Azam Inquilabi willing to settle for greater autonomy

Azam Inquilabi, one of the leading intellectuals of the Kashmiri Freedom Movement and chief of the Mahaze Azadi, says he supports the restoration of greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.

21st March 1997

Srinagar: In an interview with UNI , Inquilabi said, "If and when granted by New Delhi, this would be a major stride towards a solution to the Kashmir problem." Once part of the militants's vanguard, he headed the Operation Balakote militant outfit in 1990. Azam felt "such a step would add yet another feather in the cap of democracy in the country. It will also show India's seriousness in giving democratic rights to her people. This will bring constitutional and psychological relief to the people of Kashmir… and to those who have been fighting for… azadi."

Greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir would solve half the Kashmir problem and the rest could be resolved later, he said. "Greater autonomy cannot be the final solution, but an attempt in finding a realistic solution," Inquilabi observed. Restoring the constitutional condition to that before 1953, he said, would convey the message to the people of Kashmir that "their struggle had not failed at all and to some extent they had won". This will reduce tension and end violence, he said.

Inquilabi felt Pakistan was at a disadvantage on the plebiscite issue because it was unwilling to withdraw its troops from occupied Kashmir as sought by the United Nations. But he said he was optimistic about next week's Indo-Pak bilateral talks and added that the Kashmiris should not insist on insist on being involved in tripartite talks at this stage.

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