July 2000 News

JKLF founder flays Hurriyat, backs autonomy

6 July 2000
The Times of India

New Delhi: Hashim Qureshi, founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), has rejected the demand for division of the state by the Hurriyat Conference and has instead supported autonomy. Even the autonomy cannot be ''forced'' on the state, Qureshi has said in a statement faxed from Amsterdam, where he is based. ''Ladakh and Jammu regions have not only rejected it, but also demonstrated against it.'' Qureshi, one of the 1971 hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane to Pakistan, said Farooq Abdullah should initiate a nation-wide debate on the issue of autonomy and the state government should also ''take note of the wishes of people in Jammu, Ladakh and displaced Pundits, who form an essential part of the secular fabric of the state.'' ''It is disheartening'' that the Hurriyat Conference has been demanding division of the state along the River Chenab, Panun Kashmir wants a separate homeland for Pundits, and Ladakhis seek a Union territory status for their region,'' Qureshi said. Qureshi, who later formed his own Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Front (JKDLF), supported the demand for the state''s autonomy ''because it is one mechanism of empowering the people''. ''But JKDLF does not support thrusting a decision on unwilling sections of Kashmiri people,'' he said. Advocating consensual approach, Qureshi said his party stood for the devolution of powers to all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir for multi-dimensional development of the state.


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