Former chief minister of Indian-held Jammu Kashmir and National Conference party’s chief Dr Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday called on India to ‘wake up’ to think of a political, not military, solution to the Jammu Kashmir issue, and warned New Delhi that, “You are losing Kashmir.”
In an interview with India Today, Abdullah, who is contesting by-polls in Srinagar, urged Pakistan and India to hold talks to combat terrorism. “Whether you like it or not, you have to talk to Pakistan. If you want to beat the threat of terrorists, then you better start talking now,” he warned the Indian government.
“You better wake up, and start thinking on not a military solution, but a political way,” he said, cautioning the government against the use of force in India-held Kashmir. “And come down from your high horses… I am seeing a very bad situation,” he said. “The youth is on the boil, which I have not seen before,” he said.
The former chief minister lamented that the Indian government had failed to provide security to the Kashmiri people. When asked if he should be bridging the gap between Kashmir and India instead of almost endorsing Azadi, Abdullah responded: “Sometime ago, an Indian parliamentary delegation came to Kashmir under the leadership of the home minister. The delegation was told that we will talk to the youth and all the stakeholders. Have they done so, in a single step, in the last two years? Why do you blame me?”
Responding to the allegation he was stirring the pot to get votes, Abdullah said: “Wake up, wake up. The situation is quite bad, and don’t tell me Pakistan is not a party to this problem. Whether you like it or not, you have to talk to Pakistan. If you want to beat the threat of the terrorists, then you better start talking now.” Abdullah said India is running out of time and should start talking to all stakeholders of held Kashmir, including Hurriyat Conference, freedom fighters and Islamabad.
“Let us start mending our fences, and start controlling the present problem. Let’s not burn, let’s talk to the youth, Hurriyat, other leaders and come to a solution,” he said. The National Conference chief, who served as the chief minister of Indian-held Kashmir from 1982 to 1984, also held Pakistan partially responsible for the situation in Kashmir. “The situation is quite bad, and don’t tell me Pakistan is not a party to this problem,” he added.
Responding to a question on how India can start the talks this time, the former chief minister said, “You have eight people dead, and God knows how many injured. How long will you keep on doing this? You think it’s all law and order? Or, you think by development you can change the mind of people?” On why he doesn’t implore the Kashmiri youth to participate in mainstream politics and become part of the state, Abdullah said the authorities are not serious about it and have done nothing in recent past to address the plight facing the youngsters.
“Some time ago, a parliamentary delegation came to Kashmir under the leadership of the home minister. The delegation was told that we will talk to the youth, and all the stakeholders. Have they done so, in a single step, in the last two years?” he asked. Abdullah’s statements come after Indian police on Monday imposed curfew-like curbs on movement of people across several parts of the disputed valley, a day after clashes with protesters during a by-election killed eight people and injured more than 200. Markets, educational institutions and other business establishments remained closed in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir on Tuesday, adversely affecting normal life. Internet services also remained suspended in the state.