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Vajpayee’s death has created a void in the Valley, say J&K political leaders

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The former PM who passed away Thursday had advocated ‘insaniyat, jamhooriyat aur Kashmiriyat’ to resolve issues in Kashmir.

New Delhi: The demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has created a “big void” in Jammu and Kashmir, leaders across the political spectrum in the state said Thursday. Many call his death a “tremendous loss” for the state.

Vajpayee had advocated “insaniyat, jamhooriyat aur Kashmiriyat” (humanity, democracy and Kashmir’s legacy of Hindu-Muslim amity) as a formula to resolve issues in the Valley.

The former PM, who had been kept on life support at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi for the past nine weeks, passed away Thursday.

Former J&K chief minister and vice-president of the National Conference party, Omar Abdullah, who served as the minister of state for external affairs in the Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2001-02, tweeted, “Vajpayee Sahib is no more & I feel a personal sense of loss at his passing. Thank you sir for the opportunities, for the trust you reposed in me, for the opportunities to travel with you & to learn from you. You will be greatly missed.”

Also read: Vajpayee was popular even among citizens who didn’t vote for him, writes his PMO aide

Vajpayee was successful in bringing together the mainstream political parties and the separatist Hurriyat for a dialogue on the Kashmir issue, something that had earned him admiration from the people of the state.

“It is a tremendous loss for Kashmir and South Asia. Vajpayee was the first prime minister who succeeded in his quest for peace with Pakistan,” People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Naeem Akhtar told ThePrint.

“He was the only leader who Kashmir had high expectations of. He made the impromptu call for peace with Pakistan and walked the talk,” Akhtar added.

While taking oath as chief minister of the PDP-BJP government in the state in 2015, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had called Vajpayee a “statesman” and said that the government would take forward his philosophy.

“Vajpayee held the view that without speaking to the Kashmiri people, you cannot expect peace in South Asia. As a result, his truce for peace lasted for 10 long years,” Akhtar said.

The Vajpayee government had declared a unilateral ceasefire on the international border and along the LoC in the 2003.  The Modi government tried to repeat this formula during the holy month of Ramzan in May but it failed to yield any good results unlike in Vajpayee’s time.

Vajpayee’s powerful speech where he talked about insaaniyat, jamhooriyat aur Kashmiriyat and other initiatives taken by him are still recalled fondly by the people of the state. The impetus for opening the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad (PoK) Road, also came from him.

“He was a prime minister without any bias. It was his outstanding leadership that convinced Hurriyat to come on board for a dialogue, not once but twice,” general secretary of National Conference Ali Mohammad Sagar said.

“His honesty and commitments towards finding a solution to the Kashmir problem made the people believe that he might do something. He was successful in giving confidence to the people of Kashmir,” Sagar added.

Also read:  Vajpayee on Nehru’s death: Bharat Mata has lost her favourite prince

Former CM Mehbooba Mufti had tweeted Wednesday, “Can never forget the love and affection he showered upon me every time we met”.

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