SRINAGAR Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday blamed the media outside the state for demonising the situation in Kashmir causing a lot of hardships to the local people.
Addressing a press conference here, Malik said: “In my state (Uttar Pradesh), people are killed everyday. Tourists are daily looted on the Meerut highway. There is no news about these incidents. But Kashmiris are demonised even if a hat falls here.”
The Governor expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of the Lok Sabha elections in the state and said he was proud of the people for that.
However, he regretted that the mainstream political failed to persuade people to vote in the Lok Sabha polls. “I can ask them what has been the percentage of voting in these elections? They (mainstream parties) have failed to get people to vote,” he said.
He said he tried his best to persuade the local parties to participate in the panchayat polls too, but they did not agree. “Yet we conducted the elections to empower the people at the grassroots,” he added.
The Governor — who heads the anti-militancy grid called the Unified Headquarters in the state — also spoke about militancy in Kashmir.
He asked militants to give up arms and invited them to hold talks, saying dialogue is the only way through which they can get what they want within the ambit of the Constitution.
He said India cannot be made to bow through violence.
“Take everything from us, we will give our life, but through love and dialogue. For that (PM) Narendra Modi is ready, we are ready. Come to the dialogue table and take it forward,” Malik said at a marathon press briefing on the achievements of his administration.
“Whatever you want can be achieved through talks and dialogue. You have your own constitution, you have a separate flag. Whatever more you want, you will get it through the democratic process and within the ambit of the Indian Constitution,” he said.
The governor said the militants may not realise it now, but 10 years down the line they will repent that they chose the wrong path.
“You cannot make India to bow through violence,” he said.
Malik said the problem of militancy exists in Kashmir not only due to unemployment among youth, but also because politicians have been misleading the people for the past several decades.
“There is unemployment across the country but unemployed people (elsewhere) in the country do not pick up weapons against the government. There is something more here. The basic thing here is that the leaders have not told people the truth. People have been misled and shown false dreams, which will never be fulfilled,” he said.
Malik said the people have been shown the dream of ‘azadi’ (independence) and sometimes that of autonomy.
“When these things did not work, they were shown the dreams of paradise through radicalisation. I want to tell the youth that they have two paradises — one is Kashmir and if they become good Muslims, they will get the other one also,” he said.
Speaking about the presence of the Islamic State in Kashmir, the governor said, “These are ways of destruction of Kashmir.”
Malik exhorted the youth to give up arms.
“I want to tell the youth of Kashmir, drop your guns and come to Raj Bhawan to have lunch with me. Then explain to me what good Kashmir will get from the path you have chosen,” he said.
Malik called on the political leaders to help bring back the youth to the mainstream society.
“They have to muster the courage and tell them. I request the mainstream leaders, preachers and intelligentsia to bring back these youth (to the mainstream) and whatever is needed for their rehabilitation, we will do it,” he said.
“In every insurgency, there comes a time when fatigue sets in. That time has come in Kashmir,” he added.
Asked about Pakistan’s role in the situation in Kashmir, Malik said the neighbouring country is in trouble.
“There is a realisation (in Pakistan) there that we cannot fool the youth of Kashmir for too long (saying) that we will break India to give you something. (Gen Pervez) Musharraf had told the (Kashmiri) leaders here that he cannot do it as India is a superpower,” he said.
“Whatever you want to get, take it within this system. There is demoralisation and fatigue factor in Pakistan, but still they do not give up, camps are running there as earlier,” he said.
Malik said the security forces are alert and infiltrators are dealt with within 10 kilometres of the Line of Control.
“Recruitment (of militants) has come down. A big reason for that is that we have adopted a sympathetic attitude towards our youth. I believe that the Kashmir problem will be solved through these youth only,” he said.
“Talks with leaders cannot do it as they have been lying to the people for past 50 years,” he added.
Asked about the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the time to hold the polls will be decided by the Election Commission (EC).
“It is between the Union Home Ministry and the Election Commission. I cannot comment on this. If the security we require for holding elections is provided to us, we are ready to hold the elections. We have held peaceful elections (panchayat and parliamentary) but for assembly elections, the security requirements are different,” he said.
The EC will decide the dates after going through the assessment of the security environment made by the concerned agencies, he said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, who was also present at the briefing along with advisors to the governor, said the EC has given a unanimous statement that an announcement about assembly elections in the state will be made after the Amarnath Yatra.
Responding to a question about the challenge to Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, Malik said promises to this effect have been made in the manifestos of many political parties and there is a lot of talk about it, but there is “nothing to worry about” on this front.
He also dismissed the reports about delimitation of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir as “rumours”.
“There is a rumour about delimitation, it is not something that can be done overnight as it is a constitutional matter. Even the Home Ministry has not confirmed that they are doing something like this. There are basically just rumours and newspaper reports only, there is no basis to these,” he said. (With Inputs From PTI)