‘SHEIKH’S ENVOY ACCEPTED JK’S ACCESSION IN 1970’

Fotedar Bares It All, Says Working Groups, Interlocutors Just A Damage Control Move

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, June 20: Refusing to budge from his stand, senior Congress leader and member of its Central Working Committee, Makhan Lal Fotedar, Thursday made some startling revelations by claiming that Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg accepted accession and its implications in 1970, which laid the foundation of talks for Indira-Abdullah accord.
In an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir, Fotedar said he has met Mirza Afzal Beg, one of the close confidants of Sheikh, four times. “I met Beg in jail on November 30, 1970. He and Sheikh were together in prison. I remember exactly what Beg told me about accession. He told me that he stands by the accession with all its implications.”
Fotedar said and on February 6, 1971, Beg issued a press release in which same lines were written— “I stand by the accession with all its implications.” “These lines were written in the second paragraph of the release.” The Congress leader said Beg’s statement laid the foundation for 1975 accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
“Beg talked on behalf of Sheikh and G Parthasathy represented Indira ji. The parleys remained on for four years which later culminated with 1975 accord.”
“Sheikh was released in 1975. He stressed he should be given a Prime Ministerial status. We told him it was not possible,” the Congress leader said. “Later Sheikh accepted there can be only one Prime Minster in a country. I was one of the many leaders who congratulated him for becoming the Chief Minister of J&K.”
Fotedar said Congress vacated Ganderbal Assembly seat for Sheikh in 1975. “Beg also demanded a place in the Assembly. We gave him Anantnag seat,” he said.
Asked what actually the 1975 accord was as National Conference claims that the pact calls for restoration of autonomy, Fotedar said the agreement doesn’t guarantee any autonomy for the State. “It guarantees that the special status of J&K by virtue of Article 370 will remain intact,” he said.
He said when Sheikh became the Chief Minister of J&K in 1975, the development was an attestation of whatever had happened from 1953 to 1975 was acceptable to him. On Sheikh’s son, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal’s claim that there was no signature of his father on 1975 accord, Fotedar said nobody’s signatures were needed for the pact. “Why did Sheikh took oath as Chief Minister? Everybody knows what words a person has to repeat while taking oath as Chief Minister,” he explained.
On the mood of the people of Kashmir, he said people of Kashmir are citizens of a State similar to Maharashtra and Rajasthan. “People here have acknowledged that they want a better future. They have understood that there is no question of plebiscite or autonomy,” he said.
On why there was Article 370 when the State is no different than other States of India, Fotedar said: “Article 370 is there because nobody can change the territorial status of J&K. In Maharashtra, or in Rajasthan, we can add or delete the territories but not in J&K.”
Asked whether he supports PDP’s self-rule proposal, Fotedar said J&K is already witnessing self-rule. “Government is being elected by people. Same government rules them. This is self-rule,” he said.
Asked why the Congress withdrew support from NC in 1977, Fotedar said the support was withdrawn on the directions of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who was the Congress party in-charge. “We had come to know that NC people had started to buy Congress leaders, which was unacceptable for us. This is why we withdrew the support,” he said.
To a query what triggered armed resistance in 1990 in J&K, he said Pakistan played its part in instigating the people of Kashmir which forced youth to cross over for arms training. Fotedar also blamed NC President Farooq Abdullah for rigging 1987 elections which led to the defeat of Muslim United Front (MUF). “Farooq nay 1987 main kya kuch nahi kiya,” Fotedar said.
Asked if Kashmir was not an issue, why did the Prime Minister form Working Groups and why the then Prime Minister P V Narshima Rao made an announcement that “sky is the limit,” Fotedar said the WGs were formed to streamline development and Centre’s financial assistance in J&K.
“There was no clue of the funds released by the Centre and that’s why WGs were formed. As far ‘sky is the limit’ statement made by Narshima Rao, that was in context of development, not Kashmir resolution,” Fotedar claimed.
He also said that the appointment of interlocutors in 2010 and the statement made by former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that Kashmir was “a unique issue that needed a unique solution” was a “damage control exercise.” “The government here was not able to control the situation, that’s why such moves were taken,” he said.
About revocation of controversial AFSPA, Fotedar said the Act is not for the people of Kashmir but for the infiltrators. “Yes, they (Army) sometimes kill suspects, which is not good,” he said and evaded the question whether the Act should be lifted.
On why separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani is persistently under house arrest, Fotedar didn’t give a straight answer. “Geelani is my brother. We were in Assembly for 10 long years,” he said.

KHALID GUL ADDS FROM ANANTNAG:
Makhan Lal Fotedar Thursday said that his party will form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Congress will for sure come to power and form the next government,” Fotedar said while speaking to media persons here.
Fotedar however, said that coalition was inevitable in the state. “It is a fact that no political party including Congress can ever form the government on its own in the state,” he said.
Asked to opine on the possible pre-poll alliance with NC, he said: “It is not my prerogative to comment over the issue. Party will take the call over it at an appropriate time.”
Fotedar termed the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Program (PMRP) as an achievement of Congress. “Bringing PMRP to JK is the major achievement of Congress and no other political party can take credit for it,” he said.
Fotedar also took on the state government for allegedly poor implementation of Rehabilitation Policy for Kashmiri Pandits.
“I have met several Pandits. They have genuine complaints and state government has not been able to address them,” said Fotedar.
Fotedar visited Martand temple in Mattan and also paid obeisance at the Shrine of Shaikh Zain-u-Din Wali (RA) in Aishmuqam. He later visited Pahalgam and met various delegations there.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST




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