July 19, 2002


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The Rediff Interview/Kuka Parray

'Kashmir is the crown of India'

Kuka Parray, a counter-insurgent-turned-politician, has slammed Pakistan and its Inter Services Intelligence directorate for instigating innocent Kashmiri youth towards violence in the name of jihad.

The chairman of the Awami League and chief of the pro-India Ikhwan-surrendered militants said Pakistan's claim of supporting the Kashmiris in their fight against India was 'nonsense.'

In an exclusive interview to Onkar Singh in New Delhi, Parray -- who is planning to rope in other political outfits for the coming assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir -- pointed out that Pakistan was only interested in grabbing Kashmiri territory and was unconcerned about the Kashmiri people.

Pakistan has been aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism in the name of supporting the Kashmiri cause.

Everyone in the world knows that Pakistan has a hidden agenda behind the so-called jihad for the Kashmiri cause. I can tell you Pakistan only wants the land of Jammu and Kashmir minus the Kashmiris. The sooner the people of Kashmir realise this the better it would be.

Do you believe that the assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir should be held under governor's rule?

I definitely support this move. Because the present government of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be trusted. The people of Jammu and Kashmir should not only participate in the election but we must also ensure that only those [votes] which are cast by the people of the state come out of the boxes. People have lost faith in the present government.

But the 1996 election was held under governor's rule. What went wrong then?

It is true that the election in the state were held under governor's rule in 1996 and the National Conference swept to power. The people were happy that an elected government had come to power and the new rulers would take care of their needs. But what did Dr Farooq Abdullah do for the people of Jammu and Kashmir? You go and meet the people and they will tell you how angry they are with him. He has not done anything for the people of Kashmir. So much so that even the political parties have lost faith in him. That is why we want to have elections under governor's rule.

Will you participate in the election?

Of course, we will participate in the election. We participated in the 1996 election when most of the political parties were scared to contest the election.

I was one of those who can take credit for holding an election in Jammu and Kashmir in 1996. I lost a number of men during the election campaign. I have so far lost more then 600 surrendered militants who had joined hands with me in counter-insurgency operations against terrorists operating in Kashmir. The present government of Jammu and Kashmir is a dangerous government.

Why can't you have a free and fair election under Dr Abdullah's government?

Free and fair elections have been a major problem in Jammu and Kashmir. If we look at the rest of the Indian states then we will find that citizens of those states have a right to vote. This right is not being extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. If free and fair polls are held in the state then all those who are feeling alienated will come back to the mainstream. If that happens then it would be for the good of the country. But if that happens then President's rule should also be extended to the state of Gujarat. You have seen how the minority community was treated by the administration in the last few months. Because elections are scheduled to be held in Gujarat as well.

Why have you described the National Conference as a dangerous party?

Dr Farooq Abdullah's government has betrayed the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The rulers are plundering the state development money. Instead of using the money for the welfare of the people they simply pocket the money and use it for their personal ends. Ministers in the Abdullah government have bought properties not only in Srinagar, Jammu but also in Delhi.

There is another aspect to this. The major political parties are getting their rivals killed for the sake of getting some electoral gains here and there.

I have been asking the people of Jammu and Kashmir to participate in the state election. I have held several major rallies in Jammu and Srinagar in recent weeks. I have even asked the Hurriyat Conference to take part in the electoral process.

Pakistan claims they are the true supporters of the people of Kashmir.

Ask those who are living in so-called Azad Kashmir. The Mirpuris and the rest. Their plight is worse then us. I would say we are far better off than Kashmiris living across the Line of Control. We have got letters from those people who have been pleading with the Government of India to free them from Pakistan's clutches.

Kashmir is the crown of India. It would remain so in future as well. I would say the people of Kashmir would sacrifice anything to retain this crown with India.

Jamaat-i-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani claims a merger with Pakistan is the ultimate solution to the Kashmir problem.

Who is he to decide what is good for the people of Kashmir? He has been misleading young Kashmiris to take up guns in the name of jihad. But if you look at him, you will find that his sons and daughters have had a good education in the best of Indian schools. They are doing well in life. He has been totally exposed. People of the state know he has been misleading the people of Kashmir. They know his policies are anti-Kashmir and they do not want to follow him.

There are times when it is alleged that your men have indulged in looting and extortion. Is that true?

I categorically deny that any of my men have ever indulged in looting and extortion. I would like to tell you that the National Conference has a large number of trained youth who go by the name of surrendered militants and they indulge in extortion etc. They do the bad work and my organisation gets a bad name. Some of them work with the Border Security Force, some with the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the rest with the Special Task Force. My men are a disciplined lot and do not indulge in crime.

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