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Farooq for discussion on autonomy

Dr Farooq AbdullahSRINAGAR, June 30 — The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, has been in the news for the past many days due to the autonomy issue. The resolution was passed by the two Houses of the state legislature after a weeklong debate on the restoration of pre-1953 status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Houses discussed the report of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) that was tabled in the Assembly on April 13, 1999.

Captain among 6 killed in J&K
SRINAGAR, June 30 Three members of a family and two security personnel, including an Army Captain, were among six persons killed and 15 others injured in the state during the past 24 hours.

 



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Farooq for discussion on autonomy
From Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, June 30 — The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, has been in the news for the past many days due to the autonomy issue. The resolution was passed by the two Houses of the state legislature after a weeklong debate on the restoration of pre-1953 status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Houses discussed the report of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) that was tabled in the Assembly on April 13, 1999.

Autonomy was the main plank of the National Conference election campaign in 1996 when it returned to power after a gap of nearly seven years with an absolute majority and the committee was constituted for this.

Dr Farooq Abdullah spoke to The Tribune in Srinagar recently. He favoured a federal India. Excerpts of the interview:

Q. How do the people of J&K get benefited after the resolution on autonomy has been passed?

Dr Farooq Abdullah: We are jumping too far. The first and foremost thing that we are asking for is a debate and discussion on this, not only with the NC but with every single party that exists in the state and every national and regional party in the country. Only after discussion we will be able to come to a sort of understanding as to what we are asking for .... How is it going to weaken India. How is it going to strengthen India .... all these things can be ascertained.

Q. Do your think this would restore peace and normalcy in the state?

A. When we made the government you saw the conditions at that time. At least we could say, if not 100 per cent, but quite a lot of activity towards peace was restored. With this resolution at least another dimension was added to it, which we felt would also add towards further peace.

Q. Do you think that Parliament will pass the resolution in view of the statement of the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani?

A. If I was thinking that it would be passed by Parliament and I must wait till it was passed, or take such actions ... that would result in that, I would not have gone to the people with the autonomy plank in 1996. In 1994 the working committee of the NC had the restoration of autonomy on its agenda at a time when there was no talk or any elections. We went to the polls when the central government at that time was a government of multiple parties and promised greater autonomy. Had the people forgotten that on of the Prime Ministers had said in Parliament that “sky is the limit”. So why all this strange debate and discussion. All sorts of moves were being made to show us that we were bad people .... and were trying to destabilise India ... Why all this when Mr Narasimha Rao at that time had said ‘sky is the limit’ and greater autonomy was promised. Did they not realise at that time that in this democracy that debate was not possible?

Q. In case Parliament rejects the resolution, will the NC pull out of the NDA?

A. Why are you jumping to a conclusion. When such a situation arises, the working committee of the NC will decide the next move.

Q. Has the discussion opened a pandora’s box?

A. It is not a pandora’s box. At least it has started a discussion on having federal India. After all Canada, Australia and USA have functioned well with autonomy of the states. Why can’t India enjoy the same situation where federal and state governments are having powers. So what is the difficulty about it here. Is it going to weaken India? It has not weakened any country where autonomy has been given to the states like Canada, Australia and others.

Q. You have been favouring a change in the LoC into international border. Do you think Pakistan will agree to it?

A. I do not know to what Pakistan will agree to or will not agree to. I know only one thing that there are number of suggestions that are afloat for bringing peace between India and Pakistan. Even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India in Leh have suggested a confederation. That is one suggestion. There can be so many other suggestions. So out of all those suggestions this is one suggestion that may find a solution to bring peace between the two countries.

A. It is not only Jammu and Kashmir that is faced with cash crunch. After the Fifth Pay Commission’s recommendations. I think there is not a single state in India that has not faced financial difficulties. That is why during the recent meeting held with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, by the Chief Ministers, this was the main point of discussion.
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Captain among 6 killed in J&K

SRINAGAR, June 30 (UNI) Three members of a family and two security personnel, including an Army Captain, were among six persons killed and 15 others injured in the state during the past 24 hours.

The security forces arrested 11 suspected militants and seized some arms and ammunition in the valley during the period.

Official sources said an Army Captain was killed and three soldiers were wounded critically when the vehicle in which they were travelling was blown up by militants on the Bagpora-Padgampora road near Awantipora, about 30 km from here, in south Kashmir this afternoon.

Sources said the area had been cordoned off and a massive hunt had been launched to nab militants responsible for the blast.

Two mine blasts took place at Neepora Qazigund in south Kashmir early this morning when a security force patrol was passing the area. The blasts followed firing by militants. However, no one was injured, he said, and added militants managed to escape after forces retaliated.

Panic gripped the busy business centre, Hari Singh High Street, here this morning around 11.30 a.m. when militants fired upon the security forces. The security forces also retaliated but none was wounded, an official spokesman said.

He said two sons of Constable Ghulam Haider brought some suspicious box to their Murad Bagh Drass house last night and started playing with it.

He said there was a loud explosion resulting in on-the-spot death of three family members of Mr Haider, including two women. Five others were critically wounded.

It is being suspected that the box was actually an explosive device which might have remained unexploded during the Kargil conflict last year.
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