February 1998 News

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Terrorism will soon end in Jammu and Kashmir: Gujral

9th February 1998
Hindu Special Correspondent

The Prime Minister, Mr. I. K. Gujral, today said that the terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in its bid to annex Jammu and Kashmir would soon be wiped out like it was done in Punjab by the gallant people of that State and the valiant security forces.

Offering condolences to the people of Qaaddan in the Marwah valley of Doda district, where nine persons were killed on January 30, in the firing by security forces, the Prime Minister accused Pakistan of inducting mercenaries and deadly weapons to make innocent Kashmiris its victims. He said they (militants) were not interested in the people but wanted the beautiful Valley (Kashmir). During the past several years a catastrophe had descended on the State taking a heavy toll of human lives. He said the people were gallantly facing terrorism and that Pakistan should not dream of defeating India in a proxy war. "We are strong enough to thwart all such attempts," he said adding that "the entire nation is behind the people of the State in their fight against terrorism." Pakistan would neither succeed in its designs here nor in Nagaland, the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Gujral asked the people to join hands with the Army and the security forces in putting an end to terrorism. The best defence against Pakistani designs was a joint challenge from the people and the security forces, who should have a cordial and friendly relationship. People should immediately bring to the notice of the security forces the presence or movement of militants, he said.

The Prime Minister referred to the effort made by him for improving relations with Pakistan and said he had met Mr. Nawaz Sharif four or five times in order to resolve pending issues amicably. Though the people of Pakistan wanted peace with India, there were some elements who not only obstructed the process but also created problems for Mr. Sharif.

Mr. Gujral said Pakistan was exploiting religious sentiments and misleading innocent people in order to grab control of the region. He, however, asserted that their nefarious designs would be foiled not only by the security forces but by the people themselves. He declared amidst thunderous applause "this is the valley of Kashmiris and the people of Jammu and not of Pakistanis."

Ridiculing Pakistan's tactic of playing the Muslim card, the Prime Minister said India had the most number of Muslims after Indonesia, while Pakistan ranked seventh in the world. He said Muslims whether living in Kashmir, Delhi or Bengal were an inseparable part of this great nation and shared a common heritage. Islam was a great religion and a part of the national ethos. The Constitution guaranteed religious freedom to all and the Government treated all religions alike. He said, "we have a Muslim majority State of Jammu and Kashmir, a Sikh majority State in Punjab and there were Christian and Hindu majority States as well. This diversity made up the Hindustaniat which provided equal rights to all." Mr. Gujral mentioned Pope John Paul's tribute to Indians who had attended Mother Teresa's funeral in large numbers.

Mr. Gujral, in an emotion-choked voice, offered his condolences to the families of the persons killed in the firing incident on January 30. He said, "I have come here to offer condolences on behalf of the nation and to tell you that everyone of us is equally grieved." He said it was the duty of everybody to look after their dependants and that the Government would do everything possible to help them. He said an inquiry would be ordered into the incident and necessary action would follow.

On the lack of communication in the area, he said it needed a dependable road link. Similarly, health facilities should be upgraded.

Earlier, the Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, asked the militants in the area to lay down their arms and return to the mainstream. "The gun has ruined us and impeded the development process. Public servants hesitate to come to far-flung areas to attend to public services for fear of the gun. Militants have destroyed our infrastructure. It is time for rebuilding now." He hoped Pakistan would realize the futility of sponsoring terrorism as it could never hope to succeed in its territorial designs.

The Chief Minister requested Mr. Gujral to launch a special recruitment drive in this most backward and poverty stricken area. He also wanted the Border Roads Organization to lay the 100 km Kishtwar-Marwah road, which had been a dream of the late Sheikh Abdullah.

Dr. Abdullah said the Marwah area was an example of communal amity where Hindus and Muslims had lived in harmony since Independence. This harmony must be preserved, he said.

Earlier, on his arrival at Udhampur, the Prime Minister was received by the Governor, Gen. (retd.) K. V. Krishna Rao, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the Industries Minister, Mr. Bodh Raj Bali, and the GOC Northern Command, Lt. General Padmanabhan. A high-level Home Ministry team, led by the Special Secretary was accompanying the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister and his entourage later flew into Navapachi, where the Food Supplies and Transport Minister, Mr. Bashir Ahmed Kitchloo, the Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. D. S. Chauhan and Mr. Abdul Aziz, MLC, greeted them.


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