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''We Are Against Polls''

Babbar Badr, former chief of the Muslim Janbaz Force, now heads the forum of militants which has initiated the talks in New Delhi. He is happy that the first step has been taken to restore normalcy in the Valley, but does not wish to be seen as a sto

INTERVIEWS Babbar Badr | 03 April 1996
''We Are Against Polls''

People here accuse you of selling out to New Delhi. They call the Delhi meeting a pre-election stunt by the Congress Government to prove it's solving the Kashmir problem. Do you feel you were used?

Let me make it very clear that we are not talking to the Congress Government. We are not the puppets of any party in Delhi. We are talking to the Indian establishment. We did not talk to S.B. Chavan, we talked to the Home Minister and the Home Ministry. Chavan may go but the Home Ministry will remain. So the talks we had will be continued with the new government, whichever it is. As far as being called an agent of India, anybody who goes to Delhi is called an agent. Earlier, they called me an ISI agent. The BJP still calls me that, at least that's what L.K. Advani was quoted as saying.

Do you feel the time is ripe for elections in Kashmir?

We are not for elections. I tell you it will be no more than a drama. There will be no participation, and if there's no participation what's the point in holding polls? We think the polls are a non-issue, nothing much will come out of it.

The Hurriyat has come out very strongly against you.

They have been insisting on tripartite talks in which India and Pakistan should sit at the same table and sort out the problems of the people of Kashmir. Well, that has not happened and it is unlikely that it will happen in the near future. So we said 'let us initiate the process and talk to India'. We are willing to talk to everybody, including Pakistan.

Will you agree to include the Hurriyat in your Forum?

Everyone is welcome. In fact, we have been holding discussions with certain Hurriyat members and they seem quite interested in what we are doing.

The counter-insurgency groups have criticised your suggestion in Delhi that they be disarmed.

The renegades are unleashing terror, and they are going about their business with the full support of the military and paramilitary forces. They are looting and raping. They have to be disarmed. Or the Indian Army should give them a beret and a uniform and absorb them into their fold. This will make the renegades accountable. Let the Army raise another battalion comprising them. It won't make a difference. When there are already six-and-a-half lakh troops here, what difference would another few thousand make? Once you give them uniforms, the renegades can't operate surreptitiously.

There is talk that, in due course, you will soften your stand and toe the Indian line.

We won't move an inch. And that is that. If India does not honour the rights of the people of Kashmir, it will be unfortunate. If India wants war, we are ready for it. If it wants to talk peace, we are ready for that too.

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