Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said any initiative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may take to resolve the current crisis in the Valley could calm tempers but not if it is not followed up.
He agreed with former Union home minister P Chidambaram’s views that the Centre had broken promises on issues that formed the state’s accession to India, saying they have been “dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“It will help. It will definitely calm tempers but there will be far more suspicion today than a few years ago. Because if it is not followed through, every time a problem like this arises, then it becomes more difficult to bring an end to it,” he told Karan Thapar on India Today TV.
He was replying to a question whether a grand initiative by the Prime Minister could normalise the situation in the Valley.
Asked about the statement of Chidambaram who had said that New Delhi had ignored the grand bargain under which Kashmir acceded to India, Omar said, “Absolutely. For want of better set of words, India has actually been dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir because you struck a deal.
“You struck a bargain. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on the basis of certain conditions, which is that the Union of India will be responsible for currency, communication, defence and foreign affairs everything else will be the domain of the state.
“On the basis of those conditions Jammu and Kashmir would remain a part of India. Jammu and Kashmir to this date remains a part of India, how much of those conditions have you actually fulfilled. You have gradually whittled that away to the point that autonomy is a fig leaf to what it was in 1947. So he is not wrong,” Omar said.
However, he regretted that immediately after Chidambaram remarks, Congress came out with a statement that they were the personal views of the former home minister. “Here is a person who is talking out of box and is ready to take the first knock and we pull him down,” he said.
Omar said the ongoing unrest cannot be compared with 2008 or 2010 agitations. “In 2008, we had a land row and in 2010, the outbreak was because of a fake encounter done by the army.
But in 2016 there is no such demand. It is just plain anger. “Even the young boys of the age of 8-10 years have no fear and that is the worst,” he said.
He said Pakistan has always been fishing in troubled waters. “It is nothing new. If you are saying Pakistan is responsible, then I am sorry. We are doing the same mistake.”
He said people are ready to set aside old memories provided “we are ready to sit and solve the problem”.
On controversial AFSPA, Omar said, “I don’t know how the army has become a villain. Army has always maintained that they don’t want to stay permanently and want to go back to barracks. But they oppose withdrawal of draconian law and also any reduction. So this is a contradictory stand.”
He said more than a political will, it takes courage to take bold steps which was lacking in the previous UPA government. “May be UPA at that time was facing several problems. May be they did not want to open another front,” he said.
About the statement made by Chidambaram that the Union cabinet was divided on the withdrawal of AFSPA, he said, “I know that the then defence ministers (Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony) were opposed to it and the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) had not firmed up his mind.
“There was strong opposition from the army but political courage could have overtaken that opposition,” he said and added that between him and Chidambaram, they were successful in removing 35 to 40 bunkers from the city.
“I am not saying that the army’s concerns should not be addressed but at the same time elected representatives in a democracy must have courage to carry forward its decisions with conviction,” he said.
“The Centre swings into action only when there is a fire in Kashmir. At that point they promise everything but when the situation is normal, they forget everything. By announcing a package of Rs 80,000 crore, centre should not think that it can buy out anti-India sentiments.
“The Prime Minister while addressing a rally said he knew everything about Kashmir problem. If you know everything then everything is over. Nothing to be discussed and the problem should be at his door rather than anyone else’s,” the former chief minister said.