Kashmiris are demanding secession from India and not jobs or economic development, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Thursday and slammed the government for its failure to handle the unrest in the Kashmir Valley that has seen 64 people killed since June 11.
During a debate in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi asked Home Minister P Chidambaram to tell Kashmiris unambiguously that their demand of "azadi (freedom) or autonomy is not viable".
"Kashmir is an integral part of India and no force in the world will take it away from India," Joshi said, starting his speech with a flourish with his party colleagues thumping the desks.
"You say there are genuine grievances. I ask what they are. Is India sending forces there... are we occupying Kashmir? What are the grievances? I don't see any grievances other than the demand of azadi... If that is what you call genuine grievance, then please tell them clearly that azadi or autonomy is not possible, is not viable," he said.
This triggered an uproar in the house with National Conference MPs Sharifuddin Shariq and Mehboob Beg objecting to Joshi's remarks.
It took Speaker Meira Kumar some time to convince the National Conference MPs to go back to their seats and speak when called to.
Joshi asked the government not to pump money into Jammu and Kashmir and referred to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani's statement mocking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's all-party meeting.
"Geelani has said he doesn't give importance to these meetings because such meetings cannot bring independence of Kashmir," he said, asking the home minister to elaborate what kind of dialogue he has offered to "all shades of opinion in Kashmir".
"Kashmiris say 'we want freedom from India'... If this is the problem, how are you going to solve it? What will be the framework of the dialogue you have offered?"
If the government was considering autonomy to the state, it should also think what would happen to the northeast, Joshi said.
"Show some courage and tell them that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there could be no compromise on that," the BJP leader said, advocating abrogation of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The debate in the Lok Sabha was held against the backdrop of the latest unrest in the Kashmir Valley in which 64 people have been killed in over two months.
Joshi said the government had pumped Rs 94,000 crore into the state that represents "merely one or two percent of our population".
"And imagine one or two percent of population getting 10-12 percent from our budget," he said, alleging that the state was being ruled by a corrupt administration.
"If local leaders are eating away the money, why are they abusing India?" he asked.