Farooq Abdullah: BJP using Kashmir to win the next election 

Kashmir doesn’t have a military solution, says MP and former CM Farooq Abdullah in this interview to Haroon Reshi in Srinagar, while accusing the BJP of politicising Pulwama attack

Farooq Abdullah: BJP using Kashmir to win the next election 

Haroon Reshi

There have been incidents of mob violence and attacks on minorities in Jammu city. Do you see the situation escalating into communal violence in the region?

At the present moment, the situation in Jammu seems to be under control but it is because of the curfew. We have to see if the situation remains calm after the curfew is lifted and institutions open up. There is fear among the minority community. That will take time to go. I hope things will be better and there will be no further escalation. I also hope that the government will ensure that nothing untoward happens.

Many believe that communal violence is being unleashed for political gains. Do you agree?

Yes, I believe this kind of situation is being engineered. There is no doubt about it. BJP wants to win the election by hook or by crook and they are making all efforts, including spoiling communal harmony. They are trying to divide Hindus and Muslims on various issues. There are clear indications that suggest that they do not want communal harmony in the country.

How do you think this kind of situation should be tackled?

Well, I hope there is a mature Indian public and mature Indian leadership that will fight such designs. Otherwise, India is under great threat. I think India is facing a major threat from inside, not from the outside.

Pakistan has denied any role in Pulwama attack saying India is blaming it without offering any evidence. What is your opinion ?

As far as the government in Pakistan is concerned, I can’t really say what they are up to. But there is no doubt that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) elements are operating in our state and they are creating this (Pulwama like attacks) trouble. They (JeM) are actually giving the BJP an upper hand in the upcoming elections.

The central government has said that there will be no talk with Pakistan after the Pulwama attack. What would you suggest?

Well, if we want to live in peace then friendship with Pakistan is essential. But if we want to live with tragedies and troubles then go on as you are going. I believe Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a great leader and we should not forget his utterance about India-Pakistan relations. He used to say that friends can be changed but neighbours cannot be changed. We either live with our neighbours with friendship and harmony or we live in disharmony and destroy our progress on all sides

So, you are saying that even after Pulwama attack India should talk to Pakistan?

Look, every time something happens we blame outside forces. But we don’t see the conditions in our own country and in our own state. For instance, Kashmir is not burning just today. It has been burning for years now. It is a political problem and it needs a political solution, not a military solution. This is something several interlocutors have brought in. We have reports from our interlocutors like Dileep Padgaonkar, Justice Saghir and NN Vohra. Why they (Centre Government) are not bringing these reports to the Parliament so that people of the country would come to know what the problem is? This (Kashmir) is not a military problem. It is a political problem that needs to be settled. We need a political solution to this issue.

What can that political solution be? What is in your mind?

Well, a political solution can never be sought unless we talk. After we talk together with all the elements, we will find a solution. We can’t just predict a solution. Unless we talk and discuss the things, we can’t say this is the right solution and that is a wrong solution. The solution will emerge when they get the heart to talk. The solution will emerge only when they want to talk. But if they (Centre) do not want to talk and want to only win the election, then nothing will change.

Indian Army started ‘Operation All Out’ against militants in 2017. Can it wipe out militancy from the state ?

Those who think that militancy can be wiped out here, are living in a fool’s paradise. I have warned them also in a parliamentary committee meeting which was called by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. I told them that don’t live in a fool’s paradise by thinking that all (militancy) is over and this will not happen again. They can never wipe militancy out unless they resolve the problem by getting a political solution.

Prime Minister Modi has said that security forces in J&K will be given a free hand to tackle the situation. What do you think will be the repercussion ?

He (Modi) says things like this because he knows that he can’t do a damn thing himself. That is why he is talking about giving a free hand to the security forces.

Will it create further alienation in the Valley? Do you think they care about that?

They don’t care. They only believe in fooling the people of India and to remain in power.

You have been stressing on the need for talks. Do you think talks with Hurriyat leaders will help to resolve the Kashmir Issue?

I don’t say you talk only to Hurriyat. Talk to everyone, who matters. My point is why don’t they look at the reports of the interlocutors. They (Interlocutors) spoke to everyone. They must have put some suggestions. Justice Saghir also had given some suggestions. Why can’t they open up those suggestions? Why can’t they restore our autonomy? It was in the Constitution of India. Our autonomy is not outside the constitution of India.

You have said that your party will bring the autonomy resolution if it comes to power. Last time, when your party passed the same kind of resolution in the assembly with two thirds majority, the Centre had rejected it. Will a fresh attempt work ?

Our resolution is already there. We are going to put regional autonomy into effect. We are pursuing that resolution, which was passed by the assembly. We have never given up on our demand for autonomy. They will restore it. They have to. You just watch and see. They don’t have any other option.

A few years ago, you had said in an interview that if Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah were alive, he would have been happy to see young Kashmiris taking arms for Azadi. Do you still think so?

Let me clarify what I think our Azadi would be like. Our Azadi is our autonomy. Where do you think we will go after getting Azadi? Should we go with Pakistan or with China after getting Azadi from India? I believe that we need autonomy within the Constitution of the Indian union. That will be our Azadi and I am always talking of this Azadi. Restoration of autonomy is our right and the government of India has to restore it.

Would things have been different if GoI had agreed to restore the autonomy?

Yes. I think if India had fulfilled its promises to us, things would have been different today.

Article 35A is under challenge in Supreme Court. What will be the repercussions if the law protecting the special right to the people of J&K is revoked?

I think the Supreme Court knows the tragedies which have been inflicted on people (of J&K). I hope they will take a wise decision. That is all I can say. Supreme Court has its own grace. It has to work for the betterment of the nation. I hope Honourable Judges realise what would be the implications of scrapping 35A

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