Monday, July 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Crucial NC meeting today
To discuss Cabinet’s rebuff to report

Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, July 9 — The much-awaited meeting of the working committee of the National Conference is to be held here tomorrow to take stock of the situation arising out of the rejection of the resolution on the restoration of autonomy by the Centre.

This was disclosed by the National Conference chief and the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, while talking to mediapersons at the two-day conference on regional and state autonomy at SKICC here today. He said all options and the future course of action would be decided at the meeting. He said the rejection of the resolution by the Union Cabinet did not amount to the rejection of the report. “I am hurt and alienated”, Dr Farooq Abdullah said in reply to a question as to how he felt on the Centre’s outright rejection of the resolution passed by the legislature.

The working committee meeting is going to decide the future course of action viz-a-viz the rejection of the resolution on autonomy by the Union Cabinet recently. The resolution was passed by the state legislature on June 26 after a week-long special session of the two Houses of the state legislature to discuss the issue. The report of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) had been tabled before the House on April 13 last year in Jammu. The Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pyare Lal Handoo, on April 8, 2000, moved a resolution to discuss the report of autonomy submitted to the government, following which the special session of the state legislatures was called here from June 19 last.

The Chief Minister has been opposing the criticisms against him and his party by the BJP-led alliance parties and others on the autonomy issue. He has been asserting that it was not going to weaken the relationship of the state with the Centre. He held that the demand for the grant of autonomy was within the framework of the Constitution and thereby sought pre-1953 position to Jammu and Kashmir under which the state had all the powers vested with it except for defence, communication and foreign powers. With this the Chief Minister would be designated Prime Minister and the Governor would be designated as the Sadar-e-Riyasat.

When his reaction was sought on BJP chief Kushabhau Thakre’s demand for the abrogation of Article 370, Dr Abdullah said it was nothing knew and it had been on their agenda but they could not do it. He said the reaction on autonomy resolution by the Sangh Parivar and Shiv Sena was on expected lines as they had all along been opposing Article 370. Even the BJP agenda speaks for the abrogation of this Article giving special status to the state. He said anti-Muslim stance of the RSS and Bal Thackeray was is well known and asked “can Mr Thackeray throw 200 million Muslims into the sea as he has been uttering”.

Dr Abdullah said he would depute his colleagues to New Delhi to brief political leaders of all parties and MPs before the onset of monsoon session of Parliament and clear misgivings, if any.

When asked whether he had been pushed to the wall by the Centre by rejecting the autonomy resolution, Dr Farooq Abdullah said: “No I have not been pushed to the wall, nor am I somewhere nearer to that”. He also ruled out the dismissal of his government and said the era of dismissing governments was over.

On reported moves of trifurcation, the Chief Minister said he was opposed to such an option and believed in the single entity of the three regions of the state. He said he did not think the Centre took any note of Farookh Kathwari’s ( US-based Kashmir Study Group) document. “I don’t think the Centre takes it seriously”, he added.

Responding to a question on unleashing charges of mis-governance and corruption against his government in the recent past by the BJP the Chief Minister said: “I laugh at their stupidity. But, after all they have to say something against me to the people.”

He said no provocation would drive him to azadi or nearer Pakistan as he was an Indian from the core of his heart. “I will remain Indian even if I am sent to prison”, he said and added that labelling him as anti-Indian was nothing new for him as labels like Khalistani , Pakistani, traitor etc had been put to him earlier also. “I am least bothered what they say”, Dr Abdullah said.

To another question, the Chief Minister said: “I must make it emphatically clear that Kashmir will never become Pakistan. It will remain a part of India, come what may”. 


Vajpayee meets Thackeray

MUMBAI, July 9 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today had a meeting with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray at Raj Bhavan in the backdrop of the discontent in the Sena camp over portfolios allotted to the party’s ministers in the NDA government.

Mr Thackeray drove down to Raj Bhavan to call on the Prime Minister, who arrived in the city on a day’s visit, but evaded the journalists waiting outside while leaving the place after a closed-door meeting with Mr Vajpayee which lasted for about 45 minutes.

Union Minister for Information Technology and Parliamentary Affairs Pramod Mahajan said the two leaders shared lunch after they held “one-to-one” talks.

According to Sena sources, Mr Vajpayee and Mr Thackeray discussed the portfolios and Jammu and Kashmir autonomy among other issues.

It may be recalled that Mr Thackeray and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani had met on July 6 here when the former gave vent to the Sena’s displeasure at being allocated “dead portfolios” (insignificant) to three of its ministers in the Union Cabinet. Mr Thackeray had announced after his meeting with Mr Advani that the Sena would soon approach the Prime Minister to discuss the issue.

The three Sena ministers — Mr Manohar Joshi, Mr Suresh Prabhu and Balasaheb Vikhe Patil — are currently holding charge of Heavy Industries, Environment and Finance (minister of state) respectively.

While Mr Thackeray was closetted with Mr Vajpayee his nephew Raj Thackeray, Mr Manohar Joshi, Mr Suresh Prabhu, Mr Ram Naik and Pramod Mahajan were sitting in the adjacent room.

Mr Mahajan, who spoke to journalists later, said he was not aware of what transpired between the two leaders.

“All that I could overhear was Mr Thackeray telling the Prime Minister, “Hamare pas mamata (affection) hai, Banerjee nahin” (we have got affection not Banerjee).

