August 2001 News

For NC, autonomy is the best solution for Kashmir

2 August 2001
The Statesman

Jammu: The only way to pull J&K out of the present turmoil is to restore its autonomy, says the National Conference. The party considers it “the best possible solution among many options.” Speaking to The Statesman, the J&K works minister, Mr Ali Mohammed Sagar, said Kashmir had two facets – external and internal. Since Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf couldn’t solve the external problem, the best thing was to grant greater autonomy to the state. “Though the Centre had rejected the autonomy resolution passed by the Assembly, it will have to rethink... because autonomy is the only solution...,’’ the NC leader said. Greater autonomy will solve the internal problems of the state. “After all, why can’t the Centre restore all the rights and facilities that we enjoyed till 1953?,” he said. “Let the Centre give autonomy to any state it wants, but it has to be restored to J&K to uphold the honour and dignity of its people,” he said. J&K is not like any other state, for it has acceded to India on certain conditions and enjoys a special status. “When Dr Farooq Abdullah refused to participate in 1995 general elections unless autonomy was restored to the state, he was assured by Mr Narasimha Rao, then the Prime Minister, that the sky was the limit for Kashmiris,” Mr Sagar said. But the Centre didn’t keep its promise. Asserting the readiness even of some separatists groups to settle for autonomy, Mr Sagar said that they were now talking of a peaceful solution and have expressed their willingness to talk to the Prime Minister. “Some of them are even ready to contest elections.” Referring to the suffering of the people because of the turmoil, he said they are now yearning for peace. The state, he said, is facing a war like situation and in such circumstances the security forces do sometimes overreact at some places when they are targetted by the militants. He, however, called upon them to exercise maximum restraint, specially in case of the civilians. The minister also cautioned people not to get swayed by the propaganda of the anti- national elements who are bent upon disturbing peace in the State. Mr Sagar lashed out at the detractors of the NC government and accused them of resorting to its unfound criticism without any concrete welfare programme for the people in mind. Despite facing various odds, the government is making strenuous efforts to extend basic amenities to the people in each and every corner of the state, he said. “Its achievements speak for themselves and do not need anybody’s certificate because people know what we have done for them.” Mr Sagar demanded that the government reconstructed the infrastructure destroyed during militancy to a great extent. Besides reconstructing hund reds of school buildings, bridges and hospitals, several villages were provided roads and safe potable water in the last four years. “Out of the 315 damaged bridges of the state, we have reconstructed 216. So far, 550 damaged or gutted school buildings have been renovated and reconstructed, and 2500 culverts constructed,” he said.


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