The emerging divided opinion on the center-state relations in respect to Jammu and Kashmir is likely to make the going tough for the panel working on the subject which began its fourth meeting in New Delhi on Sunday.
Justice Sagir Ahmed Committee was one of the five groups appointed by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into different aspects of J&K-related problems.
The BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley reiterated his party’s well-known stand on the abrogation of Article 370. Claiming that this Constitutional provison has “weakened India’s sovereignty” and has not solved J&K’s problems, he demanded it to be repealed.
Peoples Democratic Party, an important constituent of the Congress-led ruling alliance in the state, adopted a diametrical opposite stand on the issue. Appearing before the committee, its chief Mehbooba Mufti suggested a complete review of the entire gamut of Constitutional provisions related to J&K. Contrary to Jaitley’s opposition to the Article 370, Mehbooba advocated strengthening the state as a “ sub-national entity”.
“J&K has a separate Constitution, a separate flag and dual citizenship is a testimony to its unique position within the Indian Union. Any review of this relationship must proceed from the fact that India as a nation and J&K as a sub-national entity already operate in the realm of shared sovereignty,” she averred.
Vehemently opposing Article 370, Jaitely said its journey has evolved from a demand for separate status to separatism. He went on to add that Article 370 has perpetuated a psyche that J&K by dint of its special relationship was not fully part of India. “ It sent a signal both to terrorists and Pakistan that its full integration could be prevented,” he observed.
He felt that the Article has nothing to do with resolution of problems facing the state. The problems of security, economic development, correction of regional imbalances, granting citizenship rights to West Pakistan refugees, and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley have no link to the special provision, Jaitely said.
Countering the National Conference demand for autonomy to the state, Mehbooba said it is a part of the PDP’s self-rule proposal. “Once the state is empowered politically, economically and socially, the empowerment could then be shared by the regions and sub-regions, she said adding: “The state should be granted powers to have an elected governor.”
Leader of opposition in the State Assembly A R Rather (National Conference) described the Kashmir as a political problem to be tackled politically.
He said the state Autonomy Committee report takes due care of all the concerned issues and could prove a panacea for the early resolution of this most vexed issue.