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Omar says Kashmir can be resolved ‘only politically’

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Asserts, PM’s quota bill 'politically motivated'

Jammu, Jan 08: Former Chief Minister and vice president of National Conference, Omar Abdullah today said that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved politically and killing of militants is no alternative to bring peace in the Valley.

"J&K is a political problem and its answer is to deal with it politically. I am not justifying the use of violence on any side. Killings of militants will not help," Abdullah said while addressing a youth convention of his party.

The NC cadre will have to work overtime to take the state to those years when people used to live in harmony, Abdullah said.

He said he was aware of the youths' problems and resolute to solving them once his party is provided the opportunity to serve the state.

Omar Abdullah also said that Assembly polls should be held "as soon as possible" in Jammu and Kashmir to put in place an elected government to run affairs of the state, which is under the President's rule.

Taking a dig at some politicians and bureaucrats for "creating hurdles" in holding of elections of Assembly jointly with Parliament elections in the state, he said "we want that polls should be held as soon as possible in the state and an elected government in the state is formed so that they run the affairs of state."

The former chief minister also took a dig at Governor Satya Pal Malik over his reported remarks that J&K is like any other state and Patna records more murders in a day than J&K.

"To say Jammu and Kashmir is like any other state, it is wrong. If this Governor, who has been Governor of Bihar before, says like this, then Nitish Kumar (Bihar CM) has to clarify," he said.

Abdullah said Article 370, Article 35-A and accession differentiate Jammu and Kashmir from other states.

He said his party has not changed its stand on Article 35-A, which guarantees special rights and privileges to permanent residents of the state, and is doing whatever possible to defend it.

Referring to prominent political leaders joining the NC, Adbullah decried the statement of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, describing leaders leaving her party as "garbage". He said the statement speaks volumes about "lowest depths" of political discourse.

He said large-scale desertions in the PDP are reflective of the "anger" among people for the "miseries" caused to them during the past three-and-half years.

Omar said a number of youths were taking to arms on a "monthly basis" due to "shrinking" spaces and job opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also said the increase in militancy-related violence was alarming and disturbing, and that militancy had revisited the areas which were declared militancy-free.

“Compared to just a dozen or more youths drawn towards militancy in a span of years during my tenure as chief minister, far more than this number are taking to arms on monthly basis now," the National Conference (NC) vice-president said.

He was addressing a day-long convention of the Youth National Conference's Jammu chapter at the Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here.

“In my tenure (as chief minister), the Chenab Valley had been declared as a militancy-free zone, but now acts of terror are reported from there," he said.

The NC leader was referring to the killing of a BJP leader in Kishtwar and the Sunjwan attack last year.

“Terror activities have, unfortunately, become routine in the Kashmir Valley and due to lack of vision it is spreading to other parts as well,” Abdullah said.

The former chief minister accused the BJP and the PDP "for shrinking the space for youths by throttling avenues of jobs for them, resulting in alienation".

He alleged that initiatives like Himayat, Udaan and SKEPWY, initiated between 2009 and 2014, were either abandoned or pushed to the back-burner by the previous PDP-BJP government, depriving youths of jobs.

Whatever little jobs were provided in the PDP-BJP government's misrule of three-and-half years, have gone to their kin, relatives or favourites but not to the genuine, deserving and poor educated unemployed youths, Abdullah alleged.

He also alleged that PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had a "anti-youth mindset" during her recent term as chief minister and questioned her “moral grandstanding” in seeking support of youngsters by expressing so-called remorse over mayhem unleashed by her government against them to placate the BJP.

“Ms Mufti must not mistake public memory too short, as not to remember her 2016 doctrine that the guns in the hands of the security forces were not just for showcasing but using”, he said and referred to killing and maiming of teenagers.

Replying to a question on youths joining militancy in the state, Abdullah said he does not justify what they do.

"I have never justified the use of militancy to achieve political gains. I always believed that J&K is a political problem and hence needs political handling and a political solution, which can be arrived at via dialogue," the former chief minister said.

Meanwhile, Omar Abdullah Tuesday termed as "politically motivated" a bill introduced by the Centre in Lok Sabha that seeks to amend Constitution to provide 10 percent reservation quota to economically weaker sections from the general category.

The NC vice-president also trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the government introducing the reservation bill in Parliament on the last day of the Winter Session, saying "had PM been sincere, he would not have waited for nearly four-and-half years".

"You (BJP) have majority in Parliament for past four-and-half years, but you did not find it (bill) necessary. But on the last day of the last session of the current Lok Sabha, you (BJP government) bring this bill and create a new category. It is straight way politics being done and people are being fooled," Abdullah told reporters here.

He questioned the timing of the bill, saying: "I have problem with the timing. As far as the bill is concerned, it will be decided by Parliament or court. My question is about the timing. How come this reservation become suddenly necessary?"

Hitting out at PM Modi for announcing reservation for economically weaker sections belonging to upper castes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Abdullah said, "Politics is a strange thing and politicians are masters in using the people. They think people are naive and gullible."

"Prime Minister suddenly announced reservation. Had he been sincere, he would not have waited for nearly five years," Abdullah said.

The former chief minister attributed the decision to BJP's defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana Assembly polls.

"The person (PM), who wants to do it with a clear intention, would not wait for so long. They were defeated in elections in MP, Chatisgarh, Rajasthan and Telengana, and have suddenly woken up to announce this 10 per reservation. They have no intent to give reservation. If they would have clear intention, they would have given it earlier. Their intention is clear that it would not get through (in Parliament)," Abdullah added.

Pointing towards its use in the 2019 general elections, Abdullah said, "If the bill doesn't get passed, the BJP will say that they tried but Parliament didn't pass it and they will offer the same excuse if it is defeated in the court."

Asked whether he supports quota for the poor category among the upper caste, Abdullah said if it does not violate the Supreme Court direction of 50 percent quota and there is consensus among all political parties, he has no reservation with it.

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