July 2000 News

Delhi will have to pay heavy price: Farooq

8 July 2000
Times of India

Srinagar: Breaking his silence for the first time after the Union Cabinet ''slammed doors on autonomy'', Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said New Delhi must get ready to pay an unaffordable price for it. ''If they refused to talk and discuss about the autonomy resolution, I wonder what will they do if the Hurriet Conference, contests polls and adopts a resolutions in the assembly seeking merger with Pakistan'', he said. ''I do not know, how I controlled my emotions'', referring to those ''terrible movements'', Dr. Abdullah said, ''I felt bad, very bad''. Now, he said, ''some people want my dismissal and arrest, I give a damn to them but let me make it clear, if they want to jail me, let them, I am 63 and I will be in the jail for next thirty years, they know I am the son of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the man whom they imprisoned for 22 years''. Intervening at the conclusion of the first day of the two-day seminar - Autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir ; Restructuring Indian Federalism, sponsored by the State Autonomy Committee, Dr. Abdullah said, '' What you say, are we traitors?''. ''When you call me a traitor, I have a space to go to but I do not want because I and my party has already decided. It is you ( Indian intellectuals), who have to see our wounds, listen and heal out, I beg of you'', a highly emotional Chief Minister said. ''We joined the Union thinking our rights and the identity will be protected but here we see Kashmiri Pandits fighting the Kashmiri Muslims and one region sent to collide with the other one'', Abdullah said while giving the instances of ''injustices and discrimination''. He said after the seats in the assembly were increased it necessitated increase in the upper House strength as well. ''Because of BJP pressure they are not granting us eight seats'', he said, ''Centre sould say yes or no within four months and in a recent meeting at Delhi we were told that none of the recommendations were received by the Centre''. Lamenting sections who accuse him of corruption, Dr. Abdullah said ''where is the money, that we would swindle''. State''s developmental plan, he said, should have been finalised in January but it is July and yet to be discussed. ''After a month, if they offer 20,000 crores, what we will do to that''. Accusing Delhi of supporting people who want to carve out Panun Kashmir at Pahalgam, Dr. Abdullah said, ''I told them OK it will be Panun Kashmir but wherefrom will you move when it is Musalman Kashmir outside''. This hurts, he said adding , ''Musalmans do not matter, they are dispensable'' in the system. Referring to his recent visit to Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister said Delhi must get ready to leave Tamil Nadu. If Tamils managed to have a separate state in Sri Lanka, a demand various people in India support, ''be ready to leave Tamil Nadu''. He also referred to his meeting with the Punjab militant leader Sant Singh Bhindrawalay saying ''in case they would have succeeded there were no chances of retaining Kashmir''. Making a passionate appeal that people in New Delhi must understand ''our problems'', Adbullah said ''inducting more troops will not solve the problem, we must have something so that we try to bring down the level of alienation''. Denying there was any coincidence between the autonomy issue and the proposed talks with the APHC, Dr. Abdullah said the special session on autonomy was planned in April last. ''I do not want to stop them from negotiations, I will like to see when the government of India starts dialogue on Azadi'', he said. On APHC, he said, he was never averse to the formula. ''I infact offered the Hurriet leaders to contest the polls leaving the two-third majority but what would the great government of India do when they come and adopt a resolution on merger of state with Pakistan''. Reiterating his earlier position that he wants threadbare discussions on the issue, Dr. Abdullah pleaded the delegates that they should make Delhi understand that all these things are being cashed by the Pakistan. ''Why do you not watch their radio and TV''. He said he stands for federal India and not a unitary one. Insisting that he wants conciliation and not confrontation, Chief Minister said, ''1987 alliance was forced upon him and that had disastrous consequences''. He repeatedly said ''Delhi has failed us''. Earlier while inaugurating the seminar, Chief minister said his government will not submit the report of regional autonomy committee (RAC) to the Centre and will pass it in the state legislature. ''We need not go to Delhi for RAC, as we have two third majority in the assembly'', chief minister said. State Autonomy Committee (SAC) report, that was rejected by the Cabinet, did not affect its importance and is final. ''It is a pity. Democracy disallows outright rejection'', he observed. Terming greater autonomy, a viable and better solution, Dr. Abdullah said, ''it was far from accession to Pakistan or making an independent state''. Kashmir problem, he said, was created by New Delhi itself when Pandit Nehru refused Sheikh Abdullahs suggestion of deciding it once for all and not making its future subservient to the wishes of the people. There is always scope for a dialogue in a democratic set up'', chief minister said. He asked the Centre to convince the National Conference government where it is wrong. '' If we are wrong we will not demand autonomy. But if they (Union government) are wrong, they will have to restore the autonomy'', Dr Abdullah said. Chief minister said his party is not in favour of weakening the country. '' We are fully aware that Kashmiriyat can remain alive only in India. He regretted that minorities particularly Muslims and Christians are being targeted in the country and these attacks must stop.


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