Friday, June 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NC may put off autonomy debate
Stop anti-India build-up, CM told
From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, June 22 — The National Conference leadership is likely to defer the adoption of the motion on State Autonomy Commit-tee’s report in the ongoing special session of the state Legislature.

Reports said the ruling party leadership, including the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, had been persuaded by the PMO and other central leaders to postpone the adoption of the motion because without the approval of Parliament and the presidential nod the assembly decision could not help the National Conference in seeing its desire for restoring to the state the pre-1953 constitutional status.

The reports said either the discussion on the motion would be deferred to the autumn session of the state legislature or refer the State Autonomy Committee’s report to select committee of the House.

The Chief Minister and his party colleagues have already made their mind known during their speeches on the floor of the assembly as far as the need for restoring greater autonomy to the state. But they too have realised that the convening of the special session of the legislature to debate on the controversial issue for the restoration of greater autonomy had already generated enough heat with a majority of people in Jammu and Ladakh opposing it and the separatists evincing hardly any interest.

Senior Hurriyat leaders, who seemed to be watching the verbal duel between the opponents and the protagonists of autonomy, have stated that the restoration of greater autonomy was no longer a solution to the 52-year-old Kashmir issue. In fact the stormy debate on the floor of the two Houses of the state legislature had started stirring up regional and communal passions in the state.

Besides this, the tone and tenor of the speeches of the National Conference leaders on the floor of the House seemingly caused fresh strains between Dr Farooq Abdullah and the Prime Minister. The Union Government took a serious note and a special team was sent to Jammu and Srinagar to monitor the day-to-day political developments. A special cell was set up in the PMO to collect details of speeches delivered on the floor of the House by every member. Besides this the cell has been receiving complete details of reaction by the opponents of greater autonomy.

Reports said the Chief Minister had received veiled threats from central agencies. According to these reports, Dr Farooq Abdullah had been requested my men who matter in Delhi to stop building the anti-Centre hysteria.

Political analysts are of the opinion that Dr Farooq Abdullah has been placed in a predicament. Since he has built an euphoria in Kashmir over the restoration of greater autonomy he will not be willing to run away from the battlefield because that would be construed his weakness and political immaturity. He may, at the best, postpone the adoption of the motion.

The analysts say the Chief Minister has displayed his talent for throwing the gauntlet and he wanted to show to the Centre that he was relevant in Kashmir and second he could not be sidelined by opening talks with the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference. The reports said that the Chief Minister had been irked by two developments. First, he felt pained when the Centre refused to help his government come out of the acute financial crisis. Second, he feared that the Centre was trying to shift its priorities by inviting Hurriyat Conference leaders for talks. He felt that it was the Central Government that appealed to him to participate in the Assembly elections in 1996 and at that stage the then Prime Minister had promised him all possible financial support to resolve the problem of poverty and unemployment. He felt “cheated” as his government was denied funds.

Dr Farooq Abdullah felt that the Centre was exploring new options by hooking the Hurriyat leaders which could set a stage for his ouster. Hence he raised the autonomy issue and created a new political controversy not only in the state but in the entire country. The reports said Dr Abdullah had been able to achieve his aim. The Centre might go slow with its plan of holding talks with the Hurriyat leaders and release additional funds to the Kashmir Government for resuming work on various development projects.


Uproar in J & K House
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, June 22 — The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes for the third consecutive day today during the discussions on the grant of autonomy to the State. BJP, Congress and other opposition members locked horns with the ruling party members on the issue of autonomy, as the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, did not attend today’s proceedings of the House.

Two BJP MLAs, Mr Piara Singh and Mr Ashok Khajuria continued to disrupt the speeches of the National conference members, including two ministers, Mohammad Shafi and Mr Mohammad Ramzan. Noisy scenes and heated exchange of arguments were witnessed during the proceedings of the House. The two BJP MLAs Mr Piara Singh and Mr Ashok Khajuria continued to wear black head covers for the third consecutive day today as mark of protest against the NC’s demand for the grant of autonomy. As members of the NC stated that they did not support the call for “Azadi”, but for Autonomy, member of the Opposion raised their voices by saying “that also you will not get”.

