NC Ready To Drop Autonomy Demand If There's Acceptable Solution
8 September 2004
The Times of India
Srinagar: National Conference (NC) president Omar Abdullah today offered to drop the idea of greater autonomy provided a solution to Kashmir issue is found out which would be acceptable to the people of the state. He was addressing the party workers during a one day convention of block Bandipora here today. 'We have been saying that the Jammu & Kashmir state be given greater autonomy as it enjoys a special status. If the people give their verdict against autonomy and propose a different solution to the Kashmir imboglio, then we would respect the verdict and stop demanding for the autonomy', said the NC president. Omar who represents Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in the parliament stated that the National Conference does not and cannot represent the wishes of all the people living in the state. He added that the Kashmir issue can be solved only when the voice of the Kashmiris is heard. 'If a long lasting solution to the Kashmir issue is to be found out then talks should be held with all the groups and without it the whole exercise is futile. In addition to solving the Kashmir issue many other issues such as employment, development and others have to be taken so that confidence is built among the people', said the NC president. Omar expressed his surpise that the Hurriyat Conference leaders can hold talks with the Pakistani foreign minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri and not with any minister of the central government. He added that such a step indicates that the Hurriyat Conference leaders are not keen to hold dialogue with the Indian leaders. 'I have differences with the Hurriyat Conference but that does not mean that they do not figure anywhere. The Hurriyat Conference leaders carry weight and they represent the wishes of some of the people. Therefore it is necessary that the talks are also held with them', stated the NC president. Omar said that both India and Pakistan should realize that they cannot hold the Kashmiris hostage for a long time and they should also realize that they cannot decide about the fate of Kashmiris. He added that the successive governments at the centre had no trust on NC and how can they listen to our pleas. The NC president accused the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of playing into the hands of the Congress government at the centre and is trying to erode the special status enjoyed by the state. He added that the Peoples Democratic Party was established at New Delhi so as to counter the popular mass base of the National Conference. Omar said that Mufti has been sabotaging the accords which were struck between the National Conference leaders and the various central leaders. He added that it was Mufti who sabotaged the Indira-Sheikh accord, Rajiv-Farooq accord and it was part of the same conspiracy that PDP was floated so as to create dent in the vote and support of the NC. The leader of opposition in the legislative assembly Abdul Rahim Rather said that the coalition government has a secret agenda and it is playing its cards in such a manner to give the impression that it is sympathetic to the people of the state. He added that the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is trying to erode the special status being enjoyed by the state. 'Mufti once said that he knows what would be the solution to the Kashmir issue but since then he has never spelt the details in this regard. How can he say so as he has a hidden agenda and would not disclose it to the people', stated Rather. He added that the PDP government has totally failed in providing a transparent and fair administration to the people. The leader of oppostion said that it was Mufti who played a crucial role in perpetrating atrocities on people when he was the home minister. He added that had the chief minister acted in wiser manner at that time lives of one lakh people who have died during the last 15 years would have been saved. Rather stated that 42 presidential ammendments were made from 1953 to 1975 so as to erode the special status of the state. He added that the Transfer of Property Act (TPA) is yet another conspiracy to make it possible that outsiders come here and set up business establishments and settle down here. MLA Kangan Mian Altaf Ahmad in his speech said that the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed along with Mehbooba Mufti used to visit each and every village when anybody was killed, but when seven people were killed in Chitti Banday none of them bothered to pay a visit. He added that the government promised that a commission would be set up to probe the killings but all said and done no action has been taken in this regard. The National Conference provincial president Mehboob Beg, MLA Langate Sharief-ud-din Shariq and MLA Gurez Nazir Gurezi also spoke on the occasion.