Srinagar, Dec 01: Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Prof. Saif-ud-Din Soz on Tuesday alleged that BJP is promoting separatism in Jammu and Kashmir by pushing mainstream parties to the wall. He added if New Delhi wishes to come out from prevailing uncertainty, there is no option left behind except to initiate a meaningful dialogue with mainstream parties of J&K.
While speaking with a national daily, Prof. Soz said dialogue with mainstream political parties at this juncture is imperative if New Delhi wishes to restore peace and normalcy in J&K. “The present situation demands a dialogue between the Central Government and the mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir”, he said and added “Unfortunately they are talking against mainstream political outfits, day in and day out”.
Prof Soz further added that New Delhi is unwittingly encouraging separatism in Kashmir by pushing mainstream parties to the wall.
When asked how do you see the present situation in J&K, the senior Congress leader said that there is a group of bureaucrats who is ruling on J&K because New Delhi does not seem to have policy about J&K.
“New Delhi lacks a substantial policy about Kashmir. Bureaucrats have been brought from outside J&K who are ruling on us. It is groping in the dark. The abrogation of Article 370 will remain unacceptable for people of J&K. At present people are subdued but they are angry. But GOI doesn’t care about all this! I think it is because BJP have not been a party to build this relation between J&K and the Union of India”, he said and added, “The people of J&K had joined a secular India but India is not quite a secular country now”.
About ensuing DDC polls, the senior Congress leader said that “I think the Central Government is not enthusiastic about holding assembly election here in the near future. As far as the DDC elections are concerned, parties like NC and PDP have said that their workers are being stopped from running poll campaigns on the pretext of security threat. All others who belong to BJP are free to run their poll campaign. BJP leaders including Mukhtar Abbass Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain are allowed to go wherever they wish. But only local mainstream workers are being stopped. They want to impose BJP in Kashmir without knowing its repercussion”.
When asked what would be these ‘repercussion’, he said these (repercussions) have already started showing up. Separatism is growing exponentially here, however BJP are turning a blind eye to the situation.
Hailing the decision of PAGD in participating DDC polls, the senior Congress leader said that BJP abrogated Article 370 and 35(A) unilaterally in the Parliament and without taking the concerned people on board, which put a big undemocratic blot on the move. He said the regional parties and the people are not a party to this undemocratic process but they still want to avail the little democratic space which is available in terms of the DDC elections. “I think the decision of PAGD to take part in these polls was a wise one”, Soz added.
Defending Congress over pulling back from PAGD, the former Union Minister said that Congress is a national party which has its own limitations, however regional parties are free to raise regional aspirations but Congress cannot be expected to support all regional issues in every region.
When asked why Congress had failed to implement recommendations put forth by their own interlocutors for Kashmir, the Congress leader continued that “diluting autonomy was the wrong thing to do. Dr. Karan Singh once said in an interview that ‘If the Union of India has been consistent on anything in relation to Jammu and Kashmir it was the dilution of the autonomy’. So weakening of Article 370 was a mistake, but here it has been abrogated by the BJP. As a Kashmiri I agree our party has committed several mistakes in Kashmir”.
To a query about the apprehensions of people of J&K regarding new land laws, he admitted that people of Kashmir are genuinely apprehensive here. “The designs behind changing the laws related to land can be to change the demography. They (BJP) want the demographic change to occur because they think that will be the permanent solution to the problem but if they do that, they will lose Kashmir altogether”.
About the recent aggressive remarks of Home Minister about retrieving of Gilgit Baltistan on the floor of house, the former Union Minister said, “The Home Minister had indulged in tall talk. China is sitting in Ladakh. This government does not want to dislodge China from Ladakh. They do not dare to respond to the situation”.
Pertinently the former Union Minister was taken into ‘preventive custody’ in August last year when New Delhi scrapped Article 370 and 35(A) and downgraded the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. He was informed casually after a year that he can move out of his Srinagar residence.