Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Kavinder Gupta on Tuesday said he would expunge any “anti-national remarks” made in the Assembly by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The previous day Mufti was reported to have said that attempts to weaken Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special autonomy to the state, were the biggest “anti-national act”.
Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rajeev Jasrotia demanded the expunction, saying, “How can I be called anti-national for my viewpoint. I stand by what my elders have been fighting for...there should be a verdict on those who talk of autonomy or self-rule,” The Indian Express reported.
National Conference and Congress legislators also sought a clarification from Mufti on her statement, which then led to chaos in the Assembly, forcing Speaker Gupta to adjourn the proceedings. Once the MLAs re-assembled, he clarified that he would first examine the proceedings and then decide whether any expunction was needed. “The BJP and Peoples Democratic Party may have their own agenda, but as Speaker, I say that yesterday’s House proceedings have not placed before me by the Assembly secretariat yet,” Gupta said.
The episode raises questions on the ruling alliance in the Valley between the People’s Democratic Party and BJP which has often reiterated its stand to scrap the special Constitutional provision for Kashmir and have the state integrated with India entirely. “There are some forces within this country who think that by scrapping Article 370, the issue of Kashmir will be resolved and everything will be alright...We need to work together to save the composite culture which Article 370 protects,” Mufti had said in the Assembly on Monday.