Srinagar: Kashmiri separatists on Sunday said that construction of Chenani-Nashri tunnel along the Jammu-Srinagar highway and other such ventures will not stop the people of the State from asking for their “inalienable” right to self determination. “I have said it before and I reiterate it today that even if India macadamizes the roads across the State instead of coal tar with layers of pure gold and diamonds, the people of Kashmir are not going to give up their inalienable right of self-determination,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
He asserted that Kashmir was a “serious and sensitive issue” which required “extraordinary and exemplary courage” from the Indian leadership to resolve it once for all. Endorsing him, Kashmir’s Chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who along with Mr. Geelani and JKLF’s Muhammad Yasin Malik form part of an alliance called ‘Joint Resistance Leadership’ said no development works howsoever important or costly may be can appease the “freedom-loving” people of Kashmir. “Kashmir is a political issue and not a problem related to governance, economic packages, incentives or law and order. It is about the future of 15 million people of the State," he said.
Mr. Malik in a statement from Srinagar Central Jail said that if tunnels and roads would have been a substitute to freedom and dignity then British should have never left India as they had developed Indian infrastructure enormously. Reacting to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, statement that the youth of the Valley have to choose between ‘tourism and terrorism’ and that their preference would determine their future, the separatist leader said that it was “absurd” to call these youth as “misguided.”
“British ruled India for more than 200 years and during that period they developed Indian infrastructure enormously. It was British who developed Indian railway system and irrigation canals that are proving beneficial to the people of whole subcontinent even today and if the standards of Modiji were to be applied then British should never have left India nor should have Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, Baghat Singh and Moulana Azad strived for freedom of India,” he said.
He added, “Our reply to Modiji is the same that was given by Gandhiji to a British envoy who had posed same type of question to him that how can poor Indian survive independently...(Gandhiji had retorted) that he would prefer a non-competent poor independent rule over a competent and wealthy slavery.”
Former Chief Minister and opposition National Conference (NC) president, Farooq Abdullah, too said that the tunnel was not an alternative to political initiative which, he insisted, was need of the house. “Chenani-Nashri tunnel is being portrayed as an alternative to a political initiative. It is yet another indication of a sustained effort to brush the political issue in Kashmir under the carpet,” he said.
Mr. Abdullah said that he welcomes the inauguration of the tunnel which was conceived, initiated and nearly completed during the tenure of the previous UPA government but would also like to say that while economic development and infrastructural growth is essential, the State would continue to suffer unless New Delhi takes a political initiative to resolve the longstanding political issue in consonance with the sentiments of the people.
He further said, “We have always maintained that economic packages and infrastructural projects cannot be alternatives to dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad and New Delhi and the stakeholders in Kashmir. Omar Abdullah said in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the inauguration of the rail-link in the Valley. He also said this on numerous occasions inside the Legislative Assembly. Unfortunately the current dispensation in the State has bartered its voice to remain in power and is watching as a mute spectator as its ally in New Delhi is creating a political vacuum in Kashmir that could have unimaginable consequences in the future”....