Autonomy Recommendations Fuel Political Debate In Kashmir20 March 2011
Jammu: The reported recommendation to restore some autonomous powers to Jammu and Kashmir has fuelled a predictable political debate, with opponents suggesting it would create more confusion than solve problems in the troubled state. According to reports, the government appointed interlocutors - Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari - in their yet-to-be submitted interim report on a political settlement of Kashmir have suggested restoration of autonomy, a special status enjoyed by the state till 1953, under Article 370 of the constitution. They have also have recommended a debate on issues like erosion of the special status, changing the nomenclature of heads of government and state - wazir-e-azam and sadr-e-riyasat, the process of nominating a governor and on provisions of Article 356 that empowers the central government to disqualify state governments. But the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - a known opponent of Article 370 - has termed the recommendations as 'regressive'. 'This is a regressive step. The interlocutors have destroyed their credibility, if they had any, by suggesting autonomy. How can the needles of a clock be reversed? It's unimaginable,' said the BJP's Chaman Lal Gupta. 'Any such recommendations would cause more friction and confusion in the state, rather than starting any reconciliation (to solve the problems),' Gupta told IANS. The BJP's view is supported by the National Panthers Party of Bhim Singh. Singh staged a sit-in in Jammu Friday against any move to restore autonomy to the state. But the ruling National Conference - the biggest advocate of autonomy - says more powers would 'restore the distinctive dignity' of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 'We want autonomy for our people because this describes our dignity and symbolises our special position within the country,' National Conference legislator Shamima Firdous said. In 2000, the National Conference passed a resolution in the state assembly for restoration of autonomy and sent it to the central government. But the resolution was trashed by the then BJP-led governmnt. Separatist leaders have always been rejecting any solution to the Kashmir issue within the framework of the constitution.