Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday criticised the strike by Air India pilots, calling it "a cruel joke on tax payers".
“Rs30,000 crore of tax payers’ money is being used to save Air India. Taxpayers should have no objection to this provided they are convinced that Air India (pilots) are also doing enough to save the airlines," he told reporters at a public meeting in Badgam.
“When pilots go on a strike against allowing pilots of the former Indian Airlines to fly new planes, it becomes a joke and that too a cruel one. Protest should have been on some concrete issue," he said.
Asked about reports of a division in the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Abdullah said: “It is not for me to worry about the internal dynamics of the Hurriyat. If they are truly concerned about achieving anything for the people, then any division is harmful for the Hurriyat”.
On the possibility of the separatists participating in elections, he said: “We were ready for them even in 1996 when the then chief minister (Dr Farooq Abdullah) had offered to step down to facilitate their participation. Yes, if they want to participate in the future, we will fight them in the elections and the people will decide”.
On the peace prospects of Kashmir in the next six months, he said: “I have no magic wand to predict how the next six months will pass. I can only assure from our side that we will not take any step consciously or unconsciously that would deteriorate the situation. But we must not forget that it takes two to clap."