We are treated as if we don’t belong to India: Omar


‘Kishtwar incident blown out of proportion’

Srinagar: Pained by the criticism over the communal violence in Kishtwar, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday demanded to know why Kashmiris were treated differently. 

After taking the salute and hoisting the tricolour at the Bakhshi Stadium here amid tight security, Omar Abdullah praised Kashmiris for not letting the communal trouble to take a far more serious shape.

“I want to salute the people of the state for defeating forces who wanted to spread the tensions and vitiate peace and harmony in the state,” he said.

“I am often asked why you (Kashmiris) consider yourselves separate from the country’s mainstream. I have thought over this question, but an answer was difficult to find. 

“When I found how the Kishtwar incident was exploited, I got the answer to the question.

“We are treated differently like we are not part of the mainstream,” he added. 

Omar made it clear that the Hindu-Muslim clashes in Kishtwar, which claimed three lives, deserved the “strongest condemnation”. 

He said it was sad this incident took place during his administration.

“But this is the first happening of a communal nature during the last four years I have been in power.

“Is it for the first time such a thing has happened in India? I do not want to say what happened in Kishtwar can be justified because of what happened elsewhere in the country.”

The chief minister has been upset the way the Kishtwar flare-up has been used by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to attack the Jammu and Kashmir government and Omar Abdullah per se.

He cited figures of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat during 2012 and up to March this year.  

He also spoke of the recent communal trouble in Bihar.

“I have figures of how many communal acts have happened in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, there have been thirty-four deaths due to communal violence in UP, thirteen in Maharashtra, fifteen in Madhya Pradesh, three in Karnataka, six in Rajasthan and five in Gujarat. In 2013 till March, there have been eight deaths due to communal violence in Maharashtra, one in Madhya Pradesh, two in Rajasthan, two in Gujarat,” he said.

“For God’s sake, tell me does anybody raise this issue in parliament? Did any big leader go to those places to express solidarity with the people there? How many newspaper columns were written about those incidents?

Why only make issue out of small things from Kashmir alone?” 

“You want to scrap article 370 (of the Indian constitution) to integrate (Kashmir) fully with the rest of the country, but you treat us separately.

“In fact it is you who treat the State and its people differently, consider them separate identity, deal with them in a biased manner and exhibit a peculiar mind-set towards people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

“This is the duplicity in your approach and this makes the difference. This is the why people of the Jammu and Kashmir think that they are different from rest of the Country. It is you who make them to think like this.”

Asking these national leaders to bring change in their mind set, the Chief Minister said that integration between the people of the Country and the State cannot be achieved through provisions of law or Acts but when you show same concern and extend same treatment to the State which you do for rest of the Country. “You have to shun the separate approach towards Jammu and Kashmir, you have to shun the practice of treating Jammu and Kashmir differently, you have to measure the events through one yardstick and treat Jammu and Kashmir at par with rest of the Country then you can talk of integration of hearts and minds”, he asserted. 

The chief minister also spoke of the continuing violations of the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control and the international border by Pakistani troops.

He said as long as these violations continued, peace talks between the two countries would remain affected.

Contingents of police, paramilitary and the army marched at the stadium during the parade.

Security forces were on high alert in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley.

An impregnable security ring was thrown around the Bakshi Stadium, the venue of the main independence day parade in the valley.

The stadium had been declared out of bounds for two days. All roads leading to the stadium were shut since Wednesday evening.

High rise buildings around the stadium which in the past had been used by guerrillas to fire rockets at the venue were taken over by sharpshooters.

Condemning the Kishtwar, Gool, Budgam, Banidipore and other incidents of violence, the Chief Minister said that rumours and hype regarding the unfortunate incidents fanned and propagated by peace inimical elements blew these out of proposition and tried to export violence to other parts.

He said false photographs of the Kishtwar incident were circulated to exploit the sentiments of people. He said these photographs were found to be of Burma. He said these elements tried their best to put entire State in flames for their vested interests.

The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the common masses for showing maturity and not letting the situation to go out of control. “Your cooperation has helped us to bring the situation under control and foil the designs of anti-peace elements”, he said and sought unabated cooperation of people in maintaining peace and tranquillity and carrying forward process of development in the State. He said that people of the State are committed to the harmony, brotherhood and co-existence since ages and would continue to nurture this trait.

He said enemies of the harmony have been defeated in the past and would be defeated in future also.

On Kashmir issue, the Chief Minister reiterated his stand that money or gun cannot solve the J&K-centric political issues but dialogue process is only way forward in this regard. “I am being time and again underlining K-issue as a political issue and driving home the necessity of dealing it politically”, he said and maintained that both internal and external dialogues were imperative to address the issues amicably. He said the external dimension of the issue needs to be settled with Pakistan and for addressing its internal dimension; the separatists should come forward for dialogue.

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