Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the government’s militaristic approach to Jammu and Kashmir is pushing more people towards militancy, The Hindu reported.
The Congress leader said Jammu and Kashmir joined India under the “Instrument of Accession”. He said Kashmir ceded to India only on four subjects and said it would be autonomous on all other matters.
“Most people don’t know it, and those who know it have forgotten or conveniently ignored it,” Chidambaram said. “We are adopting a muscular, militaristic and majoritarian approach, which is pushing people more and more into the arms of the militants.”
Chidambaram was speaking at the launch of his book Undaunted: Saving The Idea of India in Chennai on Saturday.
He said governments must engage with the people of Kashmir. “It will take a year or two to win them [people of Kashmir] back, but if we engage with them and tell them ‘we understand your desire for autonomy’ and we are going to try our best,” Chidambaram said, according to ANI.
Chidambaram said governments, including the Congress governments, have eroded the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. “They are not asking for the Instrument of Accession to be scrapped and [seeking to] secede from India,” Chidambaram said. “We forget this fundamental fact – Vajpayee Ji and Dr Manmohan Singh recognised it and both of them genuinely believed that the Kashmir problem could be solved if we restore a large degree of autonomy to the Kashmir valley.”
The former minister also called for more powers to the states. “The states’ capacity to deliver today, like Kerala and Tamil Nadu on education and health care is better than the Centre’s,” he said. “We must devolve more powers to the States, and the Congress manifesto could promise greater federal powers.”
Chidambaram said the coalition governments of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh have delivered. “There are checks and balances in the system,” he said. “Can you imagine demonetisation happening in a coalition government? There is no way.”