Senior Congress leader and India’s former finance minister P Chidambaram Saturday said “most” Kashmiris actually want autonomy when they demand ‘azadi’ from India.
“ My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi, most people— I am not saying all— the overwhelming majority want autonomy .”
“ Therefore, I think we should seriously examine that question and consider on what areas we can give autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. It is perfectly within the Constitution of India. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India but it will have larger powers as promised under Article 370,” Chidambaram said at an event in Rajkot in response to a question on the Indian government’s appointment of a “representative” for “sustained dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir.”
In an interview with The Wire news portal , Chidambaram said the appointment of former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma to hold talks in Kashmir doesn’t indicate a change of heart or approach by the Centre in its policy but that it will continue to hold on to its “muscular policy and military solution”.
Chidambaram said he was worried about what was happening in the valley as there was a deep ferment there.
“The appointment of the interlocutor should not lead us to think that there is a change of heart of the government. I don’t believe that there is a change of heart or change of approach. I still believe that they will continue to hold on to the muscular policy and military solution,” the Congress leader said
Chidambaram said the appointment of Sharma to open talks with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir was a “diversionary move” to appease a section that was asking why the government was not holding talks in the state.
He said Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh had clarified that Sharma was not an interlocutor and Army chief General Bipin Rawat had stressed that the move won’t have any impact on military operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I think those two voices reflect the real view of the government,” he said.