No democracy, no civil rights in Kashmir: Ex Union Minister

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Srinagar, Stating that situation will go out of control if New Delhi failed to resolve Kashmir issue, former Union Minister Kamal Morarka Monday accused the Government of India of curtailing civil liberties of the people of Kashmir.

“I was shocked during my stay in Kashmir. There is no democracy, no civil rights for common people. You can’t hold a peaceful demonstration while disproportionate force is used by the government to muzzle the voice of the people. Despite enjoying special status, Kashmir has become a hell due to wrong approach of the State and Central Governments,” Morarka, former Minister of State in the PMO and ex-Rajya Sabha member, told a news conference here.

Morarka is heading a delegation of civil society members to Kashmir to interact with different shades of opinion here.

The former Minister said Kashmir needs a solution and if India fails to deliver, then the situation will go out of control. “Rewind the clock back to 1947 and restore the Article 370 in its original form. Government of India has miserably failed to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiri people. The repressive policies must come to an end. Space should be given to the political leaders while maiming, killing and blinding people should immediately stop,” he said.

He said it is shameful on part of India that they are not even allowing octogenarian leader Syed Ali Geelani to hold a religious congregation inside his house.

He said people in Kashmir laughed at the delegation when he talked about Indian democracy. “People from Gujarat and Maharashtra enjoy more rights than people of Kashmir despite the fact the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a special status,” he said.

“New Delhi is trying to tire out people of Kashmir, little do they know that new generation of Kashmiris is up in arms against it. The current unrest in Kashmir showed that people here are united and ready to suffer losses. It is stupidity on part of Indian media when they claim that stone-pelters are paid. This is the worst journalism on part of Indian media houses. These media house twist facts and mislead the people of India about Kashmir,” he said.

Journalist Santosh Bharti, who is part of the delegation, castigated some Indian news channels for propagating hatred against Kashmiri people. “It is unfortunate that most of the Indian journalists have become the spokespersons of politicians. The Indian print media is reluctant to portray Kashmir in true form while news channels thrive on lies about Kashmir,” he said and appealed Indian journalists to visit Kashmir to know the ground reality.

Meanwhile, a handout issued by the groups said Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani told the delegation that people of India don’t know about real situation of Kashmir.

Geelani, according to the delegation statement, said that if there is a referendum in Kashmir and people decide to stay with India, then no one will have any objection. “He (Geelani) also reiterated referendum was promised to Kashmiris by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was a promise by a nation to other nation. Kashmir was never a part of India and it was a separate nation. Kashmiris were promised a referendum which has not been fulfilled yet. India must fulfill it,” the statement read.

Geelani told Morarka that India’s civil society must come forward to demand immediate stop of use of force and atrocities in Kashmir.

“During the meeting, Geelani was suspicious of politicians like Farooq Abdullah who are currently issuing statements in support of Hurriyat. He advised these politicians that if they want to stay with people of Kashmir then they must first stop participating in elections,” the statement said.

Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in his interaction with the delegation, said Kashmir issue was a reality that had held peace, development and prosperity of entire South Asia hostage.

“It is unfortunate that many media houses are only highlighting the government perspective on Kashmir and ignoring the ground realities altogether,” Mirwaiz told the delegation.

He informed the  delegation about the ongoing political situation in Kashmir, saying, “The picture presented at the government level is misleading the people of India and it is the responsibility of the Indian civil society, intellectuals and responsible media houses to inform their people about the ground realities in Kashmir and educate them in light of historic perspective while pressurizing New Delhi to resolve Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.”

According to the statement, National Conference patron Dr. Farooq Abdullah told the delegation that “New Delhi has so far adopted a policy of divide and rule, but now we have decided that we’ll not let them succeed in their policy anymore.”

“That is why I said I’m standing with the Hurriyat,” the delegation statement quoted Farooq as saying.

The delegation said Dr. Farooq Abdullah is angry that “the central government has closed its eyes and ears to the problem and now it seems that it has closed its nose as well, because the government does not want to smell the pain of Kashmir.”

“Abdullah said that New Delhi thinks that the anger of the people has been subsided, but they are under wrong impression. If they do not address the question of Kashmir they will have to face a new storm in the month of April and May,” the statement read.

Former PCC President Saifuddin Soz told the civil society delegation that India’s civil society must come forward and talk to the people of Kashmir and the opinion of Kashmiri people must be communicated to people of India.

“Saifuddin Soz reminded the delegation of history of Kashmir issue and said that he is with Hurriyat Conference as they represent the anger of people of Kashmir,” the delegation said.

(With inputs from CNS)

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