9th September 1997
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has said that leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) had realised the futility of the separatist campaign but did not give it up for fear of their lives.
Mr Abdullah made these remarks at a rally held on the 15th death anniversary of his father and founder-leader of the National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, on Monday. The rally, held at the mausoleum of Sheikh Abdullah, was attended by about 5,000 people, the biggest in the last eight years.
The chief minister reiterated his government's resolve to make all out efforts for the restoration of greater autonomy to the state within the Indian Union. But he wanted to do it through dialogue, rather than confrontation, he said. He dismissed as unfounded the fears in some political circles in the country that restoration of autonomy would undermine the country's integrity.
Mr Abdullah sought the people's cooperation to uproot corruption in the state. The state administration had rusted during the seven-year spell of President's rule, he said.
The chief minister acknowledged the generous financial assistance being given to the state by the United Front government at the Centre. The earlier regimes had discriminated against Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
Mr Abdullah voiced his demand for transfer of the three Centrally-funded power projects, Salal, Uri and Dul Hasti, to the state. This, he said, would be a fair compensation to the state which had been put to a disadvantage by the Indus water treaty between India and Pakistan.
Under the treaty, India has ceded the right of constructing a dam on any of the three rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir in lieu of such rights regarding the rivers in Punjab.
The rally at Sheikh Abdullah's mausoleum was held amid tight security with para-military forces lining the routes leading to the venue.
The occasion was marked by a shut down in Srinagar in response to a call by the Hurriyat Conference. The Hurriyat called the strike on the occasion to protest against alleged deterioration in the human rights situation in the Valley under the Farooq Abdullah government. The strike call also evoked a response in Ganderbal, the home constituency of Mr Abdullah, besides Sopore town and in Pulwama district. But shops were open in Baramullah, Anantnag and Kupwara towns.