Art 370 cannot be touched: Mehbooba Mufti

  • Press Trust of India, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2015 19:28 IST

Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, "cannot be touched" and people do not get swayed by slogans anymore, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti asserted on Thursday, days after her party's coalition partner BJP agreed to maintain status quo on the controversial issue.

At the same time, she contended that it was not a climbdown for the BJP, which has been in favour of abrogating Article 370 that grants special status to the state.

Mehbooba spoke on various issues, including the recent row triggered by her father and chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed who credited Pakistan, Hurriyat and militant groups for the conduct of peaceful elections in the state.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh had distanced the Centre as well as their party from Sayeed's remarks.

Asked about BJP not pressing its traditional stand, Mehbooba said, "No no, I won't say it's a climbdown for any party. After all everybody knows that you cannot touch the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and so times are changing, people are changing and nobody is going to be taken by these slogans anymore...."

"...two flags and a separate Constitution is a reality...I don't want to get into this. We have to give tribute to the people of the state by phasing out AFSPA and maintaining status quo on Article 370," she told Karan Thapar on Headlines Today.

Asked whether PDP has diluted its long held stand on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA), she said there was no "climb up or climb down" and the state government will examine whether it was necessary to keep Disturbed Areas Act in force in any particular area or not.

"Once Disturbed Areas Act is lifted, the Centre will examine lifting of AFSPA," she said and added that a final call on this issue has to be taken by the Centre.

The PDP president, however, said there are some apprehensions in the state as well as in the rest of the country.

"So certain steps have to be taken to clear these apprehensions so that these things fall in line," she said.

Mehbooba also made it clear that she was not worried about how long the alliance between her party and BJP would continue and rather the focus will be on ensuring that political and developmental agenda arrived by the two parties is implemented as soon as possible.

"Well to be honest, my focus is not whether we will be able to go on for six years. My focus is how much we can perform in whatever time we have be it six years, ten years, 12 years or two years, three years.....our focus will be to work on the agenda that we had established between the two parties whether it is political agenda or developmental agenda.

"If I have to worry I will be worried about how soon we can implement this and get the fruits of this alliance for people of Jammu and Kashmir...if it survives very good but whatever time it does, it should be for the good of the people," she said.

Asked whether she or her father were upset when the Centre distanced from the statement made by Sayeed after the swearing-in on Sunday, Mehbooba said, "We have just started working and we want the agenda to last. The agenda which has kept reconciliation on priority, dialogue on priority and talks with separatists on priority."

On a question about the conviction behind the alliance as stated by her father, she said, "He (Sayeed) does not believe in posturing. He is an Indian by conviction and has a vision where Jammu and Kashmir acts as bridge of peace between India and Pakistan."

About her views on Modi, especially a chemistry between him and her father, she said, "I see Modiji as a very spontaneous person and one who does not mince any words like my father.

"We have made a very good start and Inshallah we know there has to be chemistry between people of J-K and the rest of the country. It's not a chemistry between Mufti Saheb and Modiji. The chemistry has to go beyond these two guys."

She said the alliance is based on trust. "Of course, we have taken such a huge step. There has to be trust between the two persons, between the two parties.

"That is the only way you can restore the trust between people of J-K and the rest of the country. We are also trying to restore trust between our country and neighbour so that Jammu and Kashmir becomes a bridge of reconciliationbetween the two countries."

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