immediately counter-guarantee its four power projects which could give a fillip to the ailing economy of the state.

States like Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have water in abundance which could be used for generation of power, he said, adding my state has the potential of producing power which could fulfill the need of entire North India. (PTI)


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