Kashmir fondly remembers Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The frequently used expressions ‘Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhooriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmir’s legacy of amity)’ were coined by Vajpayee as the 3 principals to solve the Kashmir issue

PTI Photo
PTI Photo
user

Haroon Reshi

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, perhaps the only Indian leader in recent times who was respected and trusted in Kashmir across the political and social spectrum, is being fondly remembered in the Valley.

Most of the mainstream and separatists leaders have been acknowledging the fact that it was Vajpayee, who sincerely tried for a peaceful resolution of vexed Kashmir issue during his tenure as a Prime Minister.

The most memorable movements about Vajpayee in Kashmir are of April 2003, when he visited the troubled Valley. He was the first Prime Minister who had visited Jammu and Kashmir, after militancy erupted in 1989. Former Chief Minister Mehboba Mufti remembered him as “the first Prime Minister who understood the agony of Kashmiri people.”

In his speech at Srinagar’s cricket stadium, Vajpayee enthusiastically talked about “dialogue, peace and reconciliation”. It was noted and reported by media at that time, that the soft-spoken Prime Minister repeated the word “dialogue” more the 12 times in his 12-minute long speech.

Offering “dialogue and reconciliation” to the Kashmiris, Vajpayee had said in his speech, “Gun would only kill people and would not solve any problem. Time has come to change Kashmir's fate … Not only are our doors but also our hearts always open for you. You come to us with your grievances.”

It is believed that Vajpayee’s speech later pave the way for a first-time dialogue between Government of India and the moderate separatists leaders headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in 2004.

“I strongly believe, that Kashmir issue would have been resolved, if the government would have not changed in Indian and Parvez Mushraff, would have not struck in domestic issues in his country.” Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat, senior Hurriyat leader, who was part of the delegation, which met Vajpayee and his Dupty L K Advani in New Delhi, in 2004, told National Herald.

The most memorable movements about Vajpayee in Kashmir are of April 2003, when he visited the troubled Valley. He was the first Prime Minister who had visited Jammu and Kashmir, after militancy erupted in 1989. Former Chief Minister Mehboba Mufti remembered him as “the first Prime Minister who understood the agony of Kashmiri people.”

In Srinagar rally, Vajpayee had also offered a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. The offer was reciprocated by the neighboring country, paving a way for a “composed dialogue” between the two countries, on as many as eight bilateral issues i.e., Peace and Security including CBMs, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Terrorism and Drug Trafficking.

Few months later Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Pakistan to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in January 2004. It was just five years after the Kargil battle and three years after the parliament attack.

The enthusiastic talks immediately brought the people of the two countries nearer to each other. Several steps were taken under the dialogue process. To name a few; first bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, the resumption of the bus services from Lahore to Amritsar, resumption of the train links between Munabao in Rajasthan and Khokhrapar in Sindh and the Samjhauta Express, between Delhi and Lahore were also resumed. Weekly flights between the two countries were increased from 12 to 28.

“The frequently used expression ‘Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhooriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmir's age-old legacy of amity)’ was coined by Vajpayee as the three principals to solve the Kashmir issue, during his Srinagar visit in 2003.

“It was because Vajpayee’s charismatic gentle personality that everybody trusted him in Kashmir. Though there were his opponents in his own party who did not like his Kashmir policy,” Tahir Mohidin, senior Kashmiri journalist and political commentator remarked.

Soon after the news of Vajpayee’s demise broke on Thursday, condolence massages from the political parties in Kashmir started pouring in. A large number of people on social media started remembering the towering Indian leader. Here’s a collection of some reactions on Twitter:





Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines


Published: 17 Aug 2018, 12:33 PM