Delhi Setting Different Yardstick For J&K: Omar

  • Accession to India was on three subjects: Omar
  • Internal, external dimensions of K-issue recognized fact
  • Cramming of ‘Atoot Ang’ will not change importance of K-issue resolution
  • Working Groups representing all political parties recommend AFSPA revocation

JAMMU: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday lashed out at the Congress-led central government over the arrest of alleged militant Sayed Liyaqat Shah and accused it of adopting double standards with regard to Afzal Guru case. 

Omar, whose party is part of UPA government at the Centre, accused it of setting different yardstick for Jammu and Kashmir. Omar also used another strong speech in the State Assembly to reiterate his demand of revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFPSA from the Valley.

In his about 90 minutes extempore speech while replying the discussion on motion on grants for the departments under his control in Legislative Assembly today, Omar said Afzal Guru’s hanging was a “matter of pick and choose”, while other convicts facing death sentence have been measured by “different yardsticks”.

While lamenting the attitude of the central government, the chief minister said he is faced with a volley of questions on the issue as to why only Afzal Guru was hanged “out of turn” while others on the same list were being dealt differently.

Giving historical background of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday said that those who repeatedly cram that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India (Atoot Ang) forget that the accession was only on three subjects of communication-currency, defence and foreign affairs, which was gradually eroded.

“Nobody has challenged the accession. Tell me who has challenged it”, he said adding that relation between Jammu and Kashmir and the Union of India was built after deep thinking and its maintenance and strengthening is the duty of both the sides.

Chief Minister in his speech said that it is also a fact that political issue of Jammu and Kashmir with internal and external dimensions exists and all the Union Governments right from 1971 either headed by BJP, Janta Dal or Congress have recognized this issue. And this does not at all constitute any challenge to the accession of the State to the Union of India. “If we talk of the necessity of resolving this political issue having Indo-Pak external dimension and internal dimension between the Union of India and the State, do we cease to be Indians? How does it amount to challenging accession”, he questioned and said that by talking about Kashmir issue is not in any way making us to cease to be citizens of India or challenging the State to be part of the Country.

“Those who repeatedly talk about the Kashmir being integral part of Union of India are responding to whom? Has any member of the House questioned it?” he asked and said that for the resolution of political issues of Jammu and Kashmir various viewpoints and formulas have been given by different political parties which includes Autonomy Report projected and piloted by National Conference, Self-Rule proposal of PDP and Indira-Sheikh Accord of Congress. “The Kashmir issue exists and no one can deny it. It is not necessary we agree with each other’s viewpoints but at the end of the day we all want to address this political issue and resolve it amicably”, he said.

“By repeating the word of ‘Atoot Ang’ (Integral Part) time and again, you cannot change the status of political issue of Jammu and Kashmir. To change the scenario you have to win over the hearts of people of Jammu and Kashmir. I have always said that Kashmir will be true part of India when you win over the hearts of the people and care for their hopes and aspirations. If you will reject them there will be alienation. Every Kashmiri is not Pakistani. When they get rejected they resort to raising such slogans which they do not believe by heart and they do it to give vent to their anger. If you think that Kashmir civil society had no effect of Afzal Guru’s hanging, you are wrong. They are not so naive. They seek reply from me for the different treatment meted out to Verrapan gang members, killers of Punjab Chief Minister and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi vis-a-vis Afzal Guru. I have no reply for them but some day we all have to give them reply”, he said and mentioned the necessity of imposing curfew in the Valley to safeguard the lives of the people.

“It was not easy decision for me to impose curfew but I will not apologise for it because this measure helped me to safeguard the life and property of innocent people”, he said adding that he may regret for the difficulties people have to face for some days and newspapers did not hit the stalls. “I had categorically told the Central Government about the consequences of hanging of Afzal Guru in Kashmir Valley but they did not agree with my viewpoint and I had no option. Had I possessed the power of signing on the death warrant of Afzal Guru, I would have acted on my own way”, he said urging upon the Central Government to also show the strength and negate those who oppose lifting of AFSPA in selective areas in the State on the plea that it will have negative effect.

