Row over Article 370 escalates

Srinagar/New Delhi, May 28: The row over Article 370 of the Constitution escalated Wednesday, with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asking the central government to come clean on the “stakeholders” it was talking to and the RSS stressing the state would remain integral part of India.

Abdullah Wednesday asked the central government to come clean on the “stakeholders” it was talking to on the contentious issue of revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status within the Indian republic.

His comments came a day after Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh stirred up a controversy by declaring the new government has started the process for repealing Article 370, on which the Bharatiya Janata Party has been harping for decades.

“We will oppose the move tooth and nail. Since it is the minister of state PMO talking and hence it is a policy matter. They (central government) must come clean and share who are the stakeholders they have talked to,” Abdullah told journalists in Srinagar.

Earlier Tuesday, Abdullah said: “Jammu and Kashmir would not be part of India if Article 370, which grants special status to the state, is revoked.”

“Mark my words & save this tweet – long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Art 370 will still exist,” he tweeted Tuesday.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) hit back at Abdullah, saying the state would remain an integral part of India irrespective of Article 370 being repealed or not.

“J&K won’t be part of India? Is Omar thinking it’s his parental estate? (Article) 370 or no 370, J&K has been and will always be an integral part of India,” RSS spokesman Ram Madhav wrote on his Twitter handle.

Abdullah said the move to re-open the issue of Article 370 would amount to re-opening the issue of the state’s accession with the union.

“It is akin to opening up the issues of decisions those are to do with the ratification of accession,” he asserted.

Article 370 specifies that except for defence, foreign affairs, communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the instrument of accession), the Indian Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws.

Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and Lok Sabha member Mehbooba Mufti too said her party would oppose any move to revoke Article 370.

Abdullah also took exception to central Minorities Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah’s statement that reservations are not the solution to the problems of the Indian Muslims.

“It is not so easy and simple. She will take some time to get the grip of her ministry. Why should it be an issue with the Muslim reservations? Then go after the reservations of other sections too,” Abdullah said.