Exclusive Interview with Sartaj Madni, Deputy Speaker of the J&K Assembly : Priorities And Challenges: The Road Ahead

What are the basic problems of Jammu and Kashmir, what does the public there want, what are the drawbacks and what are the things that should be done so that happiness can return to the general public and a glow of satisfaction be seen on their faces? Chauthi Duniya Editor-in-Chief Santosh Bhartiya recently conducted a lengthy interview with the Deputy Speaker of the Jammu-Kashmir Assembly, Sartaj Madni. Here are some key excerpts …


pririties-and-challengesIn your view what are the priorities of Jammu-Kashmir?
The first priority that is there is the problem of Jammu-Kashmir, which is a political problem. That should be the first priority. In the name of the problem of Jammu-Kashmir, thousands of people, be it people in uniform or without uniform, in them there are militants, there are common people, have been killed. Now after the deaths of so many people, after the spilling of so much blood, if Jammu-Kashmir doesn’t get anything at the political level, then I feel that there will be no bigger injustice than this. The talk of development is after this.

Then what should be received, political ‘what’?
Something or the other such thing should be received, through which the people of Jammu-Kashmir feel that…

Like, some one-two things?
In the Constitution also there are so many things. With regard to Kashmir, look at the Constitution of India. If section 370 be taken literally to the point from where it started, then I feel that something or the other will be gained by Jammu-Kashmir. As far as development is concerned, then first of all there is the flood. The devastation that the flood has caused, it should be compensated. Take the instance of my own election constituency. When the situation before the flood is seen and now, then a very big difference is evident. To bring back a situation like before, at least 200 crore rupees are needed. I had spent 5 crore rupees on a project for flood protection. Today when I see the new project which the Flood Control Department has made, then it is of 25 crore rupees. This means that the amount this project now needs is 5 times more. Similarly roads, bridges and houses of people which were destroyed in the flood have to be re-constructed.

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But now in the plan of development that will be there i.e. the programme of rehabilitation that will be there, in that if real development, which generates employment, is not included and programmes are not made in a new way, then what is it that is new that are you doing ?
See, employment is important, it is important to end unemployment, because since many days the youth of Jammu-Kashmir are being crushed. Ever since militancy has started here, since then itself unemployment has increased. People started running away from here, boys from here started running. Now our difficulty is that industry gets developed in Jammu-Kashmir. Not at all in Kashmir, there is a little bit in Jammu. But it is not in the manner that it should be. Employment too is a very important issue in Jammu-Kashmir. Now if you will link this to militancy, then it is not so. Here a lot of people say that militancy was born because youth here are unemployed. In my thinking it is not right to see the problem in this manner, because you will see how highly educated, people employed in high positions too were a part of militancy.
I am in politics since 12-13 years. I have seen what people want, what they need. If I speak as a common man, then in my election constituency people don’t see development so much, as much as they see your availability. You remain available, remain in touch with each person. After that a little bit development takes place itself if you have a plan. The term of this State Government was ending on January 19 this year. After that it was necessary that if Kashmir has to be rehabilitated, then a plan for 6 years be made and it be decided that this work we will do this year and that work next year. Employment is also important. Employment has to be given to the youth of Jammu-Kashmir. 5-6 lakh educated youth are sitting idle, who want employment. I have said earlier too that an experienced person who has a vision should sit on the chair. When Mr. Mufti came in 2002, then at that time the situation of Kashmir was very bad. On one side the Task Force and Army was there, on the other side Ikhwan was there, on the third side the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was there. People were not able to come out. Mufti Sahib came, then overnight the Army had left the streets. From the side of the Army no action of suppression took place. In three years Mufti Sahib did a lot of things because he had experience, he had a vision about what is needed in Jammu-Kashmir. At that time what was most important was this that the youth, elderly and women of Jammu-Kashmir wanted respect — their respect, self-esteem had been lost, that should have been returned. An old man had to walk with a youthful Army for half-half kilometer with raised hands. At that time Mufti Sahib brought Kashmir out of such an atmosphere.
I feel that if Mufti Sahib returns to power, then there will be no problem in how Kashmir should be re-established, the political issue that is there of Kashmir, till where it has to be taken. You might remember that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had come to Kashmir as Prime Minister during Mufti Sahib’s term, then Mufti Sahib had said one thing to him — that these people who are standing in front of you, they don’t want any package from you, don’t demand anything from you. They only want to spend a respectful and peaceful life. At which Vajpayeeji had taken out his hand and had said that I want to extend the hand of friendship towards Pakistan. Jammu- Kashmir at this time needs someone like Mufti Sahib, who can take it politically and economically forward.

Much less of militancy is seen now, do you think that militancy will gain or lose something from this flood?
Militancy may be less or more, most of the people of Jammu-Kashmir want — and I will talk about myself– it is there in my mind too that something or the other Jammu- Kashmir should get, because so much blood has been spilled, so many sacrifices the people made. Now it is a matter of obstinacy. If nothing is received, then Jammu- Kashmir will go on like this. Militancy may be less or more, militancy will not get finished. Everyone says that on a political level something or the other Jammu- Kashmir should get. You can’t suppress it from development, can’t suppress it from employment, can’t suppress it from rehabilitation. This will remain, definitely remain.

What do you think – out of all the political groups that are there, four can be seen — the PDP is there, the Congress is there, the National Conference is there and the BJP is there. Out of these 4 how many people of which party can win, do you have an idea?
See, if the results of the Lok Sabha elections are seen, then in Kashmir all three seats the PDP won. At that time we had a lead on 41 assembly seats. If seen in that respect, then the PDP needs very little to form a Government. It is this that is in my view. Inshaallah, the PDP will be ahead of all others.

From your side who will be the candidate for Chief Minister?
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

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