Muddasir Ali
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 12 2018 11:24PM | Updated Date: Jun 12 2018 11:24PM

In an interview with GK Special Correspondent Muddasir Ali, Farooq Abdullah talks about the current situation in Kashmir, and the new politics emerging in India. Here are the excerpts. 

In one of your recent statements you demanded imposition of governor’s rule in J&K. What prompted you to make the statement?

The point is that nothing is moving in J&K on political and governance front. At least during the governor rule, the things moved and there was justice done to everybody irrespective of party he belonged to or who he was. Today there is no justice expect for their (PDP and BJP) own people. They are talking about agenda of alliance. Apart from focus on development there were two important things in that agenda – talks with Hurriyat and talk with Pakistan. What happened to that? Four years have passed. This party (PDP) has failed not only people but themselves as well. Today the atmosphere has got so vitiated in the state that we have now Hindu Jammu and Muslim Kashmir. We never saw that before. Unfortunately the two parties which are running government, their ideology is completely divergent to each other. We are losing our youth because our people don’t see any hope on governance front as well as political front.


But the government is saying that a political process has been started to address Kashmir problem?

What process are they talking about? Has any letter gone to Hurriyat people? Has anybody explained on what basis they are going to talk to Hurriyat? Hurriyat says that government of India must accept Kashmir as a dispute. Is the center ready to accept this? So where is the talk? They are just trying to hoodwink people of Kashmir. They have never ever really understood Kashmir. One day they say Hurriyat is relevant and next day they say Hurriyat is irrelevant. I don’t see they really want people of Kashmir to stay with them. They are trying to create situation where people are thinking of going far away from India. And they (PDP) are watching silently. What happened to their self rule? They have buried it for the lust of chair.


Your party too faces same criticism for “shelving” autonomy?

No. We fought for it and got it passed in assembly. But they (New Delhi) didn’t act on it. We have not given up on it. It is our ideology and it is the only solution to Kashmir problem. We were promised autonomy will be restored by no less than then Prime Minister Narsima Rao when he made statement in the parliament that sky is limit as far as autonomy is concerned. We passed it by 2/3rd majority. What did they do to it? It is not something outside constitution of India and it is not something which is a threat to unity of the country. We are not going to give it up. We talked about it even when we were in power. My son (former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah) told them that financial packages won’t solve Kashmir. Autonomy is the only solution to Kashmir. We are not like these people (PDP) who have surrendered everything for chair.


How do you see politics changing at national level in India?

They are trying to change constitution of India from secular to Hindu India. Do you think people of Kashmir will accept it? They will never. It will further push away people from the concept of India and that is where the danger lies. We are already losing faith of people of Kashmir in government and rest of India because the way we have been dealing with Kashmir. Now the way things are shaping up, Kashmiris will feel that they have no future with this country. Today there are two parties: one (BJP) wants complete abrogation of Article 370, and the other (PDP) is watching silently. What is left of Article 370 today? That party (Congress) eroded it completely over the decades and now these people (BJP) are taking about its abrogation. The only things we had was fiscal autonomy. But the PDP surrendered it completely.


You talked about changing character of India from secular to Hindu. How do you see future of Kashmir in this changing India?

I foresee nothing but disaster. We are a Muslim majority state and it is not going to go well with people of this state. They should rethink before taking such step. You have suppressed a people for past 70 years and didn’t get anything. Now you want to stretch it. They won’t sit silent. The destruction is looming over our head.


Does these happenings across India ever force rethink in you about Kashmiris’ position India.

No. Not at all. We have no other place but in India, in secular India and in a democratic India, the one which is for all of us. Today not only Muslims but Christians, Dalits who too are Hindu, are being targeted and their rights are been trampled. That is why unity of political parties is taking place to save India. There is no other way for us. The 2019 will show the way. People have realised that India will break if steps are not taking to save it.


The separatists have said they are ready to talk but they have asked government of India to come clean on this talks offer. Do you expect any forward movement on Kashmir now? 

 This talk is for the sake of talks, to fill in the blanks. There is nothing in it. Let them first specify what they want to talk about. What happened to the slogan, that as far as autonomy is concerned, sky is the limit. I don’t think they are ready to give anything to them.


You have been saying that all parties from both sides of the divide in J&K should come together for Kashmir resolution. What will they fight for, if this unity takes place?

There is only autonomy that we have to fight for. I will like to ask those people who talk about Azadi, where is the money going to come from for defending our borders. There is China, a nuclear power, on one side; Pakistan another nuclear power on other side and India, the third nuclear power on other side. You are land locked people. Where are you going to go? Where is money going to come from for running the state? Where is development going to come from? These people who are showing them dreams need to think in real terms.


But in one of your own statements recently you said that youth who are joining militancy are fighting for their political rights?

There is something called futile struggle. These youth are wasting their lives. One day Kashmiris will realise futility of it. Their leaders will realise futility of it; Kashmir is filled with graves. The need is to make ourselves economically strong rather than chasing impossible. The need is to put our brains together and realise what is possible and what is not. Don’t fight for something which is not possible. To become part of Pakistan is not possible or to become independent is not possible. One day they will realise this when Farooq is dead. The only thing that is possible is autonomy, if we unite and fight for it. If you just want to fill graves, go and fill them because people are enjoying it. The community is enjoying it, but you will realise it one day.


You talked about changing India. Does it come to your mind that the decision taken by your father to remain with union of India was wrong?

No. Never. Thank God we didn’t become part of Pakistan. Go and see condition in that country today, you will shiver. But you can’t keep dragging on this Kashmir issue. Today there is a danger that local educated youth are joining militancy and getting killed. A day will come government of India will be ready to give autonomy but there will be no takers for it in J&K. I have said it to them before also. We are moving towards dangerous times. The world is moving in that direction. Look at the condition in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and now the country left is Iran. We are heading in same direction.


Why don’t you take an initiative and reach out to Hurriyat for unity?

The problem is that we have been never allowed to unite. There is no unity. Let elections come and you will see for yourself how many parties will sprout. The government of India is following divide and rule policy in Kashmir to continue to rule us. They are doing so to stay in power here.


Tell us about 1975 accord. What forced your father to go for it? Had Pakistan given him green signal to go for a deal with India after losing Bangladesh?

They (Pakistan) had decided with Indira Gandhi that what we hold is ours and what you hold is yours. It was a deal settled between them.


How would you describe the center’s Kashmir policy under BJP rule?

There is no policy. This talk about talks is to hoodwink people. This offer of talks has not been made here only but in rest of the country also. (The BJP President) Amit Shah is meeting people in every state to try and bring them back because elections are coming. They are losing election after elections and now trying to mend fences. And once election is over God know what they will do for next five years. This talk about talks is driven by election compulsion and nothing more. There is pressure from world also that Kashmir has to be normalized. The Prime Minister must be facing this question everywhere he goes. This unrest must be very much on their mind and how to normalise the place.


And is any breakthrough possible without taking Pakistan onboard?

Finally, they will have to talk to Pakistan. It is one of the biggest problems that we have. There can be no solution without taking them on board and convincing them that we have to move on. Today, Pakistan has other fear that India will set up dams in Kashmir and stop water to them. They fear they will kill them thirsty. And this government is planning to do that. The government of India should instead tell them (Pakistan) that we won’t take away your rights.


Your comments on the ongoing ceasefire?

No ceasefire will work unless Pakistan is part of it. That is how 2003 ceasefire worked. It lasted for such a long time that people were able to cultivate land on zero line.


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