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Shun violence, will talk to you: GUV to youth

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Says ‘nothing to worry about’ on Article 370, 35-A; delimitation ‘just a rumour’; corruption in J&K second to none; cancelled 2 govt deals that involved Rs 300 crore kickbacks

Srinagar, Jun 12: Governor Satya Pal Malik Wednesday asked the Kashmiri youth to shun violence and invited them to talks, saying 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," Malik said at a marathon press briefing on the achievements of his administration.

"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.

Obviously referring to the militants though he used term ‘youth’, Governor said they 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.

Malik said the problem of militancy exists in Kashmir not only due to unemployment among youth, but also because politicians have been misleading the people for the past several decades.

"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 said.

Malik said the people have been shown the dream of 'azadi' (independence) 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.

Speaking about the presence of the Islamic State in Kashmir, the Governor said, "These are ways of destruction of Kashmir."

Referring to the decimation of LTTE, which he said was far more powerful militant group and “enjoyed support of ten countries”, Malik exhorted the youth to give up arms.

"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.

Malik called on the political leaders to help bring back the youth to the mainstream society.

"They have to muster the courage and tell them. I request the mainstream leaders, preachers and intelligentsia to bring back these youth (to the mainstream) and whatever is needed for their rehabilitation, we will do it," he said.

He also used the low voting percentage in Kashmir to target mainstream groups saying who do they think represent when so very few people vote here. “First they must try and encourage the people to participate in elections, in fact we all must tell people that vote is the ultimate weapon with which they can get what they want,” Malik said.

"In every insurgency, there comes a time when fatigue sets in. That time has come in Kashmir," he added.

Asked about Pakistan's role in the situation in Kashmir, Malik said the neighbouring country is in trouble.

"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.

"Whatever you want to get, take it within this system. There is demoralisation and fatigue factor in Pakistan, but still they do not give up, camps are running there as earlier," he said.

Malik said the security forces are alert and infiltrators are dealt with within 10 kilometres of the Line of Control.

"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 past 50 years," he added.

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.

Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, who was also present at the briefing along with advisors to the governor, said the EC has given a unanimous statement that an announcement about Assembly elections in the state will be made after the Amarnath Yatra.

Responding to a question about the challenge to Articles 370 and 35-A 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 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.

Meanwhile, in a startling claim, Governor Satya Pal Malik said Rs 300 crore would have changed hands as kickbacks, had he not cancelled two deals between the state government and private companies after taking charge last year.

He claimed that the prevalence of corruption was more in Kashmir than in the rest of the country as "the ruling elite was itself involved" in it.

"As far as corruption is concerned, after I came here, I cancelled two deals in which Rs 150 crore each was agreed upon (as kickbacks). I spoke to secretaries and they admitted that such a thing had happened. Very powerful people were involved," Malik told a press conference here, without providing details of the deals.

He claimed that some of the people involved in these cancelled deals were so powerful that they had "direct approach up to the prime minister".

On one of the deals, Malik said, "I asked the PM if I had the permission to cancel this deal or I will sign on the paper and will not continue (as Governor)."

He said while the government will catch the small fry any time, even the big fish will not be spared.

"We are under the scanner of the Centre and the prime minister. You can rest assured that a beginning has been made," he said.

Malik said the state government has reconstituted the Anti-Corruption Bureau and some cases have been referred to it.

"Some cases have been sent to it including some cases where people up to the rank of ministers were involved. You will come to know about it in a few days," he said.

The Governor said although he had been in public life for 50 years, he had to seek a bank loan to pay for a flat.

"I was taking care of studies of an orphan. When my wife was suffering from cancer, she told me to give her a flat. I had to take a bank loan to pay Rs 50 lakh that was to be paid in white even though I have been an MLA, MP and minister four times. So I have no fear...I will deal with it (corruption) very strictly," he added.

The Governor said while there were many clean and honest secretaries in the government, he would request those indulging in minor corruption to stop it.

"Corruption is there and corruption is more in Kashmir than in rest of the country. The reason for it is that the ruling elite was itself involved in it. Now that is not going to happen.

"A politician once told me that you are maligning (them). I told him I am not maligning anyone. Everywhere in the country they ask for two per cent, in Kashmir they ask for 12 per cent. That is why no investments come here. If you want to open a restaurant, it takes four years to get the licence," he said.

Malik said even victims of militancy-related violence had to pay bribes to get appointment orders on compassionate grounds.

Chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam said as part of an anti-corruption campaign, the government has formed several fact-finding committees of senior secretaries with impeccable reputation.

"They will submit reports this month. The action will be taken immediately. This is extremely important for us. Our ACB is as powerful as CBI," he said.

The chief secretary said the government has given teeth to the ACB for dealing with the menace of corruption.

"We have amended the act in December. All of this takes time; we cannot pounce on anyone with a toothless body. The lion's teeth need to be sharpened and that is what we have done. It is a very powerful body with zero tolerance for corruption. Those who have done something wrong are going to face consequences," he added.

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