New Delhi: The Congress Party on Thursday continued to speak in multiple voices on the abrogation of Article 370, with veteran Kashmiri leader Karan Singh, the son of late Maharaja Hari Singh (who had signed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947) now saying he did not agree with a blanket condemnation of the government’s move. Former home minister P. Chidambaram and Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, however, have attacked the government’s move.
While Dr Singh did not comment directly on Article 370, in a statement he said the “positive points” included the Union territory status for Ladakh, the scrapping of Article 35A, the future delimitation of J&K as a result of the state’s bifurcation into UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
He also sought the release of leaders of “legitimate” political parties in J&K and sought the initiation of a broad-based political dialogue with them.
The veteran leader’s statement comes two days after the Congress Working Committee deplored the way in which the government stripped J&K of its special status by ending provisions of Article 370, and bifurcated the state.
“I personally do not agree with a blanket condemnation of these developments. There are several positive points,” the statement said. “Ladakh’s emergence as an UT is to be welcomed. The gender discrimination in Article 35A needed to be addressed... as also the long-awaited enfranchisement of West Pakistan refugees and reservation for Scheduled Tribes will be welcomed,” he added. “There will be a fresh delimitation which, for the first time will ensure and fair division of political power between the Jammu and Kashmir regions,” he said.
Mr Chidambaram questioned the government over its actions on J&K, saying “muscular nationalism” has never resolved any conflict in the world. Mr Chowdhury said Kashmir had become a “concentration camp”, with additional troop deployment and snapped telecom links since the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Chidambaram cited former IAS officer Shah Faesal’s comments to hit out at the government. “Shah Faesal came first in the Civil Services Examination and joined the IAS. He called the government’s actions on J&K as ‘the biggest betrayal’,” he tweeted.