Sheikh Abdullah was a popular leader but still he committed unfair democratic practices: Arif Mohammad Khan

“Whole India sees Kashmir as the centre of knowledge and the highest seat of learning,” he said.
Khan, who has “close association” with J&K, said mistakes committed by some political leaders “complicated Kashmir issue”.
Khan, who has “close association” with J&K, said mistakes committed by some political leaders “complicated Kashmir issue”.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Kerela Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, who is on a visit to Kashmir, said that the abrogation of Article 370 empowered people of Jammu and Kashmir and maintained that the special status of J&K would always be there.

“People of J&K should understand that the special status is not determined by a law but a rich legacy which will never end,” Khan told Greater Kashmir in an exclusive interview. “Kashmiris will always have the special status.”

Khan, who has “close association” with J&K, said mistakes committed by some political leaders “complicated Kashmir issue”.

“Foundation of Kashmir issue was unfair elections in 1952 in which Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah rejected nomination papers of all opposition candidates. Sheikh was a popular leader and ruled the hearts of the people but still he indulged in this unfair practice,” Khan said without mincing words. 

“It was Article 370 which stopped those candidates whose nominations were rejected in 1952 to challenge it. Article 370 only empowers politicians, rulers, and bureaucrats. Pakistan and separatists tried to use the abrogation of Article 370 to show that Kashmir is an unresolved issue but failed,” he said.

Khan said Article 370 abrogation had empowered people of J&K and made politicians and bureaucrats accountable. Since 1947, plan expenditure of J&K is six times more than the rest of the states and union territories in the country.

“Minds are changing, situation will normalise, and statehood too will be restored gradually. Kashmir isn’t known for values of politics but Rishiyat, its traditions, lifestyle and no one can snatch it,” he said.

After students complete graduation in Sanskrit universities in Banaras, Khan said they have to mandatorily march eight steps towards the direction of Kashmir and then they will get a degree.

“Whole India sees Kashmir as the centre of knowledge and the highest seat of learning,” he said.

Khan said Kashmiris were peace-loving people.

“As an outsider, about 13-14 years ago, I was invited to an RSS convention in Nagpur on its last day. I met two Kashmiri leaders. I told them that Kashmiris are peace-loving and that they believe in tolerance and are known for hospitality and we committed some mistakes and Pakistan used some of them. They were surprised to hear me,” he said.

Elaborating, Khan said, “Kashmiris were afraid of even knives.”

“I was Minister of States Home Affairs in 1985. The internal security division was under me. In Central Jail in Srinagar, there was a staff of over 200 and there were just 15-20 prisoners including under-trials. Kashmiris didn’t know of any crime. We cannot wholly blame Kashmiris for the present situation, but now there is a need to reach out to them and remove their confusion,” he said.

Khan praised Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha and termed him a people-centric man.

“He (LG Sinha) is a sensitive and honest person. He has been working hard for the development and peace of J&K,” he said.

Khan hit out at Pakistan blaming it for the “trouble” in J&K.

“It is a fact that every Indian treats Kashmir as a jewel in India’s crown. Kashmir should have been our leader and there shouldn’t be a deficit of democracy. Pakistan got divided in 1971 due to its internal problems and since then its leadership is unsuccessfully using the Kashmir issue to take revenge from India,” he said.

Khan said that majority of the people of Kashmir want development.

“Kashmir will have thriving democracy and New Delhi is committed to take Kashmiris along. Kashmiris are extremely talented and they only need exposure and platform. The Centre will ensure overall development of Kashmir and make it one of the top Information Technology hubs. It is an era of global village and time is ripe to end differences and work together to make Kashmir a paradise again,” he said.

The Kerala Governor is scheduled to attend a Sufi Conference at SKICC organised by GSPFB on Saturday. “I love Kashmir and its people. I support every such move which is aimed at promoting Kashmir,” he said.

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