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Muslim character of J&K must remain intact: Soz

Kashmiris have had no communal angle in their politics when they fought for independence, says Saifuddin Soz.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2002 16:05 IST

Q: How do you see the Kashmir problem and its emergence? Who is responsible for the mess?

SS: Delhi's political bureaucracy brought havoc in Kashmir from the very begining. It was in 1952 that discussions took place between Kashmir leaders and the Union Government culminating in what is known as Delhi Agreement. An atmoshere of bickering was created during those fateful discussions and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's perceptions and compulsions were not appreciated. It is no longer a secret that Praja Parishad's tirade against Kashmir leader in 1952 had the full backing from Delhi albeit surreptiously.

In 1953 Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was dissmissed in August 1953 unconstitutionally which was later accepted as the greatest tragedy that could occur to the relationship between the Government of India and Jammu and Kashmir.

Q: Has presence of security forces compounded the problem?

SS: It is not only bullets that have been the lot of the people in Jammu and Kashmir, but the disinformation about their character as a people is being spread deliberately to malign them. Armed militancy is something different. Security forces have to fight militancy but what about common people? They have suffered immense miseries.

Q: To what extent has religion precipitated the problem in the valley?

SS: Kashmiris have had no communal angle to their politics and in the past when they fought for independence, it was always on secular lines. The tragedy is that New Delhi never appreciated this in ample measure.

Q: Do you think there is a solution to the Kashmir problem?

SS: Yes, Kashmir should receive right kind of signals. Even now there is some possibility that we may succeed in salvaging the situation without destabilising India or Pakistan. It is not a question of salvaging the situation for India or Pakistan but retrieving the situation for Kashmiris.

The only option with the Government of India right now is to organise an effective dialogue with politicians of all hues, but, primarily the dialogue has to be with the militants. Government should not be afraid of the number of militant outfits as they can finally become a manageable number of major groupings.

Dialogue should be unconditional and at nobody's terms and without any pre-conditions. Apart from militants Government should initiate talks with imminent people who have a sound knowledge of Kashmir. When a dialogue takes place without pre-conditions the participants may ultimately come to an acceptable mean.

Whatever be the level of militancy and whatever be the number of guns I am deeply concerned about the bullet for bullet policy. It is no answer to the situation of strife created by the security forces.

Q: What is your opinion on the demand for trifurcation of J&K by some groups?

SS: I think that the muslim majority character of the state must remain intact. Nothing should be done deliberately to strengthen suspicion among the minds of Kashmiri Muslims. In my opinion the internal autonomy for Laddakh and the regional autonomy for Jammu will have to be woven into a broader political structure.

Q: What can the Government do to heal the wounds of ordinary Kashmiris?

SS: I think the government should appoint a Commission of inquiry consisting of three Supreme Court Judges to look into the question unprecedented attrocities committed against the innocent people during the turbulent years. The proposed Commission should also look into the question of mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits who have suffered and continue to suffer as desperate migrants.

First Published: Sep 19, 2002 20:33 IST