Kashmiri separatists as well as opposition parties were not impressed by the Rs 80,000-crore package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, saying the PM’s visit did not address the “core political dimensions” of the Kashmir issue.
Former CM Omar Abdullah said the PM made the mistake of “weighing the Kashmir issue in rupees and paise” while separatist leaders said a political issue could not have an economic solution.
“Packages, no matter how big, cannot solve the Kashmir issue. Only a political initiative can. On this account, Modi’s visit was a case of ‘khoda pahad, nikla chooha’,” Abdullah said, adding that Modi had taken a step back instead of taking former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s legacy forward.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, however, said the participation of a large number of people in the PM’s rally vindicated the leadership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in the state.
“Even though we haven’t yet got much time to deliver on our promises and have been in the government for only eight months, the overwhelming presence of people at today’s public rally has reiterated the fact that they have tremendous faith in the leadership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and he has the commitment to deliver,” she said.
Moderate separatist leader and chairman of his faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said New Delhi had repeated the mistake of viewing Kashmir through an “economic prism”.
“Modi said Delhi’s treasuries are open for Kashmir but sadly their hearts and minds are cold for Kashmiris. Kashmir is a political issue, not an economic one. Money cannot buy Kashmiri aspirations,” he told HT.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who was detained while trying to launch his “million march”, said economic packages had not resolved the dispute over Kashmir in the past. “Modi’s visit and the economic package will not change anything, like in the past,” he said.
Commenting on Modi’s speech, Democratic Freedom Party chairman, Shabir Ahmad Shah, said economic packages could not change the destiny of the youth or empower them.
“Not even a package of trillions of rupees can change the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah said.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief GA Mir termed the PM’s package as a “political gimmick to appease his coalition partner”.
Independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid, who was recently assaulted by BJP leaders over a beef party he organised, said the PM did not do what was expected of him on the political front.
“Modi should have offered unconditional talks to all stakeholders. In fact, the PM even snubbed the chief minister by not making any positive gestures towards Pakistan,” Rashid said.