NATIONAL

Polls have proved two-nation theory wrong: Minister

TIRUPATI Oct. 5. The Union Minister of State for Home, Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, today said that the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, which witnessed an average voter turnout of about 43 per cent, would demonstrate to the world that the Kashmiris, a majority of whom are Muslims, wanted to co-exist with the Hindus.

``The people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have a different culture and a distinctly different ethos marked by spirit of co-existence and mutual tolerance, were not ready to accept terrorism being thrust on their State from across the border by Pakistan, misrepresenting Islam.''

In an exclusive interview to this correspondent on Saturday, he said the polls, among other things, had demonstrated beyond doubt that the two-nation theory was false. It proved wrong the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf's claim that the Godhra carnage was making the two-nation theory come true. It had become evident that Kashmir was very much an integral part of India and that there was no need for third party intervention. All the problems could be resolved if only Pakistan came forward for negotiations. The polls had `put to rest' all talk about a plebiscite.

He charged that Pakistan had violated and undermined the Tashkent declaration and the Simla pact and had also failed to respond positively to friendly gestures by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The NDA Government was adopting a three-pronged strategy towards the Kashmir issue and Pak.-sponsored terrorism. It was pursuing a pro-active approach to crush terrorism and was safeguarding communal harmony and demonstrating to its detractors that Hindus and Muslims could indeed live together. The Government had announced a Rs. 6,000-cr special package for the economic and social development of the State being monitored directly by the PMO and the Home Ministry, he said.

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