Mufti tells media barons: “Indira-Abdullah Accord revived democratic process in J&K, dealt a blow to cynics”
‘Hate propagandists are a fringe minority, can’t derail agenda of peace and development’
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz______
SRINAGAR, Nov 20: In a significant contrast to his decades-long rhetoric of opposition to the National Conference founder late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his political ideology, Peoples Democratic Party supremo and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Friday hailed the 1975 Indira-Abdullah Accord and claimed that it had created space for politicians like him and neutralised Kashmir’s cynicism vis-à-vis accession to India.
In an exhaustive interaction with the Indian broadcast media magnates here, Mufti called the Indira-Abdullah Accord “an important event”. “It revived the democratic process in the state and created space for politicians of different shades, including me. It also dealt a blow to those who believed that J&K was remote-controlled by New Delhi”, Mufti asserted.
“I am thankful to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for exploding the myth by ensuring free and fair elections in 2002 which strengthened the democratic institutions and allowed parties like PDP to emerge on the political canvas of the state”, Chief Minister told the delegation of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), a think-tank of news and entertainment media, which, for the first time, held a Board of Directors (BoD) in Srinagar.
President IBF and CEO of Star India, Uday Shankar, Vice President IBF, Puneet Goenka, Vice President IBF & Chairman India TV, Rajat Sharma, Vice President IBF and Director Bangla Entertainment Pvt Limited, N. P. Singh, Treasurer IBF and GM South Asia of Discovery Networks, Rahul Johri, Director Eenadu TV, I. Venkat, Group CEO of Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd, Sudhanshu Vats, MD (South Asia) Turner International, Siddharth Jain, Chairman of TV Today Group, Arun Purie, MD of UTV Entertainment, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, and Member Finance Doordarshan, Rajeev Singh, were among the participants who interacted with Mufti.
Chief Minister had a word of caution over the threat posed by “certain fringe groups” to the country’s rich diversity and multiculturalism. “The agenda of development cannot take a back seat to the politics of hate propagated by a fringe minority which relishes media attention. We need to shrink their space by simply ignoring them,” he asserted. He called Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching to death in Dadri and Kashmiri trucker Zahid Rasool Bhat’s killing by a frenzied group in Udhampur “very unfortunate” but expressed his satisfaction over the way the people of both the communities “demonstrated great maturity and did not fall prey to the evil and nefarious designs of these enemies of the State who want to destroy the centuries-old harmony exhibited by the people”.
The peaceful conduct of Amarnath Yatra year after year, he said, was “an ample testimony to the secular credentials of the people of my state”. “I am happy that our Legislature set a great precedent by unanimously adopting a resolution in both the Houses, condemning violence in any form and sending out a clear message of peace and tolerance to the rest of the country”, Mufti said.
Pleading for restoration of New Delhi’s talks with Islamabad, Mufti said reiterated that relationship with Pakistan had a direct bearing on J&K. “Political uncertainty hampers state’s development. I strongly believe that all issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved amicably by engaging in a meaningful dialogue. I set the tone during my earlier tenure from 2002 to 2005 when we had a decade-long peace in the region”.
Mufti also advocated revival of dialogue with Hurriyat Conference and other Kashmiri separatists. “On internal front, we favour dialogue with all shades of opinion. Sajjad Gani Lone is one example. The government’s Agenda of the Alliance also favours dialogue with those who have ideological differences with us. We will continue to explore this option”, he said. He described the cross-LoC trade and travel as “the biggest confidence building measure between India and Pakistan”.