NEW DELHI: Days after Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told the world that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, the chief minister of the disputed Himalayan region claimed on Thursday that his state had acceded to India not merged with it.
India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the remarks by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as anti-national.
India’s ruling Congress party which lends support to Mr Abdullah was silent on the issue.
Jammu and Kashmir “cannot be placed at par with Hyderabad or Junagarh”, Mr Abdullah told the state assembly in Srinagar.
“The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India has occurred under an agreement. We have not broken that agreement nor we have taken it back but you have gradually demolished it. We both (referring to BJP) were required to uphold and respect the agreement. Many say that much water has flown down the Jhelum since then,” Mr Abdullah said.
“We also agree, but it is still a fact that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India is under an agreement and it is not the merger. For this reason special provision has been made in the Constitution of India.”
Earlier, taking a dig at the BJP’s approach towards the present situation, he said: “It is easy to say that Jammu and Kashmir is the integral part of India and it sounds nice to the ears but if there is no doubt in your minds and hearts on this account, why you are time and again shouting this slogan from the top of your voices? Why there is any need of saying this again and again?
Why same slogan is not being raised for Tamil Naidu or any other state? At one hand you are granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir, on the other you voice for removing it from the constitution. You have doubt in your hearts”, he said.
The Indian parliament in 1994 passed a resolution that Pakistan’s control over Azad Kashmir was the only wrong that needed to be undone with regard to Kashmir.
A mass campaign against Indian occuption of Kashmir in recent weeks has seen the death of over a hundred peaceful protesters, shot dead by security forces.
Mr Abdullah warned against the consequences of not addressing the political issue of the state politically and said. “Don’t blame me for future consequences on this count. He said either we have to work sincerely to stop this unrest and bloodshed once and for all or we will be contributing to the unabated disturbances and killings.”
Kashmir’s separatist leaders have said that reports of US back-channel diplomacy to urge India to resolve the issue before President Barrack Obama’s visit to India next year offered rare hope for a resolution to the dispute. India says there is no room for mediation by a third country over Kashmir.
Pakistan had accused Mr Krishna of making a ‘self-serving claim’ at the United Nations General Assembly about Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of the country. Mr Abdullah’s comments were equally questioning of India’s off- again on-again stance on the dispute.
AP adds: The assembly erupted in violence when opposition lawmakers scuffled with security guards to protest a suggestion that only a deal between India and Pakistan could bring peace to the region.
Three lawmakers from BJP were treated for bruises and cuts and one security marshal also suffered minor injuries.
To quell the violence, the Indian government has debated easing some harsh security laws in effect in the troubled region, pulled down some bunkers in Srinagar this week and discussed bringing economic development to the area.
But Mr Abdullah told the assembly Wednesday that these measures would not solve the overall dispute over the region.
“Kashmir is an issue between two neighbors. It is an international issue … It is a political issue and cannot be addressed through development, employment or good governance,’’ he said, adding that Kashmiris also should be involved in the discussions on their future.
When the session started on Thursday, angry BJP lawmakers, and legislators from two other local parties, chanting slogans against Mr Abdullah, rushed to the podium and fought against security marshals who were trying to push them back.
The speaker later ordered them ejected. The BJP declared it would boycott the remainder of the session ending this weekend in protest.