March 2003 News

An attack on Kashmiriyat: Mufti

26 March 2003
The Hindu
Luv Puri

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today said the State Government would take all steps to restore a sense of security among the people. Winding up the debate on the Governor's address in the Legislative Council, the Chief Minister said 'the killings of innocents was a setback to the peace initiatives in the State. The enemy spared no one in the last one decade and this time the attack on Pandits was a direct attack on Kashmiriyat, a secular identity of Kashmir which had a history of centuries.' 'We must rise above petty politics and take on the assault head on with all our might,' he asserted. The Chief Minister said he had plans to protect the remaining 270 Kashmiri Pandit clusters in the valley. 'Whatever tools we have at our disposal, we will employ everything and try to protect innocents from the gun. A security meeting is being called soon and security has already been strengthened,' he said. But the Mufti said it was finally the people of the State who had to create an atmosphere where there was no room for gun. The people had to be convinced and motivated to fight militancy. Asking the people to be logical in their criticism of the coalition Government headed by him, the Chief Minister said, 'there is no contradiction between the 'healing touch' and fighting militants. Both supplement each other.' Appealing to all the legislators, he said, 'I, with all my experience of 40 years, want to convey them not to lose the golden opportunity to talk with the Central Government representative.' He asked why should any body have objections to a dialogue. He chided National Conference for demanding autonomy and added that nobody could conclude that it was the final solution of the problems of the State without ascertaining the views of every one in the State. He said, 'fiscal autonomy is more important than political autonomy as the State already has its constitution in which there are several special powers for it.' 'What we need is economic self-reliance which we do not have right now. At every step, we have to go to the Central Government for funds.' He said that the State budget would be based on 'realism'. Earlier in the Assembly, embarrassing scenes were witnessed when the Panthers Party, a coalition partner, moved a bill for an amendment to the State Constitution for giving State subject rights to the Punjabi refugees (migrated from Pakistan in 1947) living in the State for close to 50 years. Even the Deputy Chief Minister, Mangat Ram Sharma, appealed to the mover of the bill, Balwant Singh, Panthers Party Legislator to withdraw it at this stage. The Congress has always stood for giving the Punjabi refugees the State subject and no power on earth could deny them their right.' But he added that the Panthers Party should realise the fact that it was sharing power in the Cabinet and everyone had to work in cooperation. The Cabinet would collectively come out with its policy on the issue and see to it what was to be done to do justice. The Panthers Party legislator pressed for the bill and hence he earned the wrath of the Deputy Chief Minister. In an angry mood, Mr. Sharma said that if that party did not want to work in cooperation in the coalition Government, it was most welcome to withdraw its support of four legislators. The bill was put to vote and was defeated by a voice vote.


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