Mr Vajpayee said the print media had an important role to play in upholding the principles of secularism and democracy and exhorted journalists to imbibe a spirit of mission to steer the country towards the path of progress.

Delivering the presidential address at the golden jubilee celebrations of Navbharat Times here, he said the print media shall remain despite the presence of the electronic media.

“Written words have documentary value and hence people will look towards print media for in-depth analysis of news and views”, Mr Vajpayee told a gathering amid wide applause.

Mr Vajpayee called upon participants of stock markets to protect the interest of genuine small investors and asked operators to refrain from creating artificial volatility in the market.

“The confidence of small investors should not be shaken by unscrupulous operators by creating artificial volatility in the market,’’ he said, addressing a gathering of the business community and captains of the industry.

“If rigging elections and cricket matches is bad... rigging stock markets is equally bad,’’ the Prime Minister said while inaugurating the year-long celebrations of the country’s premier bourse, the Bombay Stock Exchange, to commemorate its 125 years of inception.

He underlined the urgent need for strengthening the “regulatory environment’’ of the capital market. On the other hand, the stock exchanges should also keep their internal management tight, he said.

The Prime Minister, without naming any international stock exchange, said the sensex movement should not be tuned to “distant forces.’’

The capital markets need to adopt a “balanced approach’’ and create a level playing field between the traditional and the new economy, he added.

“The capital markets should be free from any political or bureaucratic interference,’’ he said.


Amanullah for ‘united Kashmir’
Willing to visit India for talks
From Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

ISLAMABAD, July 9 — The idea of autonomy as sought by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, particularly the National Conference, is not what Mr Amanullah Khan, the outlawed Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), has in mind.

While the working committee of the National Conference meets in Srinagar to decide its future course of action after the BJP-led National Democratic Government rejected its demand for greater autonomy, the chairman of the once most dreaded militant organisation of the disturbed state, Mr Amanullah Khan, is looking forward to a “united Kashmir” with both India and Pakistan providing it with the necessary infrastructure.

Mr Amanullah Khan seeks independence for Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from both India and Pakistan for this “united Kashmir” with a place in it for people from all religions. He seeks a state somewhat similar to Switzerland with enough autonomy to have internal control.

Although he rejects the proposal of autonomy as passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly yet he sees it as a major “leap forward” for achieving the ultimate goal “united Kashmir. He also sees no problem in disarming of the militants operating in the state and has prepared a formula for it also.

But, he is looking forward to getting consent from both India and Pakistan for the purpose. He also threatened to create J and K-type conditions in Pakistan if that country created hurdles for him.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, the short-statured Chairman of the JKLF not only explained the reason for his taking to arms but also sought a permanent solution to the persisting Kashmir problem, which has almost completely ruined development in the South-Asian region.

Mr Amanullah Khan said he had taken to arms as his repeated pleas to the Indian Government for letting the Kashmiris decide their own course fell on deaf ears. “Instead of considering my representations, the Indian officials started to hound me and even ensured my deportation from Britain, forcing me to take up arms,” he said.

Mr Amanullah Khan said he was opposed to the autonomy as proposed in the Regional Autonomy Committee report presented to the J&K Assembly. He also said the report was not well worded and that there were a lot of loopholes in it. He felt that the proposals of the New York-based Kashmir Study Group (KSG) were also quite ambiguous.

He was of the opinion that “united Kashmir” should have four regions — Jammu, Kashmir valley, Ladakh and the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan.

“I don’t think in terms of non-Muslim or Muslim state. We want a secular, independent state with place in it for all Kashmiris.” The JKLF chief said, “I want a reunited, fully independent country with a democratic, federal and secular system of government and having friendly relations with both India and Pakistan”.

He said if he achieved his purpose then he would not allow either India or Pakistan to use their soil against the other. He said Kashmir should be left to the Kashmiris and was hopeful that all Kashmiris would return to their land and start their lives afresh. He appealed to Kashmiri pandits to return to their homes once Kashmir achieved autonomy.

However, he pointed out that India and Pakistan would be responsible for providing the Kashmiris with the finance for rebuilding their shattered homes.

When asked how would he propose to have an independent “united Kashmir” when both India and Pakistan were actually not ready for it, the JKLF chief pointed out that New Delhi had at least taken some steps forward, but was apprehensive that it would be Islamabad which would eventually create trouble in the purpose. He clearly threatened Pakistan that if it opposed the move for a “united Kashmir” then circumstances similar to those prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir would be created there also.

Not being much in favour with the military regime in Pakistan, the JKLF chief also expressed willingness to visit India in an effort to help the Indian Government in solving the Kashmir issue. However, he sought an assurance from the Indian administrators that he would not be arrested on landing on Indian soil.

He was also of the view that it should be the Kashmiris and all Kashmiris from both sides who should have a meeting somewhere to resolve the Kashmir issue. He suggested that this meeting should be held neither in India nor in Pakistan but at some neutral place.

Mr Amanullah Khan also put forth a formula for the solving of Kashmir issue. The formula is proposed to be implemented peacefully in five phases by an 11-member “International Kashmir Committee” to ensure “United Kashmir” to be a fully independent country having friendly relations with both India and Pakistan.

The formula also proposes that all militant groups, including the mercenaries, would be disarmed once there was an agreement on “United Kashmir”. 

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