The working group dealing with the Centre- State relations on Saturday came out with a firm conclusion that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India cannot be challenged, though there were few voices opposing the special status of the state within the Indian union.
Jammu and Kashmir’s special status within the Indian Union came under a sharp attack from the leaders of BJP, Panun Kashmir, and Jammu State Morcha . According to them, it was at the core of the current problem in the State.
“But there was a clear unanimity that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India is final and it cannot be challenged, the state’s unity is non-negotiable and the regional and sub-regional aspirations of the people of all the regions and sub regions of the state have to be met in terms of development,” former Deputy Chief Minister Muzzaffar Hussain told newsmen.
Union Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz and Baig advocated strengthening of the special status of the state. They argued that the assertion of the distinct identity would help erase many doubts and bridge the gaps caused by the trust deficit existing between Srinagar and Delhi.
Baig outlined the broader contours of his party’s self rule in terms of constitutional status and argued for economic integration of the two sides of the Line of Control and election of Governor.
Panun Kashmir’s Ajay Charngoo and State BJP president Ashok Khajuria pointed out that the “ self rule “ appeared to be varying verbal version of PDP leaders. “ There should be something in written form that we can respond to,” the Panun Kashmir leader asked.
Khajuria took on both, Soz and Baig, and asked them to be clear. “Your thinking is muddled and the Article 370 is the basic cause of all the problems of the state. It is a provision that is keeping the state away from benefits that rest of the country enjoys.”
Panun Kashmir had already stated in its written document that special status and democracy cannot go together. There cannot be two different states and systems in one country and ridiculed efforts talking of greater autonomy and self rule.
This was the second meeting of the working group, which is one of the five working groups constituted on Kashmir by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
National Conference did not take part in the deliberations, and PDP and BJP leaders for the group sent their substitutes. Baig substituted for his Party president Mehbooba Mufti and BJP’a Arun Jaitly was represented by Ashok Khajuria.
Most of the participants were unhappy with the “ hurry up” notice by the chairman of the group , retired Justice Sageer Ahmad
“ It appeared that he was in a hurry to leave, there was no seriousness on his part,” Khajuria said.
Much of the sheen of the group was lost because of the high-profile politicians staying away from the meeting.