Autonomy will not sever J&K from nation: Farooq

15th August 1997

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has asserted that granting of autonomy to the state would not weaken its ties with rest of the country and said his government would take up the matter with the Centre soon after two committees set up for the purpose submitted their reports.

"The concept of autonomy is not to weaken the ties of the state with the rest of the country but it will go a long way in greater integration by meeting the regional aspirations of the people," he said in a message on the eve of 50th year of country's independence.

He said accession of Jammu and Kashmir with Indian union was a "historic reality which no power on earth can undo."

However, he said, "It is also a fact that the Centre had made certain commitments and promises to preserve the state's distinct identity and autonomous character within the framework of Indian Constitution."

"Over the years, autonomy has been eroded and we are seeking its restoration," he said.

Abdullah said once the recommendations of the committees on autonomy were received it would be debated in the Assembly and views of political parties taken into account before reaching a final decision. The reports, expected next month, would then be submitted to the Centre for its consideration, he added.The Chief Minister said that eight years of militancy had destroyed whatever had been built in Jammu and Kashmir. "Though our enemy inflicted damage on our social fabric and temporarily stalled our march, our ethos remained intact. Our composite heritage is our strength." Describing militancy period as the "darkest period" of history of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said, "Pakistan sponsored militancy has soaked the state in blood."

Stating that Kashmiri pandits have been forced to live as refugees, he said they have to return to their homes soon with dignity.

Normal life in Srinagar and other major towns of Kashmir valley was disrupted on Independence day today following a call given by the secessionist Hurriyat Conference to observe the day as "black day".

Barring some parts of Anantnag and Badgam districts, shops and business markets remained closed and all modes of transport remained off the roads throughout the Valley.

Streets in Srinagar and adjoining areas wore a deserted look as people remained indoors in response to the strike call.

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