New Delhi, Jan 6 IBNS | 10 months ago

Coming under attack for his statement over a referendum in Kashmir, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan on Monday said his comment was being misinterpreted and that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.


In his statement, Bhushan said, "Headlines Today and Aaj Tak has sensationalised my statement."

AAP member Dilip Pandey read out Bhushan's statement, which said, "It is a prerogative of the state to deploy armed forces for the security of the state."

Bhushan said, "The AAP is of the view that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Needless to say that I share this view."

His statement claimed that in the interview to a news channel, he said 'impunity of AFSPA should be removed in order to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir'.

"Any reference to referendum shouldn't be misconstrued to mean plebiscite on Kashmir's relationship with India," read the statement.

Slamming Bhushan for his comments on referendum in Kashmir, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley tweeted:"The suggestion that the issue of Army Presence in Kashmir be decided by a referendum of the people in the valley must be opposed."

He said these issues cannot be decided based on populism or referendum.

"The issues of national security cannot be decided by populism or referendum. They can only be decided on security considerations," he tweeted.

"Till such time the infrastructure of terror remains the presence of the army in Jammu & Kashmir is essential," he said.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said reduction of the footprint of security forces an phased revocation of AFSPA doesn't need a referendum but a 'courageous statesman'.

"Reduction of the footprint of security forces & phased revocation of AFSPA doesn't need a referendum, just a courageous statesman to decide," Abdullah tweeted.

He said that, "Governments get a mandate to govern & decide, they don't need to conduct a referendum before every tricky decision. Leaders must lead."

Earlier in the day, AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the remarks of his party colleague Prashant Bhushan on a referendum in Kashmir is not his or his party's opinion and ruled out holding any such referendum since it is a matter of internal security.

Kejriwal said "deployment of Army is a matter of internal security" and ruled out having a referendum on it.

He said the feelings of local people are essential since it will be a threat to democracy otherwise but AAP is not favour of any referendum.

Former interlocutor Dilip Padgounkar said that it is the personal opinion of Bhushan and not the verdict of AAP.

He however said that no security could be effective without the cooperation of common people.

"Army has been trying a good job in Kashmir and they have initiated different programmes to reach out to people. However, they must win the hearts of common Kashmiri and take them into confidence," Padgounkar told Srinagar based news agency in an interview adding that they have already pitched for the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers act in Jammu and Kashmir in their
recommendations.

Padgounkar said that there is nothing new in it what Bhushan has stated about Kashmir.

"The important point is that we have to analyze the stand taken by AAP itself on Kashmir. I think security and politics should not be mixed up," he said.

He said that security of the country is an important matter and politicians should not make any comment on this sensitive matter.

"No doubt Army in Kashmir is doing a good job in Kashmir but it is my firm belief that without the cooperation of the people, no security can be effective," Padgounkar said adding that whatever Bhushan has said is debatable.

Responding to a query, Padgounkar said that people of Kashmir have suffered a lot from past two decades and to relieve them from the agony, the teams of interlocutors have already suggested measures in their recommendations.

AAP leader Prashant Bhushan in an interview with Aaj Tak espoused a referendum in Kashmir on the deployment of Army.

In an interview with Aaj Tak's Seedhi Baat, Prashant Bhushan said as quoted in India Today: "People should be asked whether they want that the army to handle the internal security of Kashmir. Any decision which does not have the backing of the people is undemocratic. If people feel that the Army is violating human rights and they say they don't want the Army to be deployed for their security then the Army should be withdrawn from the hinterland."

"The government can decide if the Army needs to be deployed to deal with external threats along the border. The government can also decide if the Army needs to be kept to help protect the minorities in the valley. But there should be a referendum on whether people want AFSPA to continue in the valley or not."

(Posted on 06-01-2014)