Farooq challenges Hurriyat to contest elections
4 February 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Lashing out at opposition for launching slanderous campaign against his Government, Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah today challenged All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections to prove their representative character. ''They (Hurriyat leaders) are very much aware that it will be difficult for them to even save their deposits that is why they are hesitating to contest elections'', he said while addressing a meeting of the party workers at Sher-i-Kashmir Bhawan to kick off election campaign of the party candidate, Choudhary Talib Hussain. Stoutly refuting the apprehension aired by the opposition regarding manipulation in the elections, Dr Abdullah said, ''my Government is committed to conduct free and fair elections. Instead of hurling charges against State Government, oppositions including Hurriyat should join democratic process to know their popularity''. ''People are fed up with Hurriyat and other secessionists groups responsible for the prevailing blood- shed in the State'', he said and challenged Hurriyat leaders to contest elections. Taking a dig at former Union Home Minister and PDP chief Mufti Mohammed Sayed for launching a malicious and vicious campaign against State Government, Dr Abdullah said that people like Mufti were responsible for the deaths and destruction in the State. ''Had Mufti sacrificed his daughter for the nation, situation would have been entirely different in the State'', he lamented, adding, ''release of Ms Rubia Sayeed in exchange of five dreaded terrorists was the turning point in the history of State''. ''Despite my opposition the then Union Government had committed that historical blunder which plunged the State into an era of blood-shed and destructions'', he recalled and lambasted PDP chief for befooling the masses by exploiting their emotions. Chief Minister cautioned people against these leaders who have no standing. Exhorting the party workers to iron out their differences, the Chief Minister said that National Conference workers have to face challenges of oppositions unitedly. ''You have to shoulder greater responsiblity, so shun your petty interests and work for the party’’, he said. Later in an informal chat with media-persons, Dr Farooq Abdullah disclosed that he has asked his son and Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Omar Abdullah to take up responsiblity of the State. ''We have been hoping that he will take charge of the entire election campaign for the party in the forthcoming Assembly elections'', he said and hinted that Assembly elections may be held early. Replying to a question, Chief Minister said that he has not diluted his stand on conversion of Line of Control (LoC) into International Border. When his attention was drawn towards the statement of Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee in which he has ruled out conversion of LoC into IB, the Chief Minister said that he was still struck to his stand. ''In a democratic country like ours every person has a right to express his views so there is no question of disagreement'', he said. Reacting to a question regarding war with Pakistan, Dr Farooq Abdullah said that India do not want conflict with its neighbouring countries. ''If Pakistan continues exporting terrorism in the State we will be left with no option but to declare war'', he said. Chief Minister also ruled out that State Government has made any proposal to give safe passage to the foreign mercenaries who have infiltrated into this side. ''No question of giving them safe passage. They (foreign terrorists) should surrender with arms and they will be treated under rule of law'', he said. Earlier Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah released election manifesto of the party for the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha by-election. In the manifesto party pledged to strive hard for the unity and integration of the country. Party also promised to bring peace and tranquility in the State by eradicating menace of terrorism. It was further promised that to keep check on the activities of communal forces, National Conference will join secular and integrated forces. Party also promised to provide all comforts to the inhabitants of border areas who were forced to leave their homes and hearths due to tension on the border and firing from Pakistani side. Further more NC promises to expediate work on Mughal Road to connect Poonch with Kashmir valley.