Farooq not for confrontation
2 July 2000
COIMBATORE: ''Kashmir''s accession to India is final and irrevocable,'' the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, said here today. Answering questions on the demand for autonomy, he said, ''we never said we want to weaken the Central Government or that we want to secede from India.'' ''We want true federalism within the framework of the Constitution and whatever we want is within the framework of the Constitution.'' He said there was ''no true federalism'' in India. States must have more powers as weak States could not help make a strong Central Government, he said and pointed out that federalism was working very well in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States. The State''s autonomy had been taken away 50 years ago. ''We want it restored. We have put up a document on the autonomy before the Centre and the time has come to discuss the issue.'' Pointing out that he was not for any confrontation with the Centre, he spoke in favour of a cordial discussion. ''Either we convince you or you convince us,'' he said and pleaded for a national debate. Asked whether he would prefer a referendum on the issue, he said it was not required at the moment adding ''we have placed the demand before the Centre. Let it discuss with other parties and evolve a consensus.'' After all it was for this demand that the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed the Sarkaria Commission and whose report was gathering dust, he said. To a question whether his views would trigger similar demands from other States, he said all the States were part of India and none wanted to get out of it. When pointed out that the BJP was stoutly opposed to his demand, he said, ''they were never in favour of it. They wanted abrogation of Article 370 itself.'' On the resolution passed by the Ladakh Council for secession from the State, he said the council comprised just two districts of which one supported autonomy.