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Kashmiri people should stand with Govt, not separatists: Jaitley

New Delhi, Oct 27: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the people of Kashmir ought to stand with the government and not with the separatists in the fight against militancy.

“I think it is absolutely essential for all of us …that in this battle, we need the Kashmiri people on our side. It’s a battle for sovereignty, it’s a battle against separatists and militants and the key is also held by the people,” he said.

“And therefore our approach has to be guided by the fact that those people are on our side, and not with the separatists,” he said while delivering the first Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture here.

“At a time when the country is dealing with troubles being fomented from across the border, some local groups have joined them and the worst sufferers are Kashmiri people themselves,” he said.

“How do we resolve the situation? Governments have said that we are ready for the most logical option. We are willing to talk to people, we are willing to even interact and involve regional mainstream parties into it,” he added.

Jaitley also said that mainstream regional parties, which speak one language in Srinagar and another in Delhi, must have the courage to face the situation.

They need to create an alternative set of discourse in the Valley for separatists, he said adding “Unfortunately they duck that responsibility. And therefore this is a battle which India has to win and I have no doubt in mind, we will succeed in it at the end of the day because the politics of India has to send a clear message that separatism will never be accepted by India and its mainstream”.

He said that every policy and position that the government takes have to be guided by one of the yardsticks that “the people of Kashmir have to be gradually brought on this side and that will be the real test of when we succeed”.

In his speech, Jaitley also made an oblique reference to developments in the CBI and wondered whether non-accountability of institutions could be a ground for investigative adventurism and masking corruption.

The country is higher than any institution or the government, he said.

“The nation that is India, is higher than any institution or government. Can non-accountability be a mask for corruption? Can it be a ground for investigative adventurism, or can it, as in case of other non-accountable institution, be a ground for inaction? What does the nation do? It is a major challenge,” Jaitley said.

Observing that he was not providing any answer to the vexed questions, the minister said, “One answer is clear to me. The country is taller than any institution. And therefore, when we deal with non-accountable institutions, which is a challenge of the day. We will have to keep these challenges in mind. And those who think right will perhaps reflect on this.”

Jaitley also regretted that the attempts were being made to weaken the authority of the elected and creating a power shift in favour of non-accountable institutions.

“Ultimately at the centre or the states, it is the elected who are accountable. The non-accountable are not accountable,” the minister stressed.