Farooq, Advani warn Centre on Kashmir


20th August 1997
Hindustan Times Correspondent

LONGOWAL (Sangrur): Bharatiya Janata Party president L. K. Advani and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah today warned the Central Government that peace talks with Pakistan should not be at the cost surrender of Kashmir.

Speaking at a state-level function organised by the Punjab Government to mark the 12th death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, the leaders asserted that peace talks cannot be held in an atmosphere where the Pakistan's Premier is talking about continuing assistance, both moral and financial, to Kashmiri militants for their struggle.

Cautioning the Centre against US attempts to mediate on the Kashmir issue, Dr Abdullah said "US mediation should not result in the super power eating both Kashmir and Pakistan."

He said India had returned some strategic areas like the Haji Pir to Pakistan under Russian pressure. "The same mistakes should not be committed again for only gaining friendship with the neighbouring country."

Supporting Dr Abdullah's stand Mr Advani said that "Gujral's doctrine of surrender would spell doom for Kashmir, Punjab and the entire country". He said peace talks with Pakistan are meaningless if the latter does not change its stand on Kashmir and stops interfering in India's affairs.

While demanding more autonomy for the states Dr Abdullah said that the violent agitations witnessed in both Punjab and Kashmir, are due to the wrong policies of the Centre.

"It should be clearly understood that all political parties are for a united India and no attempt should be made by the Centre to destabilise opposition-ruled states," he said while adding that he would soon convene a meeting of Chief Ministers of Northern states to discuss the vital issue of State-Centre relations.

In another significant development, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee president Gurcharan Singh Tohra today demanded that the Centre should apologise for the attack by the forces on the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star and the 1984 riots, in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed.

Criticising Prime Minister I. K. Gujral for his advice to British Queen that she should not visit Amritsar, Mr Tohra said that the Queen's visit would have gone a long way in convincing the people of the world that peace prevails in the State.

In an obvious reference to former Director General of Police K.P.S. Gill, Mr Tohra said "A former police officer and some vested interests are talking about terrorism returning to the State. If the Queen had spent 55 minutes at the Golden Temple this wrong impression would have been cleared." He added that the demand for an apology from the Queen had been raised by people who wanted to prevent her trip.

While demanding that the Centre should pursue the matter of return of Sikh relics, including the priceless Kohinoor, from Britain, Mr Tohra said that all historic artefacts taken from India should be returned by the British Government. Hoping that the Queen would still visit Amritsar, the SGPC president said "If the Queen intends to apologise for the Jallianwala massacre, she should do it before leaving UK for India. "

Samata Party president, George Fernandes also criticised Mr Gujral for his 'advice' to the Queen. Claiming that Congress was responsible for the Prime Minister's statement, Mr Fernandes said, if the Queen had apologised for Jallianwala Bagh episode, it would have been difficult for the Congress. Since it would have faced demands for an apology for the 'attacks' on the Golden Temple and the 1984 riots.

Saying that Mr Gujral's advice is solely to scuttle the Queen's visit to Punjab, Mr Fernandes said that the mere visit of the Queen to Jalliawala Bagh would have meant Britain's regret over the 1919 massacre.

In his address, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal warned the people of the State against forces which were trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the State.


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