Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday called on India to ‘wake up’, and warned New Delhi that: “You are losing Kashmir.”
In a stinging interview with IndiaToday, Abdullah, who is contesting by-polls in Srinagar, urged India and Pakistan to hold talks to beat the threat of terrorism.
“Whether you like it or not, you have to talk to Pakistan. If you want to beat the threat of the terrorists, then you better start talking now,” he said, apparently addressing the Indian government.
“You better wake up, and start thinking on not a military solution, but a political way,” he said, cautioning the government against the use of force in India-held Kashmir. “And come down from your high horses… I am seeing a very bad situation,” he said.
“The youth is on boil, which I have not seen before,” he said.
Abdullah, who served as the chief minister of India-held Jammu and Kashmir from 1982 to 1984, also held Pakistan partially responsible for the situation in Kashmir.
“The situation is quite bad, and don’t tell me Pakistan is not a party to this problem,” he added.
The National Conference chief urged all stakeholders to “start mending our fences and start controlling the present problem.”
“Let’s talk to the youth, Hurriyat, other leaders, and come to a solution,” he reasoned.
In the latest surge of violence in India-held Kashmir, at least six people were killed and more than two dozen injured on April 9, when police clashed with protesters during a by-election in Srinagar in India-held Kashmir region.
Suspected separatist factions in Kashmir had called for a boycott of the vote, resulting in heightened security and low voter turnout when the polling began.
The former minister’s words follow a day after Pakistan handed the death sentence to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, and an Indian campaign to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan by terming it a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ in the backdrop.
Both countries have locked horns over the Kashmir issue since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July 2016.
Violent protests raged in held Kashmir after Wani’s murder, and Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters to quell the dissent, also imposing a curfew in the region for months.
The frequency of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control has also risen since the second half of 2016. Exchanges of fire across the border have been reported sporadically since the new year began.