Defense Minister: Kashmir Insurgency Stems from Political Corruption

Published November 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Muslim insurgency in Kashmir stems from rampant unemployment and political corruption in the troubled state, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes declared Sunday. 

Fernandes was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying Kashmiri politicians were lining their pockets without paying any heed to development or social welfare. 

Recalling his recent trip to Kashmir, he said he was repeatedly asked what happened to the huge amounts of money New Delhi had provided to the state as aid. 

"I said they have gone into the palatial bungalows they see around them, the farm houses with swimming pools in Delhi, the skyscrapers in Bombay and Swiss bank accounts." 

More than 34,000 people in Kashmir have died in militancy-related violence since 1989. 

Fernandes said corruption had also fuelled insurgency in India's seven northeastern states, where some 50,000 people are thought to have died during the past five decades in rebel violence. 

He said more about 2,500 separatist rebels had surrendered over the past two years in the northeastern state of Assam "and their only demand was employment. 

"I will never blame the youth (for taking to arms). It is the people who created the circumstances who are guilty," the defense minister said -- NEW DELHI (AFP)  



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