Pune: National Conference President and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah, has said that Kashmir has been and will always remain a part of India.
Addressing the 22nd Pune Festival, Abdullah said: ""Many innocent children died (during the recent unrest in Kashmir). Many of our security persons got hurt.... But that is the price India has to pay if it has to remain united. Those forces that work to divide us, those forces that talk of independent Kashmir and those forces that talk of joining Pakistan, we have to defeat them at all cost."
He also called for the revoking of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) where it had become redundant.
Abdullah said its withdrawal was the only way to restore peace and normalcy in the state.
"The AFSPA should be removed where there is no need for it. In the border areas, you have to keep it because we have danger from the neighbours, but where it is not needed, not necessary, gradually it should be lifted from there," he added.
He also condemned the wave of unabated stone-pelting protests in the Kashmir Valley.
"There are crazy people who think that they would separate Kashmir from India by pelting stones. They have brought bombs and guns in the past, but India never cowed down. I promise you that even this time India will not be defeated and they will not succeed. They are just digging their own graves by propelling violence," he added.
The recent eruption of violence has left the government searching for a new strategy for dealing with the protests.
At least 93 people have died in the last three months. The Kashmir Valley has also been subjected to a series of shutdowns and frequent curfews during this period.