STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday strongly batted for complete “emotional and psychological” integration of the state with rest of the country, asserting that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is not a hurdle but a bridge in this direction.
“When the people of BJP talk of Article 370, they talk of technical integration. We have to make them understand that we also want that Jammu and Kashmir should fully integrate with India emotionally, technically. We are already a part of this country. Who can deny that”, she said while replying to a debate in the Legislative Assembly on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address.
“But have we emotionally joined that integration completely which we should have done emotionally and psychologically? No. But that is what is needed, in which (Article) 370 is not an impediment but 370 is a bridge which connects us”, said Mehbooba, who heads PDP.
Hailing the Indian democracy, she said her late father Mufti Sayeed had always believed in it and that was the reason that he had held the flag of mainstream political party (Congress) at an early age long back in 1960s.
“Today we have an opportunity to think about where to move ahead. I am hopeful, as we all say one thing that an issue, a pain is there, a difficulty is there, solution to which has to be found, for which dialogue should be held.
But before we speak about dialogue outside, we should ourselves disperse the fear we have. They (BJP) have fear of ‘self-rule’ and autonomy and we have fear that they (BJP) might abrogate Article 370 (which grants special status to the state),” said Mehbooba, who heads a coalition government of PDP and BJP.
She said both the parties were fearful of each other but the aim was the same, to see Jammu and Kashmir united, to see it prosper.
“We have faith in democracy of this country. We take oath of the Constitution of India and our own Constitution (of J&K), still there are so many doubts as they (BJP) feel that … J&K might slip out of their hands”, she said.
“The Constitution of India and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir have the capacity to accommodate the desires and wishes of the people on both sides of the divided Kashmir,” she said, adding, “We can fulfill their (Centre’s) aspirations as well, we can fulfill their dreams, but we have to first take out this fear from our hearts.”
Referring to the trouble witnessed in the valley over the last 5-6 months, she said there was a need for introspection.
“We all need to look within and see what we can do so that such a situation does not emerge in future, what role we can play to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, as (her father) Mufti Sahib had said that if somebody has a major role to play in resolving the issue, it is this Assembly”, she said.
Mehbooba said when her father, who held the flag of mainstream politics, spoke about ‘self-rule’, he was labelled as “anti-national”.
Commenting on the nature of the debate that took place on the Motion, the Chief Minister said she was happy to see that everybody talked about the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) between PDP and BJP.
There are good things in Agenda of Alliance, so people discuss about it. We didn t bring those things from heaven.
These are from the Working Groups (set up by the former central government) on which we all had reached a consensus and some of the things which PDP believes in, which we call ‘self-rule’ including opening of roads. Everybody agreed those working groups,” she said.
Turning to the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), she said the Working Group said that as the situation improves, decision should be taken on it.
Whenever situation improves, we have to make a start from somewhere,” she said.
The Rangarajan Committee, she said, had recommended transfer of power projects to the state to make it financially viable. “We also said in ‘self-rule’ and everybody wants that too,” she said.
Mehbooba, who is heading a coalition government of PDP and BJP, admitted that during the last Assembly elections, she had spoken about keeping the saffron party away, fearing that Article 370 was in “danger”.
I accept that I said so because, as I said, we all had apprehensions against each other and rightly or wrongly, BJP feels that abrogation of (Article) 370 can solve Kashmir issue. We have a different stand on this and when the mandate here was like BJP got majority in Jammu and we in Kashmir, to respect that mandate we had to take a decision (of alliance), she said.
She said her father wanted to respect the mandate and keep the state united which was his conviction to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of this mess.
We waited for 10 years during UPA government as (then Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh wanted to visit his ancestral house in Pakistan as he was born there and wanted to see his house but because of certain compulsions he could not go, she said.
“After 2014 Parliamentary elections, a big leader (came with a major mandate, we cannot close our eye,” Mehbooba said, in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“He had a vision that if we want to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of the mess, we need to shake hands with the leader who is in majority in Jammu and who can take a bold decision for which the alliance was forged, she said.
She went on to add, “We should not forget that it was Narendra Modi who, in the month of December (2015) went to Lahore like somebody goes from one house to another and attended the wedding of the grand-daughter of Pakistani Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif). We also feel that we are connected with history and geography and neither one can be changed. Howsoever we fight, at the end we have to learn to live with each other. It is up to us whether we should kill each other or live at peace.”
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