Farooq to New Delhi: ‘Wake up, talk to Pakistan or lose Kashmir’
Former chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah has said that New Delhi could lose Kashmir valley if it doesn't find a political solution to the dispute.
In an interview with India Today on Monday evening, Abdullah said the violence and loss of lives during the Srinagar by-poll "are a tragedy and a failure of the government of the day."
The former chief minister, who is contesting the state by-elections from Srinagar, lamented that the Indian government had failed to provide security to the people of Kashmir.
"Why am I playing with fire? Is that not true? Are the stone pelters fighting for MP-ship or MLA-ship or some ministerial post? Wake up, before it is too late," said Abdullah.
When asked if he should be bridging the gap between Kashmir and India instead of 'almost endorsing azadi,' Abdullah responded: "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?"
Responding to the allegation he was stirring the pot to get votes, Abdullah said: "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."
The National Conference chief stressed that it was time to mend fences, and control the present problem. "Let's not burn, let's talk to the youth, Hurriyat, [and] other leaders and come to a solution," he said. "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?"
When asked why Abdullah was catering to the separatist sentiment now when he chose to spoke differently when in power, he responded: "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 seven percent, marred by-polls in Srinagar. The Election Commission has postponed the by-polls in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency to May 25, 2017.
At least eight civilians were killed in firing by government forces and over a hundred injured on Sunday in incidences of poll violence in Kashmir.