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Kashmiris Unhappy As Autonomy Was Whittled Away: Omar Abdullah

He said Jammu and Kashmir was different from other parts of the country and "we need to recognise that".

Mumbai: The erosion of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, which was granted to the state at the time of its accession to the Indian Union, made its people angry, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said Saturday.

Speaking at an event organised by the United States Consulatehere, Abdullah said the root of the Kashmir problem lay in its “troubled politics” and it could not be solved without a political engagement.

He said Jammu and Kashmir was different from other parts of the country and “we need to recognise that”.

Abdullah said on August 14 and 15, 1947, not two but three nations emerged — India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, whose ruler refused to merge with either India or Pakistan.

“Tribal invaders accompanied by regular Pakistani Army invaded a part of my state, continue to occupy it even today and perhaps in some way, Jammu and Kashmir’s destiny was written there,” the former chief minister said.

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Stating that even after becoming part of India, the state “held on to its distinct identity”, Abdullah said initially the Union was to be responsible only for currency, communication, defence and foreign affairs, and everything else was the domain of the state.

“I am not for a moment suggesting that was the perfect situation but that’s what existed. Over time that situation has gradually been whittled over and eroded to a point where the autonomous Jammu and Kashmir that existed in 1947…is a pale shadow of what exists today,” he said.

“Obviously people will get angry,” he said.

Omar Abdullah
Omar Abdullah (L) PM Modi (R)

At the same time, Abdullah also said the Centre alone could not be blamed for Kashmir’s woes.

“State players, whether it is my party or other political parties, we have our own responsibilities as well which we can not shy away from,” he said.

The Kashmir problem did not arise because of lack of development and jobs, but these factors only contributed to it, while “the cause lies in Jammu and Kashmir’s troubled politics”, Abdullah said.

“Unless we address the problem and engage with the state politically, this problem won’t stop,” he said.

“At best at the moment there are probably 500-600 militants. Not every young Kashmiri is carrying a gun today. Not every young Kashmiri is throwing stones today. But if you were to switch on TV at 9 pm for debates, that is all you will see….(the perception that) all Kashmiris are violent, anti-nationals and pro-Pakistanis. You push people to the walls (through such portrayal),” Abdullah said.

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