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'PM has put Govt's credibility on line of fire'

Omar Abdullah says prime minister has put his Govt's credibility on line of fire by facilitating PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2007 19:19 IST
Arun Joshi

National Conference President Omar Abdullah says that prime minister has put his government's credibility on line of fire by facilitating a "face saver" for PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at the "cost of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."

Reflecting on the rapid political developments triggered by PDP's call for "demilitarisation" or "troops' reduction", Omar Abdullah who is head of the main opposition party in Jammu and Kashmir is worried on two counts.

"Prime Minister's Office is constituting a committee to study the demand of demilitarisation and has offered a face saver to Mufti Sayeed, which he was desperately looking for after having raised a pitch on the issue," he told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

This, he said, has quintessentially taken the matter out of the hands of the unified command in Jammu and Kashmir.

Omar Abdullah said, while Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was vocal, prime minister gave in writing, and there were two voices emanating from the Government of India one talking of committee and Defence Minister AK Antony saying, "demilitarisation is a dream."

"I can understand if the two voices emerge out of the state and the central governments, but Government of India talking in two voices is incomprehensible. I am not worried about chief minister's credibility. It is the credibility of prime minister that is at stake now," Omar Abdullah said.

Once again, he said, Mufti Sayeed has shifted the matter to the Centre, like he did in the case of the release of prisoners. "Centre formed a committee and the whole process was centralised. What deputy commissioners used to do during our times (NC rule 1996-2002), was placed into the bureaucratic hands in the Centre. As a result the whole process came to a halt," he regretted and the people were deprived of relief which they were getting earlier.

Omar said that National Conference is very clear on the issue. Jammu and Kashmir is neither a state like Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, where a unilateral decision can be taken. The state shares borders with China and Pakistan and unless these two countries demilitarise from the borders, it is not possible for India to demilitarise.

"And as far as relocation of troops and sending them back to barracks is concerned, National Conference already placed it on record at the two Round Table Conferences on Kashmir last year. We were the ones to ask for it, while they (PDP) were harping on ambiguous self-rule."

The main opposition party, which is single largest political group in the state legislative assembly, had asked for the troops visibility to be brought down to pre-1989 level and also for vacation of agricultural and horticultural lands, government and institutional buildings by security forces.

" We want a complete moratorium on the acquisition of land by security forces. Secondly, there should be reversal of the trend in which they illegally occupied the land and buildings," Omar said.