press trust of india
Srinagar, 7 July
Cautioning against people of Jammu and Kashmir being “taken for granted”, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today asked the Centre to engage with them politically in a dialogue.
“By design or by default, we have given this impression to the people in the state that we only engage with them when there is trouble,” he said, citing the instances of engaging with the separatists at the peak of militancy or with the public in the aftermath of agitations in 2008 and 2010.
Omar believes that this “is a dangerous impression to give to people” and wants an engagement with them when “things are quiet”. The people of the state are interested in peace and normalcy than ever before, he said.
Nearly four-and-a-half years in power at the head of a coalition between his National Conference and the Congress, Omar spoke on a wide range of issues concerning the state and national politics during an interview to ***PTI.
At 43, Omar has noticeable strands of grey in his hair which he attributes partly to the tension of the job. There have been times when he had asked himself “what am I doing here” but then he had realised that a lot of positive things had been done by his government.
With elections to the state Assembly due before November 2014, the issues facing Omar include the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), incidents relating to militancy and the Centre’s failure to engage in a political dialogue with the people of the state given the largely peaceful situation.
The people of Kashmir do not want to be taken for granted, Omar said, adding, “My fear is that we are taken for granted at several levels”.
While stating that “we castigate the Government of India at some point for not engaging in the state politically”, he lashed out at some of the political leadership in the state for not engaging with the Centre, referring to the main
opposition PDP in particular.
"Please explain to me why the leadership of the PDP can quietly go and meet the Prime Minister at his home in Delhi but not take a delegation to him when he is in Srinagar,” he asked.
About the incident in Bandipore, where two youths were killed in Army firing, he said incidents like this can always be avoided if proper precautions and standard operating procedures are followed in letter and spirit.