Kashmiris demanding 'azaadi' actually seek autonomy, says P Chidambaram; BJP slams remarks

Months after accusing the Centre of adopting a 'muscle flexing' strategy to bring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said that people in Kashmir who demand azaadi actually seek autonomy for the state

Talking at an event in Rajkot during his visit in Gujarat, the former home minister spoke on a slew of issues ranging from the recent Taj Mahal controversy to demonetisation.

He added that based on his interaction with people in Jammu and Kashmir, most people want autonomy for the state and the Centre should consider providing the same.

He was quoted by ANI as saying,“My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azaadi, most people want autonomy.”

He further advocated the demand for autonomy by saying that although Jammu and Kashmir should get all the protection promised under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, it should remain a part of India. He further added,"Therefore, I think we should seriously examine the autonomy demand. It is very much within the Constitution. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India with some amount of autonomy."

In his interview with The Wire, he said the government's Kashmir policy was "misguided" and that had deteriorated the situation in the state.

He was quoted IANS as saying,"The situation in Kashmir is worse than at any time before, and certainly worse than what it was in 2011. All the good work was done between 2011 and say up to even the middle of 2015 after the NDA came to power... all that has been wiped out in the last two years." 

Chidambaram's statement met with strongly-worded criticism, with Union minister Piyush Goyal saying that the time has come for 'azaadi from the Congress.'

The veteran Congress leader had expressed his opinion on the Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy issues several times this year. In July, he had asserted that the only way to find a "political solution" to this "political problem" is through talks.

Chidambaram was also a part of all-party delegations to Jammu and Kashmir in 2010 and 2016. At the event, Chidambaram also spoke about the recent controversy surrounding Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel.

He dubbed as "outrageous" the BJP's demand for Patel's resignation from the Rajya Sabha. The BJP has launched a scathing attack on Patel, stating that a suspected Islamic State operative arrested recently used to work at a hospital where he had been a trustee.

Responding to the BJP's demand, Chidambaram said, "I am amazed by such outrageous demands. Ahmed Patel was a trustee of the hospital and had resigned in 2015.

This person who was arrested seems to have joined the hospital as a technician last year and had resigned a couple of days prior to his arrest." He also lashed out at the BJP over recent controversial remarks that the Taj Mahal was built by 'traitors' and is a 'blot of Indian culture.'

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Oct 28, 2017 19:30:04 IST

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