Kashmiris will never leave India: Farooq Abdullah
New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) India should not doubt Kashmiris and stop thinking they will ever 'leave this nation', says former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah.
'Kashmir will remain a part of India and Kashmiris will never leave this nation. You should not doubt us. India should stop thinking that Kashmiris will ever divide off from India,' Abdullah told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of a function organised here Tuesday evening to celebrate his 73rd birthday.
The Kashmir issue, he said, 'will be solved peacefully only if India and people at the helm (in New Delhi) stop thinking that Kashmiris will ever secede'.
'I am a Muslim. I am Kashmiri and I am a proud citizen of India, the country whose unity in diversity amazes me,' Abdullah, who is also president of the ruling National Conference in the state, stated.
The former chief minister appreciated the central government's move of 'quiet diplomacy' to solve the problems in the state that has been ravaged by a two-decade separatist war.
'It (resuming dialogue) is a good move. I think New Delhi is sincere this time and the other side (separatist leaders) is also serious,' Abdullah said, adding 'there should be no hype if the Kashmir issue is to be solved sincerely'.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had announced in Kashmir last week that the central government was working 'on quiet diplomacy to arrive at a unique, acceptable and honourable solution to the problems in Kashmir', raising expectations that the stalled talks with separatist leaders would resume.
The moderate faction of the separatist Hurriyat Conference has indicated its willingness to talk to New Delhi saying it was a 'positive development'.
Abdullah said New Delhi should learn lessons from past mistakes of giving 'too much hype' to the Kashmir peace process -- which led to the brutal killing of a Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, Abdul Majid Dar, who had agreed to hold talks with the central government after he declared a ceasefire in 2000. Dar was expelled from the outfit and was later shot dead by militants in March 2002.
Abdullah said dialogue to encompass all shades of opinion was 'inevitable and it seems New Delhi has recognised the fact'.
'They are sincere,' he reiterated, adding that some political prisoners had been released. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also holding a meeting to implement the recommendations of the five working groups set up to look into the problems in the state.
Earlier, addressing an invited audience at the function organised by the Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity, Abdullah said India wanted peace with Pakistan.
'We don't hate you (Pakistan). We feel sad to see what is happening (in Pakistan). We want a friendship with you but please allow us to live happily,' he said while expressing concern over rising terrorism in the neighbouring country.
Abdullah urged politicians not to mix religion with politics. 'Every election in India divides the nation because elections are being fought on religious sentiments. People are seeking votes in the name Ram and Allah.
'Please don't do this. I and my state have paid dearly for religious radicalism. Please listen to the heartbeats of the people of India. They want to live in peace and harmony. Don't divide them,' an emotional Abdullah told the gathering, which also included former ministers Vasant Sathe and M.M. Jacob as well as former Jammu and Kashmir governor and ex RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) chief G.C. Saxena.
Kashmiris will never leave India: Farooq Abdullah - Yahoo! India News