The rift between Jammu and Kashmir’s coalition partners, the National Conference (NC) and the Congress, over the issue of autonomy appeared to widen on Tuesday even as an all-party delegation visiting the state shifted its attention from the Valley towards Jammu.
“We want greater autonomy for the state as a solution to the Kashmir issue, which is within the scope of the Indian Constitution,” NC leader Ajay Sadhotra told reporters after meeting the all-party delegation.
He said the party also demanded regional autonomy for equitable development of three regions of the state — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
But the Congress echoed the BJP view, saying it would “only cause more problems”.
“We already have a separate constitution and a separate flag. There is no need for more autonomy,” said state Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma.
The BJP accused CM Omar Abdullah of deliberately allowing violence to continue to reinforce his demand for autonomy, and demanded his removal.
“Omar’s resignation is necessary to break the present impasse,” said state BJP president Shamsher Singh Manhas.
Both the BJP and Congress also said sweeping powers to the armed forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, blamed by detractors as an instigation for the violence, will not be repealed or diluted.
Earlier, the BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) had threatened to boycott the Jammu talks as “nationalist groups”, such as the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, and Kashmir Pandit groups such as Panun Kashmir (PK) had not been invited.
But they agreed to participate in the talks after the government extended invitations to all these groups. However, PK rejected the invitation.
“We were asked to go along with some other delegations and were given time of 10 minutes. How could me make our point in this situation?” said PK Chairman Ajay Chrungoo.
Later, a five-member delegation of political parties visited migrant camps in Jammu to understand the plight of displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Led by Sitaram Yechury (CPM), the team interacted with migrants to learn about their viewpoints and problems in Jammu.