J&K Autonomy: Centre 'manufacturing' Consent

24 December 2009
The Economic Times

New Delhi: The report of the Prime Minister’s Working Group on the Centre’s relations with Jammu and Kashmir which recommended consideration of the autonomy proposal, got a credibility blow when its members said the report was “manufactured outside the group”. “The panel had its last meeting on September 2 and 3, 2007. The members had given their suggestions to the chairman of the group. The meeting was inconclusive and it was decided to meet again to assess various proposals from political parties. But no meeting took place after that. Now we learn that a report has been manufactured on the subject. We will take it up with the prime minister,” CPM leader and member of the Working Group Yousuf Tarigami told ET. BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who was part of the Working Group, was also planning to take up the matter with the prime minister. “The recommendations made in the report were never discussed by the group,” BJP president Nitin Gadkari said while addressing a press conference here. Sources said the last meeting, held two years ago, had merely decided to finalise a report at a later date after going through the proposals from various organisations and political parties. “No meeting was held after that and no draft was circulated among members. The report has no credibility and it defeats the purpose of the working group,” said Mr Tarigami. In what was seen as yet another “legacy seeking move”, the Centre got the working group chairman Justice (retd) Saghir Ahmad to pen a report that said the Centre could consider the proposal on autonomy for J&K to the pre-1953 position. The report even made another audacious recommendation that the fate of Article 370 should be decided through a referendum. “The question of ‘autonomy’ and its demand can be examined in the light of the “Kashmir Accord” or in some other manner or on the basis of some other formula as the present prime minister may deem fit and appropriate so as to restore the ‘autonomy’ to the extent possible. The question of appointment of the governor and dismissal of the popular government by the governor may be considered and resolved,” the report said. On the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the report said a group of central government and state government officers as well as people’s representatives may be constituted for reviewing the application of the Act and to assess whether it can be withdrawn from any part of the state.