Stay with India or leave for Pak : Farooq to APHC
6 April 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah said today that he had no objections to national as well as international observers presence in the Assembly elections, due late this year and assured the people that the elections would be free and fair. He told the All Party Hurriyat Conference, which had the other day announced boycott of the Assembly polls, to take a final decision as to whether they want to stay with India or Pakistan. Addressing the Legislative Assembly on last day of the budget session, Farooq said :''I have no objection to the observers presence from any part of India. I have no objection even to the international observers presence. Let they visit each and every booth of the State during the polling and see for themselves the fairness of the elections''. Referring to the demand of Governor rule’s imposition, made from some political parties including Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s PDP, he told PDP MLA Abdul Rehman Veeri that ‘we are all here (in the House) in the elections held during the Governor’s rule’. ''I’ll never like even my single man to come here in the House on the rigged vote. This is in the best interest of the democracy''. Lashing out at the Hurriyat Conference, the Chief Minister asked the separatist conglomerate to take a final decision that whether they want to stay with India or Pakistan. ''If they (the Hurriyat people) want to go to Pakistan, I will open the route for them. Let them go to Pakistan and form Government there'', he declared. He questioned the allegation of rigging, levelled by the Opposition parties in the recently held by-election to Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency, and remarked :''if we win the elections, the allegations of rigging are levelled but if they (the Opposition) emerge victorious, the elections are free and fair''. The Chief Minister cautioned that enemies of the country as well as the State would try their best to scuttle the electoral process but declared that the Government was determined to keep the democratic institutions alive and strengthen the State’s ties with India. ''Our one enemy was across the border and second one in the State. The enemy within the State was difficult to be tackled'', Dr Abdullah said without elaborating. He asserted that the National Conference Government had succeeded in bringing the democratic institutions in the State back on track during its five and a half year of governance. The Chief Minister noted that this was for the first time when his Government was completing full term. He referred to the sacrifices of the people, who laid down their lives to keep the democratic institutions alive and paid tributes to them. Admitting that his Government had failed in getting autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir as promised in the election manifesto, Farooq, however, declared that ''Insha Allah (God willing), we will get autonomy in the next Assembly. No power on earth can stop from getting autonomy in the State. It’s not an issue of manifesto but the principles''. Regretting that the Centre had rejected the autonomy resolution even without reading it, he said ‘they should have convinced us or got convinced from us’. The Chief Minister kept the House guessing on the schedule of Assembly elections but said he wants the new Assembly and new people including the younger ones (without naming Omar Farooq) to come in the House. ''Though it’s time for step down for the elders but the need of some veteran people was also must for governance. If all old people are ignored, there would be no one left to teach the youngsters. A balance has to be maintained'', he asserted and said ''I want to see peace returning to Jammu and Kashmir in my life''. Farooq, however, indicated that one more session of the Assembly would be held in July this year. Toning down his anger against the Centre, the Chief Minister said ‘the Centre don’t want to dislodge us’. He blamed the media for trying to create misunderstanding and wedge between Centre-State relations. He pointed out a heading in one of the newspapers which read ‘Knives out for Farooq’ and took exception to it. He also denied any groupism. Referring to his recent outbursts in the Assembly and New Delhi, he said that many time he lost patience. ''Mera Lehza Baat Karne Ka Sakht Hai (my way of speaking reflects angerness)'', he pointed out and recalled that his normal talk was also taken as anger by his wife and family. He, however, regretted that Jammu and Kashmir was given a step-up of only 7 per cent against 20 per cent step-up of other States. ''Had planning Commission given more plan to us, we would have increased the legislators Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from Rs 25 lakh per year to Rs 50 lakh'', he said. Farooq declared that all three regions of the State—Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh would remain a single entity and ‘we would never allow them to separate’. Allaying members’ apprehension, he said no innocent person would be booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). ''I have seen may father languishing in jail. My Ministers and their fathers had also seen the jails. We would never misuse the Act'', he said, adding ‘the Government had to take some hard decision for welfare of the State and the country’. He said a SRO would soon be issued extending the facilities to the people living on the International Border at par with the Line of Control. He said the delegations of the MLAs and MLCs would be sent to the foreign countries to explain position on Kashmir. Farooq also announced restoration of terminated Class-IV employees of Education Department. ''Ask them to lift their dharna and start getting there appointment orders from my and my Chief Secretary’s office from Monday'', he told the Opposition members, who had been agitating throughout the session demanding terminated employees restoration in the services. He told MLA Rajouri Mohd Sharief Tariq that the issue of Paharis status would also be settled before the Assembly elections.