Saturday, June 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

61 pc of Kashmiris want to remain with India
Survey says 80% want Pandits back, 86% for end of militancy

London, May 31
About 61 per cent of the Kashmiris want to remain Indian citizens because they feel they will thus be politically and economically more secure, while only 6 per cent want to be Pakistani citizens, according to a recent opinion poll.

A large number of them (33 per cent) are indecisive. The poll was conducted by FACTS Worldwide, MORI’s affiliate company in India.

The majority of the people are also of the opinion that foreign militants are damaging the “Kashmir cause” and they do not want Kashmir to be divided on the lines of religion and ethnicity.

A whopping majority of 86 per cent want an end to militancy and infiltration of militants across the Line of Control (LoC). Two-thirds of the population believe that Pakistan’s involvement in the region for the past 10 years has been bad.

The poll also reveals that 80 per cent of the people want displaced Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes in safety. This, they feel, will help bring about peace.

People also believe that “the unique cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir — ‘Kashmiryat’ — should be preserved in any long-term solution.”

Half or more of the population believes that a “new political party is needed to bring about a permanent solution in Kashmir.”

The poll conducted at the end of April reveals an overwhelming majority of Kashmiris opposing India and Pakistan going to war to find a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue.

They believe the proper way to bring about peace in the region is through democratic elections, ending violence, and economic development.

As many as 93 per cent believe that peace in Jammu and Kashmir can be established through economic development while 86 per cent advocate holding free and fair elections and 87 per cent favour direct talks between the Indian Government and the people of Kashmir.

Views are, however, split on the issue of granting more autonomy to Kashmir. Overall 55 per cent support India and Pakistan granting control as much autonomy as they can to the parts of Kashmir under their control and enable them to govern their own affairs.

While the majority in Srinagar and Leh supports this policy, the majority in Jammu opposes it.

Views about the role and impact of the Indian security forces are also varied.

In Srinagar and Leh, at least nine out of 10 persons believe security forces scaling down their operations in Jammu and Kashmir would help bring peace, whereas in Jammu the opinions are reversed.

Perceptions also vary regarding the behaviour of the Indian security forces. UNI

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