India wants ‘autonomy’ or ‘self-rule’ for Kashmir
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Whether to grant self-rule or autonomy to held Kashmir is one of the options the Indian government will debate at various levels against the backdrop of its decision to review centre-state relations, Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil said on Wednesday.
However, he made clear that the ministry had not decided to grant autonomy to Kashmir yet.
Last month, National Conference patron Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah met Patil and afterwards claimed that New Delhi had agreed to set up a panel to discuss Kashmir’s autonomy and even named Abdul Rahim as their representative to discuss the issue with the government.
Patil said that the government would set up a new commission to review relations between New Delhi and states. Patil said granting autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir could be one of the subjects for debate before the high-level judicial and constitutional commission and the National Integration Council (NIC).
He said the state chief minister would also discuss the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Patil said unlike his predecessor LK Advani he would try to reach out to every Kashmiri group.
Advani held two rounds of talks with the moderate faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).
Patil said he would also engage scholars, businessmen, and representatives from all ethnic and religious groups in the talks. Without mentioning the Hurriyat which has rebuffed the Indian government’s talks offer, Patil said that the government would welcome everyone who wished to engage in the talks but would not push anybody for the same reason. He also made clear that the dialogue process would continue even if one or two groups refused to get involved.