It is important for New Delhi to acknowledge that the genesis of Kashmir turmoil lies in "injustice of August 1953 when a popular, democratically-elected Prime Minister of J&K was illegally overthrown to suppress the political sentiment" in Kashmir, former J&K Chief Minister and National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Dr Farooq Abdullah said while it was heartening to see that "certain central leaders in New Delhi now talking about the political nature of the Kashmir problem, it is a pity that the same leaders chose to not lend their voice of support when the Interlocutors' Report and the Sagheer Committee Report were available for discussion and implementation."
"Those central leaders in New Delhi who are advocating a political solution to the Kashmir issue today have traditionally acquiesced with the conventional, tried and tested formulations of an operational handling of the issue. Their stand today is welcome and a positive development and I hope they don't go back to the conventional policy of validating an operational handling of the issue when seeking a political resolution might become less expedient for them," Abdullah said.
He said every phase of political unrest in Kashmir, including the present, is a "manifestation of a prolonged, systemic erosion of faith in Kashmir." "What happened on the 9th of August 1953 continues to remind the people of Kashmir about how New Delhi has chosen to either suppress the political sentiment here or deal with it through an operational prism with a perpetually short-sighted, fire-fighting policy. Unless the root cause of the political instability and alienation in Kashmir is addressed constitutionally and politically, crushing the sentiment by use of force is not only futile but also highly counterproductive," he said.
Dr Farooq, while welcoming parliamentary discussions on the present situation in Kashmir, said the Parliament needs to "acknowledge and understand the root cause of alienation and unrest in Kashmir and accepting the criminal nature of the injustice perpetrated against the people of J&K on August 9th, 1953 would be a good start to an open-ended, broad-minded introspection at the national level."
"Prevarication and deflection of responsibility won't help anymore. The problem in Kashmir is about people of Kashmir and their political aspirations—neither about any other country nor about terrorism. New Delhi has to engage with the people of Kashmir who are the primary stakeholders in the political issue and also the rightful final arbiters of their destiny. A sustained, comprehensive political dialogue on Kashmir between New Delhi and Islamabad is equally indispensable not only for a feasible and long-lasting resolution of the vexed Kashmir issue, but also for the cause of sustainable peace and stability in the subcontinent," Dr Farooq said.
The Prime Minister, he said, should personally lead an initiative of political outreach towards the people of Kashmir and "realize how every passing day of silence and inaction pushes the youth of Kashmir further away from the idea of India and fuels the growing sense of disenchantment in their hearts and minds." "This is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated political dispute in the entire world and can be outsourced to neither the Home Ministry nor the Defense Ministry nor the bureaucracy in New Delhi. The Prime Minister is morally and politically obligated to deal with this issue personally and politically with a sense of justice, history and empathy. There can be no alternative to the issue being addressed by the Prime Minister directly," he said.
The National Conference President, according to the statement, expressed his heartfelt solidarity with families of young men who have lost their lives in the current unrest, saying their loss is "unimaginable and inconsolable."
"There has been a clear pattern of an excessive use of lethal force against protesters. The situation is saddening and heart-rending and is worsening with each passing day. A prolonged phase of political inaction could lead us to disastrous consequences," he warned.