Delhi's power elite, Farooq led to JK militancy: Soz

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz. (ANI/Twitter)

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz has put the blame at the doors of the "power elite in Delhi" and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah for the rise of militancy in Kashmir.

He claims that their attempt to retain power "at any cost" in 1987 and subsequent "rigging" of elections led to such a situation though he qualifies it saying, none can take the position "finally and decisively" that the election malpractices was the "sole reason" for causing "unrest in the minds of the youths".

Though Soz does name Abdullah, he does not name those in the "power elite" who were "backed by intelligence agencies" in the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi while acknowledging that the militancy was "visibly sponsored" by Pakistan.

In his new book 'Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle', which will be released on Monday, Soz also says he feels that Musharaff's assessment that Kashmiris prefer independence is correct.

Giving his version about the turn of events, Soz says the militancy carried, "in some measure, communal undertones", but it needs to be "largely ascribed" to political factors that "ignited the fire".

"The most important question often raised was, though the militancy was a sponsored situation, how did the Kashmiri youth get attracted to it and willingly agree to receive training in arms in Pakistan-held Kashmir? The most plausible argument accepted was the rigging in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly polls of 1987 that led to a huge unrest among the youth," Soz claims.

He claims that the Muslim United Front (MUF) could have won at least 10 to 12 seats in the elections and it would have initiated a forward movement.

"Unfortunately, New Delhi’s power elite, backed by intelligence agencies and Farooq Abdullah (he represented a powerful position in the political arena of Kashmir), became restive and decided to retain power, so to say, at any cost. New Delhi not only fell in line, but also actively supported the stance of the National Conference. It would have been a priceless opportunity to allow the MUF to gain access to political dispensation in the state, which was legitimately its right," he writes.

Though Soz advised Congress top leadership not to enter into a pre-poll alliance with National Conference, he claims Abdullah was swayed into a pre-poll coalition that "manipulated" the elections.

"Soon after the results of 1987 elections, the atmosphere got surcharged and the MUF and its supporters raised an alarm. The MUF was not allowed to win as that was perceived to be a threat to the Union of India. The short-sighted politicians started learning a lesson that a bigger unacceptable situation than the MUF was taking shape, soon after the government was formed in 1987," he says.

Recalling that some candidates and election agents getting thrashed openly and jailed, Sozsaid one of the affected person was Peer Mohammad Yousuf Shah (now known as Syed Salahuddin, who heads United Jihad Council), who was contesting the polls. "He was browbeaten and his polling agents jailed. Around this time, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) seized the opportunity and tried to make best use of the atmosphere," he adds.

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Delhi's power elite, Farooq led to JK militancy: Soz

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