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Karan Singh backs move to make Ladakh a UT

Congress leader Dr. Karan Singh.   | Photo Credit: PTI

As Congress leaders continued to speak in different voices on Jammu and Kashmir, party veteran and former ruler of J&K Dr. Karan Singh on Thursday said he supported the Centre's move to remove Article 35-A and make Ladakh a Union Territory. He, however, stressed that the decision should not lead to any communal tension and J&K should be restored as a State as soon as possible.

“The drastic measure, however, appears to enjoy the overwhelming support of Parliament as well as around the country, including Jammu and Ladakh. I have been pondering deeply over the issue. Personally, I don't agree with a blanket condemnation of these developments.There are several positive points,” he said in a statement.

“Ladakh's emergence as a Union Territory is to be welcomed. In fact, I had suggested this as far back as 1965 when I was still the Sadar-i-Riyasat of J&K and had proposed the reorganisation of the State,” he said and suggested retaining the Hill Councils of Kargil and Leh.

“The gender discrimination in Article 35A needed to be addressed as also the long-awaited enfranchisement of lakhs of West Pakistan refugees and the reservations for the Scheduled Tribes which will be welcomed. There will be fresh delimitation, which for the first time, will ensure a fair division of political power between Jammu and Kashmir region,” he noted.

His statement comes just two days after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) adopted a resolution deploring the move as “unilateral, brazen and totally undemocratic.”

Dr. Singh, who has been a special invitee to the CWC, seemed undeterred even as he urged the Centre to start a dialogue with mainstream political parties of J&K to normalise the situation and restore Statehood.

“At all cost, communal harmony should be maintained and violence should be eschewed...With my lifelong involvement in J&K, a State founded by my ancestors and for which my father Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession, 1947, my sole intention is to further the intention of all sections of the State,” he said.

Move has people’s support: Ashwani Kumar

Echoing Dr. Singh, former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said the move had people's support.

 

“The Centre’s decision will have far reaching political and social consequences. Certainly issues of seminal importance regarding the future of our federal and inclusive polity arise. However, it is undeniable that at the present juncture the overwhelming sentiment is supportive of a fuller integration of J&K with India,” he told The Hindu.

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram, on the other hand, questioned the Centre's 'muscular' approach towards J&K.

“Shah Faesal came first in the Civil Services Examination and joined the IAS [Indian Administrative Service]. He has called the government's actions on J&K as "the biggest betrayal". If Shah Faesal thinks so, imagine what millions of ordinary people of J&K think. Has 'muscular nationalism' resolved any conflict anywhere in the world?" tweeted Mr. Chidambaram.

 

Though the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body, laid down the party line, several leaders from States such as Haryana and Maharashtra, where elections are due in a few months, continue to back the move.

Hooda’s stand

Former Haryana MP Deepender Hooda had said: “My opinion is that in today's situation, Article 370 is no more relevant. When the Article was imposed Nehruji said that it is temporary. I think for the unity of the country and development of Kashmiris, it is the right decision.”

The party has convened a meeting of the heads of all State units and Opposition leaders to brainstorm on the issue on Friday to explain the nuances of its position.


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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 9:20:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karan-singh-backs-move-to-make-ladakh-a-ut/article28906722.ece

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