India Today TV Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai spoke to National Conference leader and former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah over the spate of violence that Kashmir is facing.
Farooq Abdullah said even radical Islam must know that Islam doesn’t permit killing innocents. These people are doing wrong, for which hell is waiting for them, he added. Excerpts:
Q: Is this a return of the cycle of violence in Kashmir?
We have been thinking of this for a long time. The minute the abrogation of Article 370 took place, we were expecting that things would not get better, they would certainly get worse, and they have got worse.
Q: With seven targeted killings, the fear is we could go back to 1990
If you remember, it’s not just seven killings. There have been 28 killings, out of which 21 are Muslims. So, this has been continuing for some time. It’s only now that people are waking up when non-Muslims have also been targeted.
Q: You’re not linking it to the abrogation of Article 370. Why not first unqualifiedly condemn the violence?
Don’t you think the government has been saying from the first day that demonetisation and the removal of Article 370 are bringing peace to the state? Don’t you see that? I never said that; they said it. They said what was happening before would not happen. So, why don’t you remember that? They were saying there is peace and peace and peace. Is there peace?
Q: Can we at least have a stronger reaction? Why don’t all politicians come together and speak in one voice? Is Kashmiriyat simply on paper?
I don’t know about one voice. But we have spoken, and we have spoken very firmly. I was the first man to go to Bindroo’s house; I had tears in my eyes because the man was good. He never moved from Kashmir in the last 30 years. In the 1990s, when things were bad, Bindroo never left. Bindroo stayed. Even when he was asked to leave, he said no, this is my home.
Q: Mr Bindroo was a symbol of Kashmiriyat. So when he is gunned down, where does it leave the whole notion of Kashmiriyat? Should the recruitment of young Kashmiris as terrorists worry you?
Don’t you see what’s happening in the rest of the country? How Muslims are being targeted? Don’t you think that influence will be on our young people here? When they have no jobs, and 50,000 jobs were promised. What do you think they will do? When you see Muslim officers undermined, and everybody is brought from outside, how do you think they will feel?
Q: I’m sorry to say, but that cannot be an explanation for violence. You cannot be seen to rationalise violence. Violence against innocent civilians is unacceptable. We cannot go down to the roots theory. That’s unacceptable.
We don’t welcome this damn thing that’s happened. We think it’s a terrible thing that’s happened. None of us thinks this is right. This is the worst thing that can happen. Even radical Islam must know that Islam doesn’t permit killing innocents. It’s very clear in Islam. These people are doing wrong, for which the hell is waiting for them.
Q: Do you see the light at the end of what seems to be a dark tunnel?
There will always be a bright light at the end of the tunnel. We all have to work for it. The government of India has to work for it. We, the majority community of the state, have to work for it. It’s on us that this must not happen.
Q: How will Kashmiri civil society and politicians come together to defeat the gun?
What the Prime Minister said Dil se doori, Delhi se doori. It’s for the government of India to remove that doori. That distance has to be shortened. No one here wants these killings of innocents. Not a single soul.
Q: Why don’t people speak more strongly? Is it fear?
Everybody has spoken strongly. Tell me of one person who has not spoken strongly.
Q: What will it take to end this cycle of violence?
The best thing would be if India and Pakistan sit down and work out peace. It will make a great change. We have always been saying the same thing please get to the table and talk, for God’s sake.
Q: Talk about what? Isn’t Pakistan the elephant in the room, which is actually responsible for training, recruiting and sponsoring terror in Kashmir? Unless Pakistan stops the flow of guns to the Valley, what are we going to talk about
Guns will keep coming unless there is peace in the sub-continent. When will we understand this? How long will it take us to understand this? Both nations are nuclear powers. The people of J&K are suffering the most. If you wait till the last gun stops firing, then we will wait forever. You have to catch the bull by the horn and start talking now. Not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow. Now. Look at the divide between Hindus and Muslims in this country. This worries me. And this is why it’s growing. I will sacrifice even my life if it brings this nation back on the rails. We need prayers from all during Navratra to save this nation.