New Delhi: Contending that most people of Jammu and Kashmir, including areas under Pakistani occupation, want to be with India, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Thursday ridiculed demands for "independence", saying said the separatists were not aware of its consequences.
Participating in a debate in the Lok Sabha on the situation in Kashmir, the Union Minister warned that the state would face the problems as are posed by elements like Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan if it became independent. He pressed for autonomy for the state, saying such a step would make India truly federal and strong.
"Most Kashmiris want to find a solution to the problems within India... We want to find a solution to the problem within India...not in Pakistan, China or in America," said the former Chief Minister, whose party is in power in the state.
"We want Jammu and Kashmir of Raja Hari Singh," he said making it clear that he wanted re-integration of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas with other parts of the state as existed before 1947.
Making a strong plea to political parties, particularly the BJP, to understand the sentiments of the people of the state, he said the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas, would remain part of India.
"Those in Kashmir demanding 'azadi' (independence) have not realised the consequences of such a demand. Kashmir too faces a threat from Taliban elements and a situation similar to Afghanistan and Pakistan will arise in the state too (if independence is granted)," Abdullah said.
He warned about the dangerous consequences of independence as he stated that he had visited Jalalabad in Afghanistan where he had seen that not a single building or a house was intact.
"Is that the kind of freedom we want? Those demanding independence, don't they see the situation in Afghanistan," he said, while pointing out that "Taliban and other terror groups have wrecked havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan." "Hindustan is in our hearts and there is no machine available today that can open our hearts and show our sentiments are with Hindustan," Abdullah said.
He said Jammu and Kashmir had not joined the Indian Union due to threat of bullets or any other force, but the decision was swayed by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He said the Kashmiri separatists had not considered whether 'azadi' was viable.
"Kashmir shares its borders with Pakistan on one side and China on the other. Both are nuclear-armed countries. Pakistan is sending in terrorists in to the state, while China's army is intruding into its territory time and again," he said while talking about the dangers.
Underlining that Kashmir was "not a simple" problem, the NC leader appealed to members not to "make it look" simple. Pointing to the BJP benches, he said, "Dil pe raj karna hai, zameen pe nahi (you have to rule the hearts of the people, not the land)." Appealing to the MPs to understand the sentiments of the people, Abdullah said he wanted to "correct" the views of the people of the states.
He referred to the autonomy resolution passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2000 when he was the Chief Minister and said without autonomy of all states, India would not have truly federal structure.
"If you do not understand the sentiments of the people of Kashmir, North East and other parts of the country, India cannot be strong. Only if every state is strong and enjoys the its powers, can the centre be strong and enjoy its powers," he said.
He said he had raised the issue of central grants with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, when V P Singh was Finance Minister and Manmohan Singh was Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission.
But his demand for 90 per cent grants and 10 per cent loan from the central funds were rejected by V P Singh, which was conveyed to him, the then Chief Minister added.
On another occasion when A B Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, Abdullah said he had submitted a note on autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir to the Cabinet, but it was not considered, even though most of the ministers had not read it at all.
Despite his plea for a reading of the note before a decision was taken, the agenda was swept aside, he added.
"You had invited then Pakistan President Musharraf to Agra for talks, even though the list of 20 criminals wanted by India was not even considered by Islamabad," he said addressing the BJP benches. PTI