The Congress has promised that it won’t allow any change in constitutional position on Article 370, will review AFSPA and reduce presence of armed forces in the Kashmir Valley if it wins the Lok Sabha polls.
In its manifesto ‘Congress will deliver’ released about 10 days ahead of the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, the party also promised “suitable changes” in the text of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act “to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights”.
It also promised to ensure safety of students, traders and others belonging to the state and protect their right to study or do business in the rest of the country.
“Congress has stood witness to the developments in Jammu and Kashmir since the Instrument of Accession was signed on October 26, 1947. Congress affirms that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India. We also acknowledge the unique history of the state and the unique circumstances under which the state acceded to India that led to the inclusion of Article 370 in the Constitution of India. Nothing will be done or allowed to change the Constitutional position,” the Congress manifesto said.
The party also promised to immediately hold “free and fair” assembly elections in the state which has been under President’s Rule since December last year, after six months of Governor’s rule.
“Congress promises to review the deployment of armed forces, move more troops to the border to stop infiltration completely, reduce the presence of the Army and Central Armed Police Forces in the Kashmir Valley, and entrust more responsibility to the J&K police for maintaining law and order,” it said.
On reports of attacks on Kashmiri students and traders in different parts of the country post Pulwama suicide bombing, the party said it was “deeply concerned about the cases of discrimination and harassment” and will ensure their safety and their right to study or do business.
The party manifesto said the Kasmir problem could be solved only through dialogue and that it will take that path if it comes to power.
“We will adopt a two-pronged approach: firstly, uncompromising firmness on the border and ending infiltration; and secondly, absolute fairness in dealing with the demands of the people and winning their hearts and minds.
“Jammu and Kashmir and its problems deserve a large-hearted approach that will eschew muscular militarism and legalistic formulations and look for an innovative federal solution. Congress promises to find such a solution through patient dialogue and talks with all stakeholders in the state,” it said.
“Congress promises the people of J&K talks without pre-conditions. We will appoint three interlocutors from civil society to facilitate such talks,” it added.