Mixed response to report on Centre-Kashmir ties


Srinagar : The recommendations of a working group on Centre-State ties – autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, but no union territory status for the Ladakh region – has been welcomed by the ruling National Conference (NC) but has evoked mixed response from other mainstream political parties in the state.

Support TwoCircles

The working group, headed by Justice Saghir Ahmad, a retired Kashmir High Court chief justice, submitted its report to the state government in winter capital Jammu on Wednesday.

“The working group has vindicated the stand of the NC on grant of autonomy to the state,” senior NC leader Mehboob Beg said here Thursday.

In its report, the working group said: “The question of autonomy and its demand by the NC can be examined in light of the (1947) Kashmir Accord or some other manner or on the basis of some other formula as the prime minister might deem fit and appropriate so as to restore autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir state to the extent possible.”

The working group was one of the five Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set up as a confidence building measure in Jammu and Kashmir. The groups were set up after the second Round Table conference chaired by the prime minister here on May 25, 2006.

The other four working groups had previously submitted their reports.

Interestingly, the working group report has said that it could not comment on the formula of self-rule advocated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as no document on this was furnished by the PDP.

“Self-rule perhaps pertains to autonomy in a wider context and can be considered by the centre after the PDP furnishes the document to the centre,” the working group report says.

PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar said his party expected the working group would hold more sittings before submitting its report and that is why the self-rule document was not given to it. “We are surprised that the working group has already submitted its report,” Akhtar said.

Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, the state secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also expressed surprise at the working group report, terming it “inconclusive”.

“Being a member of the working group, we had decided to sit again. It was a surprise for me when I learnt that the working group had already submitted its recommendations,” Tarigami told reporters on the phone from New Delhi.

The separatists here refused to comment on the recommendations, saying these pertained to the demands of pro-India political parties and had nothing to do with the demands of the separatists.

“We have no comment to offer. Better ask those who seek autonomy or self-rule for the state. It pertains to their demands,” said an activist of the hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani.

Geelani was not available for comment himself as he is in New Delhi undergoing eye surgery.

The common man on the street did not offer any reaction as the report had not yet been made public.

“I have not read the report so far and thus cannot react to it,” said college teacher Muzaffar Ahmad.