What he said "is not right, Kashmir is inseparable part of India"

The blows rained on Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan by thugs from the Sri Ram Sena had a distant echo in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra with Anna Hazare telling reporters on Friday that he did not agree with Mr. Bhushan's views on Kashmir.

“Prashant Bhushan did not ask anyone in the team before making the statement [on a referendum being one way to solve the Kashmir problem]. Those are his personal views,” the anti-corruption activist said in his hometown.

Mr. Bhushan’s remarks were the ostensible “reason” given by the Ram Sena goons for assaulting him in his Supreme Court chambers on Wednesday.

At the same time, Mr. Hazare made it clear that he did not agree with Mr. Bhushan. “What [he] has said is not right. We do not agree with what he is saying,” he stated. However, when asked if this difference of opinion would result in Mr. Bhushan being asked to step out of Team Anna, he replied: “If anyone needs to be removed from the team, the core committee will decide together.” Much speculation ensued in the media when he said this, following which Mr. Hazare added: “I don’t think Mr. Bhushan must be removed on this issue.”

He emphasised that rooting out corruption from the country, and fighting for the Jan Lokpal Bill was Team Anna’s sole agenda. “We will not talk about any other issue.”

However, when asked about his opinion on the Kashmir issue, Mr. Hazare said, “Kashmir is an important, inseparable part of India, and having any other opinion about this is not acceptable. I am ready to give my life for Kashmir.”

Meeting separately in the Capital, Team Anna members also distanced themselves from Mr. Bhushan’s remarks but insisted he is, and will remain, part of the core group.

The Anna core group’s resolution on Kashmir said it was committed to the integrity and unity of India, of which Kashmir was an integral part. It further said the Kashmir issue was complex and a solution needed to be found “within the framework of the Constitution” through a dialogue.

It also noted Mr. Bhushan’s immense contribution to the anti-corruption agitation and said it was proud of his association with the team of which he continued to be a member.

The meeting was held in the absence of Mr. Hazare, who was in Ralegan Siddhi, and Mr. Bhushan and Kiran Bedi, both of whom are abroad. Mr. Bhushan’s father, Shanti Bhushan, and Arvind Kejriwal were present at the meeting.

Mr. Kejriwal told reporters he suspected the attack on Mr. Bhushan a couple of days ago and other members on Thursday was a well-planned conspiracy and it had nothing to do with Mr. Bhushan’s statement on the Kashmir issue.

Mr. Kejriwal said he talked to Mr. Hazare, who denied having cast any doubts about Mr. Bhushan’s continued association with the team.

The controversy immediately prompted the Bharatiya Janata Party to claim Mr. Hazare had “endorsed” the party’s views on Kashmir. Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “We are grateful to Anna for espousing the BJP’s views on Kashmir. We have always maintained Kashmir is an integral part of India and he has reiterated this. We are grateful to him.”

As for the efforts being made by Mr. Hazare and his team members to deny they got any help from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for their anti-corruption agitation, Mr. Rudy said, “Even Jayaprakash Narayan initially had similar reservations about the RSS,” but had later described it as a “patriotic” organisation.

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