New Delhi has not ignored people of J&K - Jetley
19 May 2000
New Delhi: While conceding a need to address the matters relating to human rights in the troubled Jammu & Kashmir areas, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jetley today said the Government''s approach to the overall problem had to be both fair and firm. The important thing, he stressed, was to see through Pakistan''s gameplan which essentially was to stick to a myth (of capturing Kashmir) to put its own people together. The occasion was a panel discussion on ''Kashmir: The Way Forward'', organised by people with a concern for Kashmir. A number of media personalities participated, apart from Jetley and Mehbooba Mufti (Mufti Mohammed Syed''s daughter and now a practicing politician in the Valley), but J&K Chief Minister''s son Omar Farooq Abdullah - many among the audience were eagerly waiting for him, he being one of the scheduled speakers - failed to turn up. What would have been a routine discussion turned lively after Jetley took umbrage to contentions that Kashmiri people today felt alienated and New Delhi was squarely responsible for the situation. Mehbooba Mufti in particular spoke about the ''situation''; New Delhi''s message to Kashmir, she claimed, was :''Hindus in the State are ours, Sikhs are ours, but you Mulsims are of Pakistan.'' Giving several instances of ''torture'' of ''innocent Kashmiri people'' by the security forces, she held: ''We have let many of our jawans die to save stones in Kargil, but what have we done to save the people of J&K? We released militants for 150 Indians (trapped in the hijacked Indian Airlines plane), but why don''t we think about the people in Kashmir?'' A question fired from the audience failed to elicit any response from Mehbooba: ''Madam, what so you have to say the systematic elimination and exodus of Kashmiri pandits from the State?'' But Arun Jetley decided to confront Mehbooba. As far as human rights go, he told Mehbooba, ''you cannot separate casualty (of people) from the armed militancy and external support to militancy. Your argument is not correct. In fact India, as well as its successive Governments have done a lot for the state.'' Jetley said the Government was prepared to begin a dialogue with the misguided people in Kashmir (did he refer to Hurriyat Conference? he did not specify). Through its acts of Kargil, hijacking and Chittisinghpura, pointed out Jetley, ''Pakistan attempted to internationalise Kashmir issue. But instead, it was the character of Pakistan as perpetrator of cross-border terrorism that got internationalised.''