by Saima Bhat
SRINAGAR: Comparing the state with his home town, Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik said Delhi based media is demonising Kashmir which directly effects the tourism industry.
“In my district (Muzafarnagar), at least five people get killed every day in that state,” Malik said. “Tourists are looted on the Meerut highway every week. There is no news about these incidents, but killing in Kashmir is debated for five days on national news channels only to paint a dismal picture of the atmosphere of peace and security to demonize Kashmir situation which damages the prospects of tourist seasons and atmosphere of peace and security in Kashmir.”
Malik expressed satisfaction at the peaceful conclusion of the Panchayat and Lok Sabha elections in the state and said he was proud of the people for that. However, he regretted that the mainstream political failed to persuade people to vote in the Lok Sabha polls. “I can ask them what has been the percentage of voting in these elections? They (mainstream parties) have failed to persuade people to vote. Vote is the ultimate weapon with citizens,” he said.
The governor said he tried his best to persuade the local parties to participate in the panchayat polls too, but they did not agree. “Yet we conducted the elections to empower the people at the grassroots. 74 percent people voted and there was just 2 percent voting in Bijbehara in Lok Sabha elections,” he added.
The Governor and his advisor K Vijay Kumar spoke about the militancy in Kashmir as well and they said it is “fatigued” presently. “Pakistan is in trouble. It has started realising that it cannot break India, and yet it will keep doing certain things. Militant training camps are still active there, but we are neutralising the militants and new recruitments are also down.”
The governor who was soft for the Kashmiri youth today invited Kashmiri militants to give up the arms and said they were ready to hold the talks. “There is unemployment across the country but unemployed people (elsewhere) in the country do not pick up weapons against the government. There is something more here. The basic thing here is that the leaders have not told people the truth. People have been misled and shown false dreams, which will never be fulfilled.”
He added: “The people have been shown the dream of ‘azadi’ and sometimes that of autonomy. When these things did not work, they were shown the dreams of paradise through radicalisation. I want to tell the youth that they have two paradises – one is Kashmir and if they become good Muslims, they will get the other one also.”
He said dialogue is the only way through which they can get what they want within the ambit of the Constitution. He said India cannot be made to bow through violence.
“Take everything from us, we will give our life, but through love and dialogue. For that (PM) Narendra Modi is ready, we are ready. Come to the dialogue table and take it forward,” he said.
“Whatever you want can be achieved through talks and dialogue. You have your own constitution, you have a separate flag. Whatever more you want, you will get it through the democratic process and within the ambit of the Indian Constitution,” he said.
The governor said the militants may not realise it now, but 10 years down the line they will repent that they chose the wrong path. “You cannot make India to bow through violence,” he said.
The Governor said, “These are ways of the destruction of Kashmir.” Malik exhorted the youth to give up arms as the life span is very less for the militants. “I want to tell the youth of Kashmir, drop your guns and come to Raj Bhawan to have lunch with me. Then explain to me what good Kashmir will get from the path you have chosen,” he said.
“In every insurgency, there comes a time when fatigue sets in. That time has come in Kashmir,” he said.
“There is a realisation (in Pakistan) there that we cannot fool the youth of Kashmir for too long (saying) that we will break India to give you something. (Gen Pervez) Musharraf had told the (Kashmiri) leaders here that he cannot do it as India is a superpower,” he said.
“Recruitment (of militants) has come down. A big reason for that is that we have adopted a sympathetic attitude towards our youth. I believe that the Kashmir problem will be solved through these youth only,” he said. “Talks with leaders cannot do it as they have been lying to the people for the past 50 years.”
When asked about the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the time to hold the polls will be decided by the Election Commission (EC). “It is between the Union Home Ministry and the Election Commission. I cannot comment on this. If the security we require for holding elections is provided to us, we are ready to hold the elections. We have held peaceful elections (panchayat and parliamentary) but for assembly elections, the security requirements are different,” he said.
The EC will decide the dates after going through the assessment of the security environment made by the concerned agencies, he said.
Responding to a question about the challenge to Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, Malik said promises to this effect have been made in the manifestos of many political parties and there is a lot of talk about it, but there is “nothing to worry about” on this front.
He also dismissed the reports about the delimitation of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir as “rumours”. “There is a rumour about delimitation, it is not something that can be done overnight as it is a constitutional matter. Even the Home Ministry has not confirmed that they are doing something like this. There are basically just rumours and newspaper reports only, there is no basis to these,” he said.
Governor Satya Pal Malik further said that the ruling elite that was involved in corruption in Jammu and Kashmir would face action soon.
Stressing that his dispensation was having no grudge against Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream political parties, he said he had repeatedly asked these local parties “not to parrot separatists.”
The Governor said corruption in Jammu and Kashmir was more prevalent than any part of the country. “There were two major cases of corruption involving Rs 150 crore each. I apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and got many deals cancelled where middlemen were offering kickbacks. Many powerful people, with access to the PM, were involved in it,” he said.
The Governor said the ruling elite in Jammu and Kashmir was part of the corruption. “They will be acted against soon. If this message goes that no aspirant of a bureaucrat or powerful person will be given preference in recruitment, half of terrorism will end here,” he added.
He said action will be taken “against big fishes” soon. He also said all those police officers who demanded money or other favours from the detained youth “have been removed in Kashmir.”
Around six fact-finding committees in different areas, such as sports, technical education, sports council appointments, macadamization, dredging and Jammu And Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation, Limited had been set up “to act against the corrupt elements through the amended powers granted to the Anti-Corruption Board [ACB]. The committees will give their reports by the end of this month then we’ll start rest of the process.”
The governor also informed that after giving Ladakh more rights under division status, they are happier. “They are happy to the tune that they say they don’t need UT now. We have given airport to Kargil and one university to whole Ladakh division.”
He also said that his administration is focused on education as well. “102 new colleges are coming up and we have upgraded 280 high schools and 250 are more in the list.”
Governor said 26000 RET have been regularised and more recruitment will be done in future.