There is ‘no’ Kashmir issue: BJP Minister says India needs to ‘change the discourse’
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There is need to “change the discourse” around Jammu and Kashmir as there is “no such thing as the Kashmir issue,” BJP minister Jitendra Singh has said, in a major snub to alliance partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office said this after paying a pictorial homage to slain Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and Army officer Lt Ummer Fayyaz in New Delhi on Tuesday, according to news agency PTI.

The statement comes a day after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said there was need to bring Pakistan to the negotiating table and find a way for ‘permanent peace’ in the State.

“There is need to change the discourse (on Jammu and Kashmir) for future generations. We have to change the agenda. There is no such issue as Kashmir issue. It is as much a part of India as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or any other state,” Singh said.

“The only issue, if at all, is how to retrieve the part of Kashmir which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan for the past 70 years and restore the Valley in the same format as was handed over by Maharaja Hari Singh,” Singh said.

In an interview with news agency PTI Tuesday, Mehbooba had “welcomed the recent attempts by the Centre and the ruling party to reach out to Kashmiris.”

“These are welcome signs,” Mufti had said, while referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 15 speech where he had asked Indians  to “embrace Kashmiris” and the statements of Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s and BJP leader Ram Madhav on Kashmir talks.

Mehbooba had said she saw an “opportunity to build peace and give Kashmiris back their dignity” and that her  government was in favour of holding talks with everyone as was enshrined in the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and the BJP.

“There is need to take the bull by its horns and finding a way out for bringing in a ‘permanent’ peace in the State,” she said.

She had further said that there was “need to bring Pakistan to the negotiating table once again. After all, the relations between India and Pakistan have a direct bearing on Jammu and Kashmir. Smooth relations between the two countries have always seen better life for people in the State.”

In May this year, Mehbooba had  said Modi was the only hope to address the 70-year-old Kashmir issue once and for all.

Jitendra Singh said the India has been able to “neutralize” many militants and foil infiltration bids. “Our crackdown on terror funding in the Valley is another step towards restoring normalcy in the state,” he said.

Jitendra Singh said the foreign outreach by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the major achievements of the current dispensation .

“Many nations that were earlier not convinced with India’s position on Kashmir have come around. It gives the country a major boost in putting forth its stand on the matter on a global platform,” he said.

Hitting out at the past political regimes for “mishandling Kashmir”, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, who was also present, said the Modi government was the only “ray of hope” for the people.

“In a first, the Centre and the state government are on the same page with regard to dealing with terrorism and separatism,” he said.

On questions being raised against the PDP-BJP coalition in the state, the Deputy CM said such an alliance was a “bold decision”. “We had to leave a lot of issues dear to us for the larger interest of the state,” he said.

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