Hold plebiscite to assess Kashmiris’ mood in Kashmir, Rahul told

Srinagar, June 17, 2013 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, pro-freedom leaders and organizations have challenged India to hold referendum to assess the mood and sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Almost all the main freedom parties including, the forum led by Syed Ali Gilani, the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Democratic Freedom Party criticized the Congress vice-President, Rahul Gandhi for his statement that New Delhi had over the years “transformed the mood in Kashmir.”

They said if Gandhi believes that the mood in Kashmir has really changed “then it is right time for India to hold referendum in Jammu and Kashmir and solve the dispute once and for all.” They also challenged Gandhi to provide political space to pro-freedom parties to see the true sentiment of the people of Kashmir.

Gandhi, during his recent one-day visit to the Valley had said, “There is massive progress in Kashmir. There is a progress in the sentiment of the people.”

The veteran Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani said that Gandhi’s statement is “contradictory to the facts on ground as the pro-freedom sentiment in Kashmir can never be transformed.” “If Rahul Gandhi believes that mood among people have changed then India should hold referendum in Jammu and Kashmir which will solve the problem for ever,” the veteran leader said in a media interview.

“If the situation has really changed in Kashmir, why there is no political space for pro-freedom leaders and why there are restrictions on their movement,” he questioned.

The JKLF chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik said that if Gandhi was to be believed, then India should not miss the opportunity to hold a referendum in Kashmir and give right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir which they have been denied for the past 60 years.

Malik said Gandhi “should look into the situation to realize how India is pushing the Kashmiri youth towards armed struggle again.” He said that during the past two decades, “India tried to change the mindset of people by pumping money and boosting corruption at every level in the territory, but the Kashmiris did not change their political stance.”

Senior APHC leader and DFP Chairman, Shabbir Ahmad Shah said, “Problem will be solved for ever if referendum is held. If people of Kashmir vote for India all of us will accept it wholeheartedly.”

Speaking on the behalf of APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was not available for his comment, the media advisor of the party, Shahid-ul-Islam said, “I want to tell him that people of Kashmir showed their true sentiment in 2008 and 2010 when UPA was ruling India.”

APHC leader and Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement, Chairman Zafar Akbar Butt said that the Kashmiris wanted right to self-determination and not change in Kashmiris determination.

Meanwhile, the newly launched Awami Ittihaad Party (AIP) led by MLA Engineer Abdur Rasheed also reacted to Gandhi’s statement, saying “How can there possibly be a change in the sentiments and mood of the people in Kashmir when there has been no iota of change in the Delhi’s policy towards the Kashmiris as evidenced by such self-incriminating actions such as the hanging of Afzal Guru and the refusal to return his body to his family.”

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