National Conference chief and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is contesting the state by-elections from Srinagar, said that the violence and loss of lives during the bypolls in the state “are a tragedy and a failure of the government of the day. They could not provide security to the people, and further, it is the present dispensation which the people reject.”
“Why am I playing with fire? Is that not true? Are the stonepelters fighting for MP-ship or MLA-ship or some ministerial post? Wake up, before it is too late,” said Abdullah, demanding that the youth deserved to be heard.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You said – Kashmiri youth are picking up guns for the freedom of Kashmir, and not for becoming legislators. As a senior statesman, shouldn’t you be bridging the gap, but almost endorsing azadi and Kashmir is lost to India?
Farooq Abdullah: Sometime ago, a Parliamentary delegation came to Kashmir under the leadership of the home minister. The delegation was told that we will talk to the youth, and all the stakeholders. Have they done so, in a single step, in the last two years? Why do you blame me?”
Q: Because you want votes, you are stirring the pot â€¦ ?
A: Wake up, wake up. The situation is quite bad, and don’t tell me Pakistan is not a party to this problem. Whether you like it or not, you have to talk to Pakistan. If you want to beat the threat of the terrorists, then you better start talking now.
Q: With what end result? All the talking, and yet terrorists are sent across border, and violence continues?
A: Let us start mending our fences, and start controlling present problem. Let’s not burn, let’s talk to the youth, Hurriyat, other leaders and come to a solution.
Q: How are talks are going to be different this time?
A: You have 8 people dead, and God knows how many injured. How long will you keep on doing this? You think it’s all law and order? Or, you think by development you can change the mind of people?”
Q: Your critics will say that this is theatrics. When you are in power you speak differently, and now you seem to be catering to separatist sentiment?
A: You are losing Kashmir. You better wake up, and start thinking on not a military solution, but a political way. And come down from your high horses…I am seeing a very bad situation. The youth is on boil. Which I have not seen before.
The situation remains tense in the Kashmir valley a day after violence and a historic low voter turnout, at 7 per cent, marred bypolls in Srinagar.
The Election Commission has postponed the bypolls in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency to May 25, 2017.
The decision came after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s brother Tasaduq Hussain Mufti, who is contesting a Parliamentary bypoll in Anantnag, appealed to the Election Commission to postpone his election.
On Sunday, 8 civilians were killed and school set on fire in Shopian, in incidences of poll violence in Kashmir.