October 2000 News

Muslims future linked with Kashmir: Farooq

2 October 2000
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: The future of over 22 crore Indian Muslims is directly linked with Kashmir, and in case it ''secedes'', it could lead to a communal backlash; it is because of Kashmir that the credentials of Muslims of the country are being ''suspected''. This was the view held by the Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, when he spoke at the valedictory session of the two-day conference on ''Kashmir Today - Challenges and Prospects'', on Sunday. The conference was organised by the Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Developmental Studies (KFPDS). ''If you think there is going to be a dialogue (between India and Pakistan) or that the Kashmir problem is being solved, you are mistaken... This is not an issue of the people but an issue of land, and neither of the two is in a position to make any compromise.'' Expressing dismay over the increasing communal tendencies in the country, he said, ''The secession of Kashmir or carving a separate State of Jammu will lead to a communal backlash worse than that of 1947. The future of 22 crore Muslims in India is directly linked with Kashmir.'' Dismissing the possibility of a ''separate State'', he said if that happens Muslims in Doda, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur will not stay in Jammu, and that could result in another state, followed by bloodshed. For the development and posterity of Kashmir ''we all must accept the fact that we are Indians and they (PoK people) are Pakistanis''. Dr. Abdullah said the anti-Kashmiri Muslim feeling had been nursed by persons like Indira Gandhi and the entire Muslim community in India is today facing the repercussions. Reiterating his earlier stand, he said the only solution is to accept the ''Line of Control as the permanent border'' so that ''we maintain our relations of trade and interact with each other; but I do not know whether that would be possible in my lifetime. I am not an Indian stooge.'' Pakistan was a party to the dispute but ''so many things have changed in the last five decades, there is no need to talk to them''. ''India will not let Kashmir free even if it costs the destruction of whole of India... Any compromise will led to the killing of Gen. Musharraf or the fall of Mr. Vajpayee,'' he added. This despite ''my belief that only a Hindu fundamentalist party such as the BJP can talk to Pakistan with ease unlike the Congress.'' He said there is no option but to accept the finality of accession and that PoK is a part of Pakistan. The former Foreign Secretary, Mr. Salman Haider, in his paper made observations about all the three regions of the State - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. ''We encountered feelings of anger, dissatisfaction, distrust, suspicion and mistrust towards the Government,'' he said about Jammu, besides, ''lack of communication between Jammu and Srinagar and a vast difference in the political aspirations of the two''. Among a few groups, they found a vocal demand for a separate State for Jammu though a significant minority does not support it. He said the Regional Autonomy Committee report might have fuelled the separatist feelings; but the Pandits yearned to return to Kashmir. ''There is a desire for peace, resentment against violence and a sense of deep hatred against India and the security forces, with people feeling brutalised,'' Mr. Haider said reflecting on what he gathered from Kashmir in the company of Prof. Amitabh Mattoo (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Prof. Rekha Choudhary (Jammu University). Prof. Hari Om, a historian from Jammu University, pleaded for a separate state for Jammu. He said the vast differences between the political aspirations of the people in the three regions did force Mr. Haider and his colleagues to have a separate set of observations and recommendations for the regions. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were never a single unit so why should they be kept together, he asked. Former Central Minister, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, said a trifurcation would have dangerous consequences and the theory has gone to the extent that some people in the Congress(I) even support it. He, however, favoured dilution of powers to the regions and said the rejection of autonomy report by Delhi was a misfortune for the political leadership there.


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