Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday warned that any move to abrogate Article 370,which defines relationship between the state and the Centre,will reopen the issue of the state’s accession to India.
Omar also minced no words in saying that Article 370 of the Constitution was acting as a “bridge” between Jammu and Kashmir and rest of the country and attempts to weaken it would only weaken this relationship.
Omar’s forthright comments came in the backdrop of a debate set off by BJP Prime Minister Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s recent statement in Jammu that a debate should be held whether Article 370 that granted special status to J and K had benefited the state or not.
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Replying to a question by BJP leader Vijay Jolly at “Agenda Aaj Tak” of India Today group conclave,Omar regretted that Article 370 was being presented as if it was distancing the state from the rest of the country.
“I can’t understand why are you people projecting the Article 370,which is the foundation stone of relations between Jammu and Kashmir with rest of India,as a provision which is creating a distance between Kashmir and Delhi.
“Ok now when you want to talk about the abrogation of Article 370,please explain which is the way you are going to adopt for its abrogation.
“The only way to abrogate it is by recalling the Constituent Jammu and Kashmir Assembly where the question of state’s accession with India can again be reopened,” he said and added that more you try to harm the “bridge” the more you are weakening the relationship between the state and rest of country.
Referring to the recent political row over Article 370 and call by Modi for a debate,Omar asked where had he in his tweets written that there should not be any debate on Article 370. “It is BJP which changed its position. “First Modi said there should be debate on 370 and later their spokesperons started backtracking and said the Article 370 should be removed and there is no scope to debate.
“There are lot of misconceptions about Article 370 in our country. It is said that because of this Article people from other parts of the country cannot purchase land in the state.
That it is a ploy by Kashmiris to keep rest of Indians away from the state. It is absolutely wrong. Article 370 is part of the Indian Constitution which connects Kashmir with the rest of the country,” Omar said.
He said that internal laws of the state are in no way related to Article 370. “Narendra Modi said that it is because of Article 370 that Omar Abdullah married an outsider and can have properties in the state but his sister cannot have properties in the state. So I said it is wrong.
“Either you are intentionally lying or your advisors are giving you wrong information. I did not get any response on that,” he said.
Talking about relations between India and Pakistan,Omar referred to statement made by former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar who said war hysteria was built after recent incidents along the Line of Control(LoC).
“We don’t raise pitch without any reasons. Our soldiers were beheaded and we protested. Now,ever since the borders have been peaceful,we too are,” he said.
He also stated about the escalation of tensions along the border took place at a time whe Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in the US for a meeting with American President Barack Obama.
The highest point of tension between the two countries came when the two leaders were meeting there. “Ever since the meeting ended,things are silent once again,” he said and added that this was a desperate bid by Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
Ask about Sharif’s statement that Jammu and Kashmir can be a flash point for fourth war with India,Omar said “the statement was given at the assembly of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which was meant for local consumption.”
Pakistan has not changed its perception towards Kashmir,he said,adding that things have not reached at a level between the two representatives that an elected Chief Minister of the state can share dais with former foreign minister of Pakistan.