For the first time during the proceedings of the House, the Haj and Auqaf Minister, Mr B.A. Kitchloo intervented to pacify the opposition members. The Law and Parliamentary Affair Minister, Mr Pyare Lal Handoo, having been present in the House, did not intervene.

Both Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah and the Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather were absent. An official spokesman said here this evening that the Chief Minister today flew to New Delhi to participate in the Chief Minister’s conference on sales tax. He was accompanied by Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather. After reaching the Capital, Dr Abdullah straightway drove to Vigyan Bhavan, the venue of the conference, to participate in the deliberations” However, Chief Minister’s absence is regarded here as a significant development in view of his summons form New Delhi to “discuss autonomy” with the central leadership.

The special session of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly was extended by a day today. Speaker Abdul Ahad Vakil said the Assembly would also meet on Monday.Back


Autonomy is not the issue: APHC
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, June 22 — Apprehending that autonomy might be a “deeper conspiracy” against the people of Jammu and Kashmir in general and Kashmiris in particular, Hurriyat Conference leaders here believe it was “totally wrong that autonomy is any issue”.

Addressing a press conference at the APHC headquarters at Rajbagh, senior separatist leader, Abdul Ghani Lone reiterated that Kashmir was a disputed territory and the basic issue about the future dispensation of the people of the state was yet to be decided. “As far as present freedom struggle is concerned autonomy is no issue”, he said in reply to a question on the issue of autonomy which is being discussed by the state Legislative Assembly here.

The APHC leader alleged that while the Central Government leaders were talking about a dialogue with the people of Kashmir, there had been an increase in the custodial killings and excesses by the security forces. “On the one hand they (GoI) talk of a dialogue with us and on the other hand bolt the door from inside” by laying conditions, Lone asserted.

“They (Central Government) went to break us”, he claimed while referring repeatedly to the custodial killings.

Reiterating APHC stand on the tripartite talks right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Lone said “Now we say dialogue is not for us”. He said the powerful parties to the dispute were India and Pakistan, while “we are a small party to the dispute”. He added that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were “necessary party” to the dispute.

Replying questions, Mr Lone said the APHC has rejected the proposed trifurcation of the state, adding that it was not going to give any ideal solution. “We are not going to give any ideal solution unless the Government of India gives way for tripartite talks. He declined to comment on his meetings with US-based Kashmiri leader Farooq Kathwari. “Various proposals have come...we will not express unless proposal becomes part of tripartite talks”, Mr Lone said.

Earlier, in his remarks, Mr Lone stated that the senior APHC leader and JKLF chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik had postponed his programme to launch an indefinite fast against the killings.Back


Reject autonomy report: Gujjars
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, June 22 — The Gujjar United Front has demanded the State Autonomy Committee report, which seeks to take the state out of the constitutional umbrella of India, be rejected immediately because once the pre-1953 constitutional status was restored to Jammu and Kashmir over 20 lakh Gujjars and Bakerwals would be deprived of their fundamental rights and Scheduled Tribe status.

This demand was voiced by president and secretary general of the front, Mr Anwar Chowdhary and Mr Shah Mohd respectively, at a press conference here today. They said greater autonomy to the state would add to the woes of Gujjars and Bakerwals.

The front leaders demanded that the districts of Jammu, Kathua Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch and Doda be delinked from the Kashmir valley and declared as a Gujjar and Duggar state under the Constitution.

Mr Anwar Chowdhary also demanded that a separate Gujjar regiment in the Army be raised allowing members of the community an opportunity to fight the anti-India forces.

The front leaders demanded proper representation in proportion to the population of Gujjars in the services, political institutions including Parliament and state legislature, district boards civic bodies, professional institutions. They demanded that the Gujjars and Bakerwals be given representation in the Central Minority Commission.

Mr Anwar and Mr Shah Mohd said the State Autonomy Committee and the Regional Autonomy committee reports, if implemented, could endanger the security, integrity and communal amity in Jammu and Kashmir.

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