Saying “India can’t be bent by violence”, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday asked militants to come to the negotiating table and take forward the dialogue. However, when asked whether the government was ready for talks, Malik said that the mandate doesn’t lie with him.
“You can’t bend India by violence. This is something the leaders here don’t tell their children,” Malik said at a press conference, his first since he took over as J&K Governor. “You take everything from us, you take our life but by love, through talks. That’s why Narendra Modi is ready, we are ready. You come on table… and take it forward.”
Malik said that at times New Delhi committed mistakes, but bigger ones were made by the leadership in Kashmir. “I respect the people in Hurriyat. They…have suffered lot, though for a wrong cause,” he said.
“New Delhi made some mistakes but the bigger mistake was done by the leadership here —they didn’t tell truth to the people. Only through dialogue something could be achieved. You can get everything under the Indian Constitution,” he said.
On the apprehensions in Kashmir about Article 370 and 35A, Malik tried to allay fears. “Article 370, 35A — it is in the manifesto of many (political) parties. It is being discussed. But there is not anything that you should be worried about,” said Malik, who was accompanied by his four advisors and J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam.
“There is a rumour that delimitation (of Assembly seats) is going to happen… It is a constitutional matter. Till now, the Home Ministry has not confirmed it,” he added.
On Assembly elections, Malik said that the decision lies with the Election Commission. “When would the (state Assembly) elections happen would be decided by the Election Commission. The security situation would be assessed by the security agencies and the Home Ministry. They would inform the Election Commission and they would decide the dates.”
When asked if the state government was prepared for the elections, Malik said: “If the security we need is made available, we are prepared.”
Chief Secretary Subrahmanyam while acknowledging the anger among the youth in the state, said the government is coming out with “massive outreach” for them.
“Youth mostly aged between 15 and 25 years are somehow unhappy. We can’t deny that. I will not be saying anything but just wait and watch. Before July 12 we would be coming out with a massive outreach programme. We need to tell these young people that life is about living and not about dying.”
Governor Malik urged the media to stop portraying Kashmir in a negative light.
“I would like to appeal that in Delhi, the press is so negative about Jammu and Kashmir, they demonise it. If a person dies here, the news runs for two weeks. In my district, five people die every day. On Meerut-Muzaffarnagar-Suharanpur highway, tourists are looted every week.. There is no mention of that. But they do it to destroy Kashmir and the tourism here. With folded hands, I appeal you to focus only on the positive news,” he said.