Commenting on the controversy raging over the comments made by MoS in the PMO Jitendra Singh over the need for a “rethink” of Article 370, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Karan Singh said he has “been distressed by the fierce controversy that has broken out in the press and electronic media with regard to Article 370, flowing from an avoidable statement by the MoS in PM’s office.”
In a statement issued on Thursday, the veteran leader said, “The whole question is extremely sensitive and must be handled coolly and in a mature fashion. The sort of statements issued from both sides will only create further turmoil and tension in the Jammu & Kashmir state.”
Singh, whose father Maharaj Hari Singh agreed to accede to India by signing the Instrument of Accession in October 1947 said his father had taken the decision under “unusual circumstances” and said any “steam-roller approach would only increase tensions instead of quelling things.
He said, “Let it be recalled that my father Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947 under unusual circumstances when a full-scale war was raging due to the Pakistani based tribal invasion. It is true that that Instrument was exactly the same as the document signed by all the other former provincial states. However, whereas the other states later signed merger agreements, the relationship of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of the country was governed by a special set of circumstances, and hence given a special position. The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which I signed into law in 1957, is still in force.”
Accepting that J&K is an ‘integral part’ of India, Singh said that does not necessarily mean that it has to be treated exactly on par with other states. He said, “Hong Kong is an ‘integral part’ of China but has been given a special dispensation. There are in fact numerous examples around the world in which, due to special circumstances, certain areas or regions have been given a special dispensation. Though all talk of secession is totally unacceptable and uncalled for, the steam-roller approach is also not appropriate.”
Asking all involved to me mindful of the sensitivity of the issue, Singh also said that 50 percent of the area of his father’s 84,000 sq miles state is in fact not in Indian possession. “It has been under Pakistan control since the UN’s brokered ceasefire on 1 January 1949, and Pakistan has leased a considerable portion of this land to China. An interesting point also is that in the three regions of the state that are with us, Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, the bulk of public opinion differs sharply on this issue,” he said.
Farmers harvest strawberries at a farm on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Appealing to all concerned to “tone down the rhetoric and not let the minister’s statement plunge the new government almost immediately into a complex and difficult situation,” Singh also urged the government and all involved to look at the whole question of Jammu & Kashmir in an integral fashion, including the international dimension, the constitutional position, the legal aspects as well as the political aspects.
“Such an integral review is overdue, but it has to be done in a cooperative rather than a confrontational manner,” he said.