May 2016 News

Mixed Reaction In JK On General VK Singh's Kashmir Statement

2 May 2016
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: The statement of Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd) V K Singh that separatists can talk to Pakistan has evoked mixed reaction in Jammu and Kashmir with moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcoming it while the hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said Kashmir is internationally recognized dispute. 'Better late than never, we hope India will realize that Kashmir is not a trade, law and order issue but a political issue which should be resolved politically,' Mirwaiz said while addressing a press conference here. While welcoming General Singh's statement, he said he believes that Government of India (GoI) would withdraw red lines it has drawn and revisit the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Kashmir policy to resolve Kashmir dispute. 'We have always supported dialogue for resolution of the Kashmir issue. Kashmir is a political and humanitarian issue and India should not equate it with trade or any other issues,' the moderate separatist said. In a written reply in parliament on April 28, General (Retd) V K Singh had said that since the entire state of J&K was an integral part of India and these so-called Kashmiri 'leaders' are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India. Former Chief Minister and opposition National Conference working president Omar Abdullah also welcomed General (Retd) V K Singh's statement. 'This is what we had been stating from day one. That the Centre's position on this was wrong and calling off talks with Pakistan over Hurriyat leaders meeting Pakistani diplomats was wrong and a gross over reaction. We are glad better sense has finally prevailed and the Central Government has corrected itself', he said. Omar said the central government should clarify why the previous PDP-BJP State Government detained Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar last year in order to prevent them from travelling to New Delhi to meet the visiting Pakistani delegation. Meanwhile, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani while responding to a query on General Singh's statement said Kashmir is international accepted dispute, which has also been accepted by India. 'Our birth right has been promised to us at international level and UN resolutions form basis of our struggle.' He said Kashmir issue is not any border issue. 'It is a human issue involving more than 1 Crore people.' Another separatist leader Shabir Shah, who is admitted in a Srinagar hospital, termed General (Retd) V K Singh's statement as 'illogical' saying the people of Jammu Kashmir nor the separatist leaders are Indian citizens. 'VK Singh must know that Kashmir is not Delhi or UP but has its own identity and never been part of India. He must answer what is the relevance of Lahore or Shimla agreements before the 18 resolutions that stand passed in the United Nations Security Council on Kashmir,' he said.