Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Sinha for conversion of LoC into trade link

Greater Kashmir - 2 November 2006

Governor Lt General (Retd) S K Sinha said on Thursday that converting Line of Control into Line of Peace will help in giving push to trade in the region.

“Converting Line of Control into line of peace and prosperity will help in giving a start to trade which will bring about prosperity in the region,” he said this while interacting with a delegation of European Parliamentarians who called on him here.

He said “terrorism has taken its toll and spread its tentacles to other parts of the country. Those not so happy with India fast steering to progress will have to change their mind-set,” he maintained.

Describing peace as imperative for prosperity and development, General Sinha said that the neighbouring country after failing in its designs on Kashmir resorted to proxy war that vitiated the situation in Kashmir. He said things are improving now and the peace process is gaining momentum with Pakistan.

He regretted that terrorists’ atrocities on civilians get unnoticed as a handful of separatists remain always on toes to malign the forces for human rights violations.

Governor said that the Army’s human rights record is far excellent than other armies tackling similar situations. He cited the example of Iraq and Wazirstan where heavy arms like helicopter gunships were used to meet the situation.

He, however, added that complaints of violations against the Army and other forces are immediately looked into and action taken against guilty. Taking cognizance of various complaints, 17 personnel were sentenced, some of them getting imprisonment from two to 14 years.

The Governor was referring to the observations of Dr Charles Tannock, Co-President, Friends of India, who said that during their meeting with the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi it was stated that the Army is seriously taking every complaint on human rights front.

On the condition of the people in Kashmir, the Governor said that they are forward-looking and far better off than Muslims in India. He compared below poverty level in Jammu and Kashmir with rest of India and said that against the national average of 26 per cent, only 3.7 per cent people in the State live under BPL. He said that unemployment is a national phenomenon and its impact is felt in Jammu and Kashmir too. He said the Government is sincerely endeavouring to address to this problem, which has accumulated due to absence of appropriate corporate sector or growth of industries, as investors could not invest in the State due to various factors.

He elaborated that during the horrendous days of partition, a ray of light emanated from Kashmir, as the valley demonstrated high degree of harmony and communal amity. He said that he sees hope in revival of Kashmiriyat which got eroded due to rise of fundamentalism since 80s.

In this context, he referred to the holding of two international seminars on ‘Central Asia- Prospect and Retrospect’ and recently held ‘Approaches to Kashmir Studies’ in Srinagar, which were, among others, attended by the delegates from Kryigystan, Kazakistan, Aazerbyjan and Pakistan. Such events are useful fora to understand each other’s culture, religion, languages and way of life. He said Central Asian countries too were forward looking and secular in their character.

The other delegates present were Jo Leinen, Germany, Marcello Vernolla, Itlay, Justas Vincas Palecais, and Ms Inese Vaildere, Latvia.