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Violence not the solution, AI hijacker Qureshi tells Kashmiris

Sumir Kaul and Amitabha Roychowdhury/Press Trust of India

Posted: Jan 10, 2002 at 1513 hrs IST

Asserting that he stood for "positive politics" in troubled Jammu and Kashmir, Hashim Qureshi, charged with the first hijack in the Indian aviation history, said on Thursday there was no place for violence in resolving the Kashmir issue and asked the local leadership to abjure violence forthwith.

"There is no party in the state which stands for positive politics ... I have chosen to return to India, not only to face trial (on hijack charges) but also to give the message that there is no place for violence," Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP) leader Hashim Qureshi said.

Stating that the "main problem" facing the state was that of the gun, Qureshi, who is out on bail in the hijack case, said "you have to speak up" against it as the gun has taken thousands of lives and caused massive destruction.

"The fear of the gun makes a strike called in the state by vested interests successful. Kashmiri leadership should immediately reject the politics of gun and declare it as number one enemy of the Kashmiris," he said. He added, the Hurriyat Conference too had "made a business of militancy".

"Only the poor Kashmiri is killed in the process," he said while condemning the terror strikes on Parliament, the State Assembly in Srinagar and the September 11 US attacks as "naked terrorism".

Castigating Pakistan for fomenting trouble in Kashmir, Qureshi, a co-founder of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), said, "The politics of the gun is a necessity with Pakistan army. Likewise Indian security forces and some Indian extremist politicians too find a necessity in continuing the policy of gun."

"But have the Kashmiris and their leadership ever tried to ask what they have got out of this gun? The answer is that they got nothing but death and destruction," he said. Asked why did he decide to return to India from The Netherlands, Qureshi said: "I did not come here as Laldenga or even as Nelson Mandela to head a government. I chose to return on my own to strive to repay my debt to the motherland." Qureshi said he had also come back to tell the people to abjure violence as that would lead them nowhere.

Asked how would he proceed in the political arena of the state, Qureshi said his thrust was on taking up issues of restoring secular values in the polity, women's issues, unemployment and those relating to economic development in the state.

He said he had already opened women's vocational training centres in different parts of the state like Kupwara, Sopore, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Banihal and Doda, where women, especially those whose kin had been killed due to militancy, were being trained. "Women have been the worst sufferers of the decade-old militancy," he stated.

In a veiled attack on Pakistan, Qureshi said Kashmiris should not be blamed for the December 13 attack on Parliament and suggested that some outside agencies had done it in their name. "It is someone or some agencies acting in the name of Kashmiris carrying out the attack on democratic institutions of the country," Qureshi said.

About the Kashmiri people arrested in the case, he said, "These are some misguided people, whose brain is fixed with a fundamentalistic chip... But they do not represent the entire sentiments of Kashmiris."

He said religious extremism had engulfed the entire world which had brought a bad name to the Muslims. "The impression everywhere is that Muslims are extremists... When we say that Islam is the second largest religion in the world, one really wonders where is a threat to Islam."

Qureshi also said that Hurriyat Conference had failed to perform as a political platform in the state and was only acting as stooges of Islamabad. "India allows Hurriyat leaders to meet anyone in Pakistan High Commission but a similar facility is not given to people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.

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