New Delhi: Kashmiris have been "cheated again and again" by the leadership in Delhi and only restoration of autonomy can win back the trust, says an MP of Jammu and Kashmir`s ruling National Conference.
Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri says normalcy would return to the strife-torn Kashmir Valley only when people`s political aspirations are addressed.
"Even when a proposal passed by the Legislative Assembly for autonomy (in 2000) was given to the Centre, they ignored it. If you have to take them (people) on board, restoration of autonomy is the only option to win back the trust of Kashmiris," Ratnapuri said in an interview.
"As long as autonomy is denied, the demands will only increase. Autonomy will build trust," he said.
His comments came in the backdrop of the latest unrest in the Kashmir Valley that has been on the boil for two months now with over 50 people killed, mostly in firing by the security forces.
"Kashmir can be calm for a while, but it will never be normal until you address their political aspirations... they feel disempowered," said Ratanpuri.
Remembering the arrest of then Jammu and Kashmir prime minister and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah in 1953, Ratanpuri said the history of mistrust began there.
"The mistrust started from there. All accords with Kashmir have been broken... We have been cheated again and again," he said, referring to the erosion of Kashmir`s special status under the Indian Constitution.
As per the status guaranteed by the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir had its own election commission, Supreme Court ruling was not applicable there, Comptroller and Auditor General of India had no jurisdiction and President`s rule couldn`t be extended in the state.
Only three departments -- defence, currency and foreign affairs -- were controlled by the Central government.
The state used to have its own president and prime minister - called sadar-e-riyasat and wazir-e-azam respectively - which were changed to Governor and Chief Minister in 1965.
A former broadcaster with Radio Kashmir and a new face in Kashmir politics, Ratanpuri said successive Central governments have not kept their commitments.
"No commitments have been fulfilled. During the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) regime, when Kashmiris said they will not talk within the framework of the Indian Constitution, then prime minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee said let it be under the realm of humanity, giving the impression that he was ready to talk out of the constitutional realm, but that never happened," he said.
He rejected the idea of restarting Home Minister P Chidambaram`s "quiet dialogue" with separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir and asked why not an "open dialogue".
Ratanpuri said the Central government should "address the concerns of the new generation".
"They are the children of conflict and they will not accept anything but equal treatment. `Azadi` (freedom) is their state of mind," the MP added.