Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said that he does not believe in crushing terrorism by killing terrorists and that terrorism “is in the mind”, Hindustan Times reported on Monday. Malik said it was his job to regain the trust of the youth in the state as they have no faith in the political parties and are annoyed with the Indian government.
Malik took charge of the state in August, two months after it was placed under Governor’s rule in the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party walking out of its ruling alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi favours a dialogue and I appeal to them to give up the gun and come talk to me,” he told the newspaper in an interview. “Mistakes were made in the past by Delhi and Srinagar. I concede that elections were rigged. People were let down by their own leaders. My message to them is: you have Articles 370 and 35A; come to the table, and we are ready to give you anything under the Indian Constitution,” the governor said, adding that the youth in the state were disappointed with Pakistan too. Article 370 of the Constitution bestows “special status” on Jammu and Kashmir while Article 35A gives the Assembly legal sanction to provide special privileges to “permanent residents” of the state.
Malik also urged the separatist Hurriyat leadership to take an independent stand and said he will work towards creating an environment to reach out to them. “I don’t consider Pakistan a stakeholder, rather, I’d say they are trouble makers,” he said.
Malik said former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told separatist leaders to get concessions from New Delhi by engaging in dialogue because India was a superpower. “He [Musharraf] told them he would not be able to change the Line [of Control],” Malik said. “He had told them that neither India nor Pakistan can afford a war and that they should negotiate concessions for Kashmir.”
Malik said not a single youth has joined militancy since he took over as governor and stone-pelting incidents have reduced. “I am trying to change the narrative and striving to make the youth feel that we are not at war with them.”
Malik said the killing of civilians was wrong and urged political parties in the state to advise youngsters to stay away from encounter sites and stop stone pelting. “Omar [Abdullah] and Madam [Mehbooba Mufti] have agreed with me on this privately but are not willing to say it openly.”
When asked about diluting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Malik said, “We can’t even have a discussion on AFSPA, leave alone diluting it.” The Act gives security personnel sweeping powers to arrest, search and even kill and a degree of immunity from prosecution in areas that have been declared “disturbed”.
On Article 35A, Malik said the people of the state need not worry. “I don’t think any changes will be made.” Malik clarified that the people who have challenged it “neither represent the BJP”, nor do they represent Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Malik termed the kidnapping of families of policemen as an aberration. He said he has asked the police chief to not detain anyone. “My effort has been convert the governor’s house into the people’s home,” he added.