Bhushan on Kashmir has AAP scrambling for cover and a clarification

Anna had described this as “not right”. Bhushan now says he no longer holds that view.

New Delhi | Updated: January 7, 2014 4:37 am
On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Deployment of Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this." On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Deployment of Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this.”

A day after senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan said that the people of Kashmir should have a say in the deployment of troops in the Valley, his party distanced itself from the remark, saying it did not believe in holding a referendum on security issues, and that the activist-lawyer had been quoted out of context.
In 2011, during Anna Hazare’s Lokpal agitation, Bhushan had said that there should be a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, and that the people should be allowed to decide whether they wanted to remain in India.
Anna had described this as “not right”. Bhushan now says he no longer holds that view.
On Sunday, Bhushan told Aaj Tak and Headlines Today in an interview: “People should be asked whether they want the Army to handle the internal security of Kashmir… If people… say they don’t want the Army to be deployed for their security then the Army should be withdrawn from the hinterland.”
On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Deployment of Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this. We believe the sentiments of locals should be respected. Otherwise democracy will be under threat. AAP does not support referendum on such issues.”
Later, party spokesman Dilip Pandey said, “There cannot be a debate on whether Kashmir is an integral part of India. It is good to talk to the people, but it cannot extend to matters of internal and external security. Troop deployment is the state’s call and when security is at stake maximum forces should be deployed.”
In his interview, Bhushan had also called for the lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in J&K, saying it gave the Army immunity in cases of human rights violations, and alienated the people.
Bhushan’s phone remained unreachable on Monday. But he issued a “clarification” saying his interview had been “sensationalised”, and he had been quoted out of context. He said he shared the AAP’s view that J&K is an integral part of India.
He, however, added, “I further said (during the interview) that my personal view is that even the deployment of the armed forces in huge numbers within Kashmir, not for external defence or to prevent infiltration but for the security of the people of Kashmir, should not be done without the consent of the people of Kashmir. Of course the union government is fully entitled to deploy the Army for external defence in Kashmir as well as for protecting the minorities there if there is a threat to minority rights. This, I said, is consistent with my view of participatory governance and swaraj.”
In September 2011, Bhushan had said: “It is my personal opinion that no country or part of its territory can be governed without the wishes of the people with the help of Army… Army be withdrawn, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act be also withdrawn and then try to persuade the people of Kashmir to stay with India. And yet, if the people want, then there could be a plebiscite, and if the people of the Valley want separation, they be allowed to separate.”
Some days later, thugs claiming allegiance to a fringe Hindu group assaulted him in his chamber, apparently in retaliation for the statement.

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