Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister and patron of the regional National Conference (NC) said on Tuesday that if India does not initiate talks with Pakistan, Kashmir will become ‘Gaza’.

Talking to reporters, the octogenarian leader said, “Vajpayee ji had said that we can change friends, but we cannot change neighbours. Prime Minister Modi also said that war is not an option. Dialogue is the only way out for progress. If India does not initiate talks with Pakistan, Kashmir will become another Gaza.”

Dr. Abdullah also said that the Home Minister had said in Chennai four years ago that there is terrorism because of Article 370.

“Now he has denied that statement after four years, in Parliament. See how much he lies,” he said.

He also spoke of the three civilians allegedly killed by the Army following the December 21 encounter in Poonch in which four soldiers were killed.

“Our soldiers were killed and after that the Army went after innocent civilians. They were tortured and chilli powder was sprinkled on their wounds. They could not bear the torture.

“Eight locals were picked up. Three died and five are in the hospital, I am told.

“The brother of one of the three slain civilians is in the BSF. Today he is saying that after serving the country for 24 years, this is the reward?” Dr. Abdullah added.

Asked about the transfer of a Brigadier following the civilian killings in Poonch, the NC patron said, “What will happen by shifting them. I am told that the Army chief has also shifted the GoC-n-C of Northern Command. He has been sent to some academy in Dehra Dun.

“Compensation to victims will not help. It has to be enquired why these civilians were killed if we claim normalcy here.

“This is not Gandhi’s India. Things have deteriorated to an extent where Hindus and Muslims think of each other as enemies”, he alleged.