J&K issue to be considered within Constitution: PM
30 June 2000
Times of India
New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has said the issue of autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir will be considered in accordance with the Indian Constitution. In the first reaction to the autonomy resolution recently passed by the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, Vajpayee said, ''Our views on the status of Kashmir as an integral part of India are the foundation of all other activities in and with regard to the state.'' Talking to reporters on board the special Air-India flight that brought him back to New Delhi from Lisbon on Thursday night, the PM said the move initiated for talks with Hurriyat leaders will continue. He said he was yet to get the details of the debate and the resolution. He pointed out J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah had told him earlier that the assembly would debate the matter. The PM, however, dismissed the suggestion that the adoption of the resolution while he was abroad means a breach of trust by the Kashmir CM and will vitiate the Centre''s relations with the Farooq regime. ''Don''t be under any illusion that Kashmir wants to secede from us,'' the PM said, adding that the Indian democracy is powerful enough to take care of such demands if they come from other states. PMO sources maintain that the autonomy resolution is a manifestation of the competition between Farooq''s National Conference and the Hurriyat Conference for recognition as the true voice of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The National Conference does not want to go out of reckoning and hence the resolution, they say. The PM spoke on a host of issues, including CTBT, India''s claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and economic reforms.