Former Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah and president of the opposition National Conference on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally lead an initiative on political outreach towards the people of Kashmir. “There can be no alternative to the issues being addressed by the Prime Minister directly,” he said and asked Prime Minister to realize how every passing day of silence and inaction pushes the youth of Kashmir further away from the idea of India and fuels the growing sense of disenchantment in their hearts and minds. “A prolonged phase of political inaction could lead us to disastrous consequences,” Farooq said in a statement circulated here.
Pointing out that Kashmir is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated political dispute in the entire world and it “can be outsourced to neither the Home Ministry nor the Defence Ministry nor the bureaucracy in New Delhi” the NC leader said that the “Prime Minister is morally and politically obligated to deal with this issue personally and politically, with a sense of justice, history and empathy.”
Expressing grief over the loss of lives and alarm over the worsening situation in the Valley, he said it was important for New Delhi to acknowledge that the “genesis of the Kashmir turmoil lies in the injustice of August 1953 when a popular, democratically elected Prime Minister of J&K was illegally overthrown to suppress the political sentiment in Kashmir.” While it was heartening to see that certain central leaders in New Delhi were now talking about the political nature of the problem, it was a pity that the same leaders chose to not lend their voice of support when the Interlocutors’ Report and the Sagheer Committee Report was available for discussion and implementation, he pointed out.
He said those Central leaders in New Delhi who are advocating a political solution to the Kashmir Issue today have traditionally acquiesced with the conventional, tried and tested formulations of an operational handling of the issue. Their stand today is welcome and a positive development and I hope they don’t go back to the conventional policy of validating an operational handling of the issue when seeking a political resolution might become less expedient for them, he added.
Pointing out that every phase of political unrest in the Valley including the current one is a manifestation of a prolonged, systemic erosion of faith in Kashmir, the NC leader said that “what happened on the 9th August 1953 continues to remind the people of Kashmir about how New Delhi has chosen to either suppress the political sentiment here or deal with it through an operational prism with a perpetually short-sighted, fire-fighting policy. “Unless the root cause of the political instability and alienation in Kashmir is addressed constitutionally and politically, crushing the sentiment by use of force is not only futile but also highly counterproductive,” Farooq said.
He welcomed the parliamentary discussions on the current situation in Kashmir, saying the Parliament needs to acknowledge and understand the root cause of alienation and unrest in the Valley and accepting the criminal nature of the injustice perpetrated against the people of J&K on August 9th, 1953 would be a good start to an open-ended, broad-minded introspection at the national level.
Prevarication and deflection of responsibility won’t help anymore. The problem in Kashmir is about the people of Kashmir and their political aspirations neither about any other country nor about terrorism. New Delhi has to engage with the people of Kashmir who are the primary stakeholders in the political issue and also the rightful final arbiters of their destiny. A sustained, comprehensive political dialogue on Kashmir between New Delhi and Islamabad is equally indispensable not only for a feasible and long-lasting resolution of the vexed Kashmir Issue but also for the cause of sustainable peace and stability in the subcontinent, Farooq Abdullah added.
Expressing his heartfelt solidarity with the families of those who have lost their lives in the current unrest, he said there has been a clear pattern of an excessive use of lethal force against protesters. The situation is saddening and heart-rending and is worsening with each passing day. A prolonged phase of political inaction could lead us to disastrous consequences.