“If you can disagree with my assertion that Afzal Guru’s hanging will effect peace process in the State, why can’t you show same resolve in the matter of revocation of AFSPA vis-a-vis those who opposite”, he said that revocation of AFSPA has been recommended by the Working Group on Confidence Building Measures and Working Group on State-Centre Relations headed by Justice Sageer. He said all the major political parties including those who oppose revocation of AFSPA at present were represented in these two Working Groups constituted by Prime Minister.

Omar Abdullah mentioning the recommendation No. 1.3 of Working Group-I and quoted, “Certain laws made operational during the period of militancy (e.g. Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Disturbed Areas Act) impinge on fundamental rights of citizens and adversely affect the public. They should be reviewed and revoked. Law and order matters should be dealt with to the maximum extent possible, through normal laws”.

The Chief Minister also mentioned the recommendation of Working Group-V, “the Central and State Governments have taken all possible steps to restore normalcy in the State. The application of laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is directly related to the extent to which the ground situation is stable or otherwise, and therefore this question would need to be carefully examined periodically by a nominated group of senior officers representing the Government of India (Ministry of Home Affairs/Ministry of Defence/Army Headquarters/Intelligence, etc) and the State Government together with a nominated group of peoples representatives from the State Legislature and Parliament. This Group will also review the application of this Act to various parts of the State regularly on a district by district and Tehsil by Tehsil basis, to explore the possibility whether this Act can be withdrawn on an experimental basis from any such part of the State, keeping in mind that the armed forces have played a vital, commendable positive role”, he said and asked the Union Government to show courage to revoke AFSPA from the areas where it is no longer needed.

Omar Abdullah said that the fidayeen attack at Bemina is a glaring example for those who oppose AFSPA revocation because this attack took place even in presence of AFSPA law and CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police who deal with law and order and militancy simultaneously, combated the attack successfully and killed the militants in which five brave personnel of CRPF were martyred.

Omar Abdullah said, he would continue to pitch for gradual revocation of AFSPA as he is confident that it would be for the interest of the State and the Country. “I have been asked by my critics that if Government of India does not recognize and agree to me on this issue then I should leave the power. What service will it serve”, he maintained and said that in power he is in a better position to bat for revocation of AFSPA with authority and vehemently which he could not do otherwise.

The Chief Minister rejected the impression being created that police personnel have been deprived of necessary arms and ammunition. “It is not true. They are operating under a mutually agreed upon SOP and always remain equipped with the necessary required ammunition when on law and order duty”, he said that Army is not dealing with law and order situation. 

On arrest of Syed Layqat Shah, Omar Abdullah said that he had asked the Union Home Minister to get this issue probed by NIA in a time bound manner to establish the facts. He said that Union Home Minister has handed over the issue to NIA to probe. He said Rehabilitation Policy has been introduced by the State Government with the approval of the Central Government and has so for shown good results.    

Responding to Engineer Rashid’s statement that separatists should be tackled politically, Omar Abdullah said that he has always been dealing with them politically and will continue to do so. “But it is they who do not want to deal with the government on political grounds but resort to stone pelting and violence”, he said mentioning a statement of top separatist leader justifying stone pelting when an innocent auto driver of South Kashmir lost his life through the hands of stone pelters. “Show me one instance when police used force against peaceful protestors. They only deal strictly with stone pelters and those who resort to violence”, he added and said that separatist leaders are marring the economic avenues of common people and are bent upon disturbing peace.

Omar Abdullah said that people want peace, jobs, economic and trade activities. “They want to send their children to schools, tourism to flourish and development take place all across the State”, he said adding that they also want political resolution of political issues of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful and amicable atmosphere and ‘we are addressing both’.

Taking a dig on the boycott of largest single opposition party (PDP), Omar Abdullah said that instead of issuing press notes, making their viewpoints public through print and electronic media they could have utilized their right to represent people and put forth their points across through debates in the legislature. “Their leader is talking of choking of voice of public representatives. Who has choked their voice? They have always spoken freely and ruthlessly in the Assembly. They have criticised the government. Nobody has asked them to remain away from the legislature”, he said adding that if the PDP legislators think that they are public representatives to raise their issues, they should do it in the Assembly. He also appealed them to end the boycott and be part of the proceedings of legislature for the larger interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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