India not against Hurriyat leaders visit to Pak: Farooq
3 March 2001
The Asian Age
Dubai: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has denied that the Indian government was against the visit of the Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan. “The delay is not because New Delhi is not in favour of the visit. The Hurriyat group is divided on the issue as there are conflicts within the organisation,” he was quoted as saying by a Jeddah-based daily. Dr Abdullah is currently in Saudi Arabia, leading the Indian Haj goodwill delegation for the pilgrimage. The chief minister asserted that there was no question of a plebiscite or referendum in the troubled state. “The fact is that the conditions for holding a referendum no longer exist. We need to have the pre-1947 situation for such an exercise”. The conditions, in fact, demanded that Pakistan vacate the part of Kashmir occupied by it and there should be an end to foreign mercenaries fighting in the valley in the name of Kashmiris, he added. “What we witness is not a fight by local Kashmiris, but by cross-border mercenaries,” he said. On the autonomy issue, Dr Abdullah said “I hope the government will discuss it with me. While the Hurriyat has its own agenda of either joining pakistan or remaining independent, what we in the national conference want is autonomy within the constitutional framework. That is why we are targetted. We have paid a price and we will continue to pay the price”. Asked about the alleged violation of human rights, he said “India does not deny human rights violations. We don"t hide them. In one such incident, we instituted an inquiry by a sitting judge. Nothing can be a more glaring testimony to India's transparency on human rights than the Indian army conceding its lapse in opening fire while dealing with a demonstration in the state recently”. On the ongoing ceasefire in the state, Dr Abdullah said the people there were happy that guns had fallen silent. “The result has been good. Our borders, which used to boom with guns, are silent. People in the border areas are once again ploughing their land. They are happy now that searches by security forces are over”.