Cautions PM against unilateral decision on land row
JAVAID MALIK | Greater Kashmir, August 30, 2008
Srinagar, Aug 29: Former chief minister and patron of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Friday warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a “bigger rebellion” in the Kashmir Valley if any unilateral decision was taken on land row. He also asked New Delhi to review its Kashmir policy to prevent further alienation of Kashmiris.
According to the PDP insiders, Sayeed who is presently camping in New Delhi was invited over lunch by the Prime Minister this afternoon. “If any unilateral decision about handing over the land back to Amarnath Shrine Board is taken it will have far reaching consequences,” sources quoted Mufti as telling the Prime Minister.
Mufti is understood to have told the PM that Coordination Committee (CC), an amalgam of separatist parties, lawyers, traders, transporters and members of the civil society, should be taken into confidence before taking any decision on land row. “If CC is ignored and land is transferred back to the board, it can lead to bigger rebellion in the Kashmir Valley,” Mufti told Dr Singh.
Mufti, according to the sources, stressed on the Prime Minister to review the Kashmir policy and resolve the Kashmir issue without wasting time. “Time has come to implement the recommendations of the Working Groups which include opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road for trade and hold dialogue with the separatist leaders,” Mufti is understood to have told Dr Singh.
Sources said that during the meeting Mufti told Dr Singh that people of Kashmir have been suppressed since 1990 and it has not borne any fruits. “If New Delhi continues to suppress the people of Kashmir it will lead to their further alienation. Curfew and restrictions on press and media are not going to help,” sources quoted Mufti as saying.
Sources said that Prime Minister assured Mufti that New Delhi will take all the steps to diffuse the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. “We’ve to take the aspirations of both regions into consideration before coming to a conclusion. I am very much concerned about the situation in Jammu as well as Kashmir,” Dr Singh is understood to have told Mufti.
When contacted the PDP patron said, “I met the Prime Minister today and apprised him about the present situation in Kashmir. I also put forward my point of view and the apprehensions we have.”
Agitation over transfer of 800 kanals of land to Amarnath Shrine Board at Baltal rocked Kashmir Valley in month of June. The land transfer row led to PDP pulling out from the Congress led coalition government. The then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad revoked the controversial land diversion order, but only after the Governor N N Vohra who is also the chairman of the Board gave up the Board’s claim on the land in the event of the State Government taking the responsibility of providing various facilities to the pilgrims.
However, the revocation of the order sparked of an agitation in Jammu region spearheaded by Amarntah Yatra Sangharsh Samiti, an amalgam of various rightwing parties and organizations. Samiti activists blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway, only road connecting Kashmir Valley with rest of the world, causing acute shortage of essential commodities and medicines in the Valley, and also obstructing the export of largely perishable fruit to the markets across India. The agitation led to complete polarization of the state on the basis of religion.
To counter the economic blockade, Coordination Committee led by both Hurriyat factions was formed. The major demands of the Committee are opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road for trade, revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides impunity to the soldiers operating in the state, release of detainees languishing in various jails and withdrawal of troops.
On August 11, tens of thousands of people on CC’s call marched towards Muzaffarabad. Police and troopers opened fire on the marchers near Sheeri in north Kashmir’s Varmul district killing eight persons including senior Hurriyat leader Shiekh Abdul Aziz. Since August 11 at least 40 persons have been killed in police and CRPF firing in different protests across the Valley.
Following massive public rallies organized by CC at Pampore, Tourist Reception Centre grounds and Eidgah, authorities imposed indefinite curfew in all ten districts of the Valley on August 24 and arrested many pro freedom leaders including chairmen of both Hurriyat factions, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairperson of Dukhtarn-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi, Shabir Ahmed Shah and others.