Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister at the 2-day Kashmir Conclave in New Delhi on Friday. Caravan Daily


Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Urging dialogue with all stakeholders for resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday that if the issue of Article 35A is tinkered with there would be no one in J&K to hold the Indian flag. “Who is doing it? Why are they doing it? (challenging the Article 35A)” Mufti asked. She added, “let me tell you that my party and other parties who carry the national flag there, despite all risks… I have no doubt in saying that no one will hold it if it is tinkered,” said Mufti.

The Chief Minister said: “You are not targeting separatists who have an agenda to secede but you are weakening the forces who have accepted India, participated in elections. They make efforts to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with India with respect and dignity. You are weakening them.”

She said it is sad to see how television prime times projects India that widens the gap between India and Kashmir. “I am sorry to say that the image of India which the (TV) anchors project is not what India is about, is not the India I know,” she said.

While addressing ‘Understanding Kashmir’ session hosted by social group BRIEF, Mufti said that Kashmir is an idea of India. “The basic question is how much is the idea of India ready to accommodate the idea of Kashmir? This is the crux,” she said.

She recalled how Kashmir, during the Partition, defied the two-nation theory and the divisive separation on grounds of religion, and aligned with India. She said, “There have been special provisions in the Constitution for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, with the passage of time something happened somewhere that both sides (state and center) started doing dishonesty.”

Referring to the recent arrest of some Hurriyat leaders, she warned that “administrative measures” won’t address the real issue.

Also Read: Kashmir Shuts Down To Protest Hurriyat Leader’ Arrests

Strongly defending the constitutional clause for a separate J&K flag, the CM said that any change in its status would invite repercussions and mean that nobody would be able to protect the Indian national flag in Jammu and Kashmir.

Invoking Vajpayee

Invoking the former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s promise of ‘Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriat”, she said there is a need to revive the peace process. “Modi is a man of moment and he can lead to solution the problem,” she added.

She also underlined that “administrative measures” could only contain the unrest in the state but it won’t bring to tangible results to solve the basic problem.

Senior Congress leader and former minister Manish Tewari cautioned that the problem cannot be solved by using only hard power.  Referring to Punjab, Assam, Mizoram and other trouble-spot, the congress leader said all were solved through negotiations.  He criticized the Modi government’s current policy on Kashmir saying it is consistently depending on “hard Power”. He said even senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has recommended resumption of dialogue process but the government is not heeding the call.  He said that we also need to talk to Pakistan as without this peace cannot be achieved.

During the first session of conclave, prominent politicians, activists and journalists expressed concern over the shrinking space for mainstream politicians in the Kashmir. They emphasized that reviving the dialogue process with all stakeholders of the Kashmir problem is utmost necessary. They warned that the Government of India’s present policy of dealing the problem with ‘iron hand’ would only aggravate the situation in the state. They also warned that the “muscular nationalism” may bring some political gains for the ruling party but it will harm the interest of India.

Opening the debate of the first session of the two-day conclave on “Situation in Kashmir: The Role of Politicians and Civil Society”, Prof Siddiq Wahid said the dialogue is the only way of resolving the problem and emphasizing that the Huriyat conference is an important stakeholders. Prof Wahid, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology, briefly presented the history of Kashmir dispute.

Moderating the session, Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari said political leadership has failed the people of Kashmir, just as the people of India have abandoned them.

Stressing the need for dialogue with all stakeholders, Bukhari said all those who challenged the basic idea of accession with India should be talked to. He also underlined the fact that there were 7,000 militants in the 90s as had been stated in Parliament in 1988, now this number has come down to just 200 to 300.  He said the civil society has to play its role in pressuring the government to resume the dialogue process.

Senior journalist Barkha Dutt said the biggest problem is that New Delhi lives in denial even as mass rage is increasing in the Valley. She warned that the problem couldn’t be solved by “muscular nationalism”. She also warned that “the movement in Kashmir is taking a religious color.”

Veteran journalist Vinod Sharma said the Kashmir side story is not getting adequate coverage in the media. He said people of Kashmir feel that the people of India have abandoned them. Breakdown of communication is a serious issue and now the onus is on civil society to play its role in reviving the dialogue process, he added.

National Conference leader and former J&K home minister Nasir Aslam Wani said meaningful dialogue is the only way to move forward and dialogue never hurts anything except egos. “Everything is ready and in place for reviving dialogue process. There is autonomy report prepared by the J& K government and working group’s reports and other mechanism for it.”

Lambasting some Indian TV channels for presenting Kashmir constantly in negative light, Wani said radicalization is not a huge issue as it has been projected in New Delhi. He said those who raise the IS flag after Friday prayers is only meant to provoke channels like Times Now.

Criticizing the role of electronic media, senior journalist Rahul Jalali said there is need to revive the spirit of the Vajpayee era. Advocating for intra-Kashmir dialogue between Jammu and Kashmir and Kashmir and Ladakh, Jalali said separatist leaders have no unitary voice as there are around 27 disparate groups. He also called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for bringing together Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims once again.

While challenging the “accession to India”, Kashmir’s independent lawmaker from Langate Engineer Rasheed said that the only way to resolve the problem is to hold plebiscite. “If only five percent people are against India in the Kashmir Valley and people of Baltistan, Gilgit and Azad Kashmir all want to join India, then why India does not hold a plebiscite,” he asked.

“It is for New Delhi to introspect and answer if Kashmiris could raise Pakistani and Chinese flags, why couldn’t New Delhi manage even five people who would hoist tri-color in Kashmir. The bitter reality is that not only the main stream politicians but the every institution that has some connection with New Delhi has lost its credibility and New Delhi is controlling Kashmir only at the barrel of the gun.”

“Taking oath under Indian constitution doesn’t mean that one should lie, mislead, misrepresent or become a ‘yes man’ of New Delhi. J&K is neither India’s integral part nor Pakistan’s Jugular vein. Let all the national parties keep J&K dispute above politics and understand that J&K issue has nothing to do with India’s sovereignty,” he added and blamed the “Shaikh and Mufti dynasties for the present situation of Kashmir”.

“Mehbooba Mufti, Omer Abdullah or anyone else has no moral or legal right to talk about any such solution that would dilute the disputed nature of J&K”.


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