Srinagar, Oct 6 : Calling for open-minded interlocutors, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Wednesday that he would introspect for the rest of his life on whether he failed to take a right decision to save “precious lives” lost in the last three months.
“Since 2008, when the Amarnath Shrine Board land row agitation was started by the separatists here, protests have always meant stone pelting by the youth. The prevailing situation in the Valley is because of the separatist protest calendars and ‘Chalo calls’ and they are responsible for the situation here,” Abdullah said in the assembly.
“For the rest of my life I would continue introspection to decide whether I failed at any stage to take the right decision that could have prevented the loss of precious lives during the last three months,” Abdullah admitted while participating in the discussion on the prevailing situation in the Valley.
Since June 11, when the present phase of unrest in the valley began, 109 people have been killed in clashes with security personnel.
According to the chief minister, about “30,000 businessmen, students and doctors have left the Valley because of the three-month-long unrest here. Train services in the Valley have also remained suspended for the last three months because of the agitation started by the separatists”.
He also declared that he would give up politics for ever if someone could convince him that it would help restore normalcy.
“The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been saying that the ground situation would improve if a change of guard takes place in the state. If someone is able to convince me that by giving up power normalcy would return, I am prepared not only to give up the chair, but also say goodbye to politics for ever. The PDP is mistaken in their notion,” Abdullah asserted.
He said that his government had managed the withdrawal of 30,000 paramilitary and army troopers from the Valley quietly since he took over as chief minister.
“Troop withdrawal and scaling down of security force presence on the ground is only possible through peace.
“Those who are spearheading the so-called Quit Kashmir movement here have not been able to manage the withdrawal of a single trooper from here during the last three months,” the chief minister said.
He also said out of 16 paramilitary bunkers in Srinagar city, 15 have so far been removed.
“We are also seriously exploring the possibility of revocation of the Armed forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from areas in the state where it is possible. Fifty arrested youth have already been released in the past few days and the meeting to review detentions under the Public Safety Act (PSA) would be held soon.”
He, however, accepted that whatever has been happening in the Valley during the last three months had its roots in the last 20 years.
“There is a problem in Kashmir which needs to be addressed. The interlocutors to be nominated by the central government must engage in a meaningful result-oriented dialogue with everybody and come here with an open mind and without any predetermined agenda.
“A dialogue should be started immediately between Delhi and Srinagar and also between Delhi and Islamabad to settle all outstanding issues including Kashmir.”
The chief minister stressed that the state of Jammu and Kashmir had a special status according to the constitution of the country.
“Ours is accession to India not merger. We have a special constitutional status in the country which should not be ignored,” the chief minister said.
To buttress his point, he quoted union Home Minister P. Chidambaram who had said Kashmir was a unique problem that needed a unique solution.