Tone down rhetoric on Article 370, says Karan Singh
Two days ago, minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh stirred a controversy by saying the new government had started the process of repealing Article 370 that confers special status to Jammu and Kashmirindia Updated: May 30, 2014 00:10 IST
Congress leader Karan Singh on Thursday expressed distress over the controversy over Article 370 "flowing from an avoidable statement by the MoS in the PMO" and appealed to all to "kindly tone down the rhetoric".
In a statement two days after minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh stirred a controversy by saying that the new government has started the process for repealing article 370 that confers special status to the state, Karan Singh said the issue was "extremely sensitive and must be handled coolly and in a mature fashion".
"The sort of statements issued from both sides will only create further turmoil and tension in Jammu and Kashmir," said Karan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member.
He said his father Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947.
"Whereas other states later signed merger agreements, the relationship of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country was governed by a special set of circumstances, and hence given a special position.
"The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, which I signed into law in 1957, is still in force," he added.
"Certainly Jammu and Kashmir is an 'integral part' of India, but that does not necessarily mean that it has to be treated exactly on par with other states," he said, giving the example of Hong Kong which is an 'integral part' of China but has been given a special dispensation.
"There are in fact numerous examples around the world in which, due to special circumstances, certain areas or regions have been given a special dispensation. Though all talk of secession is totally unacceptable and uncalled for, the steam-roller approach is also not appropriate."
"Let us not forget that 50 percent of the area of my father's 84,000 sq-mile state is in fact not in our possession. It has been under Pakistan control since the UN's brokered ceasefire Jan 1, 1949, and Pakistan has leased a considerable portion of this land to China.
"An interesting point also is that in the three regions of the state that are with us - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh - the bulk of public opinion differs sharply on this issue."
He appealed to all sides to "kindly tone down the rhetoric and not let the minister's statement plunge the new government almost immediately into a complex and difficult situation".
"The whole question of Jammu and Kashmir has to be looked at in an integral fashion, including the international dimension, the constitutional position, the legal aspects as well as the political aspects.
"Such an integral review is overdue, but it has to be done in a cooperative rather than a confrontational manner," he said.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had reacted with a flurry of tweets to the minister's statement and also voiced disapproval in statements to the media.