The man considered the architect of the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir now says that the only road to peace lies in a peaceful dialogue.
But Muhammad Azam Inquilabi is also passionately opposed to any coalition in the state between any regional party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as that would, he says, hurt Kashmir interests.
Inquilabi is the founding chairman of the militant umbrella group, the United Jehad Council (UJC), which is based in Muzaffarabad in that part of Kashmir held by Pakistan.
He claims to have crossed over to Pakistan eight times since a separatist insurgency erupted in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. But he has given up violence for good.
Disgruntled with violence, Inquilabi, 68, now talks of a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue involving India, Pakistan and the people of the state.
Educated in a Christian missionary school in Srinagar, Inquilabi heads a separatist political outfit, Mahaz-e-Azadi.
“I am averse to any alliance between Kashmir regional parties and the BJP,” Inquilabi told at his house here.
“I would like to see Kashmir regional parties maintain their stand safeguarding the regional character of Kashmir, Kashmiryat, Article 370, the Muslim character and the disputed nature of the state,” he said.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP wants it scrapped.
He also suggested that Kashmiri parties in electoral politics can forge a regional alliance to form a government.
Inquilabi’s comments came on a day Governor’s rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, where political parties failed to form a coalition after elections left a hung assembly.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finished with most seats at 28 in the house of 87. The BJP won 25 seats, the National Conference 15 and the Congress got 12 seats.
According to Inquilabi, the BJP “has its own agenda regarding Kashmir. The BJP is not having a dialogue with Pakistan… So this is the situation where Kashmiri leaders have to assert (themselves), whether they are pro-independence or … regional parties.”
He said the Congress and the BJP were on the same page when it came to Kashmir.
Inquilabi admitted that the disbandment of the Muslim United Front (MUF) after the 1987 assembly elections was wrong.
“It was a blunder on the part of MUF leaders. If such a forum comes into being and joins the election fray, the situation will get automatically changed.
“Once a genuinely separatist party joins the election fray, I think the pro-India parties will lose their postal address.”
How does he see the 77 percent voter turnout in the elections?
“People were devastated by floods. It was winter, and people wanted some relief in their devastated lives…
“But even those who voted were not doing so because they had accepted Kashmir’s accession with India.”
Inquilabi warned that after NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the situation will become more volatile in Kashmir.
“Because the mujahideen of Afghanistan, in league with the mujahideen of Pakistan, will feel automatically motivated to join the fray here and help the Kashmiri mujahideen.
“Pakistan and India can avoid that flare-up only with a dialogue, taking Kashmiris into confidence, for a peaceful settlement of this issue.”