National Conference president and Member Parliament Farooq Abdullah said Saturday India should not treat Kashmiris as slaves and that Kashmir's independence was not possible as the landlocked region is surrounded by three nuclear powers China, Pakistan and India.
"Independence is no option. On one side we have nuclear powers China and Pakistan and on other India. And all have atom bombs. We have nothing except the name of Allah. We have no atom bombs, no army and no jets," Abdullah told a gathering at Mandi in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
"How are we going to survive (as an independent nation)?"
However, the three-time chief minister of the state said Kashmiris were not slaves of India and that the country must respect their honour and dignity.
"Unless and until you give us back the respect, the situation in Kashmir won't change. They (India) can't buy us with money even if they build golden roads. They must win hearts and minds of people," he said.
The former union minister said the dispute over Kashmir could be resolved by winning hearts of people and ending their sufferings, not by the use of gun.
"Our nation is not going to Pakistan. Their (Pakistan's) condition is such that they are not able to handle themselves," Abdullah told the gathering, referring to the people of Kashmir.
Criticising New Delhi, he said Kashmir issue was political in nature and the claims that demonitisation had ended stone pelting in the valley were proven wrong with the Kashmiri youth "now taking to guns", according to a party statement Saturday.
"The situation therefore cannot be allowed to drift anymore," the statement said.
Abdullah also cautioned Delhi against taking Kashmiri people for granted and ignoring their "legitimate aspirations."
The NC president blamed the PDP-BJP government in the state for failing on delivery of services.
"Lack of accountability and misgovernance have added to the miseries of the people, who are feeling let down on every front," he said. GKNN