SRINAGAR: India’s former army chief and Minister of State for External Affairs Saturday said the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) had only asked for a “relook” at the Article 370 and not its abrogation.
“I think lot of misgivings has been created. Party’s line is very simple. There are lot of issues in the country which create a divisive dialogue and we need to look at this particular issue (Article 370) from that point of view,” he told reporters here.
Singh said the Article 370 “got introduced somewhere or the other because the people kept asking about it and I think all that the party said at that time was that we need to re-look at all things in the country which unnecessarily create problems. That is all.”
VK Singh’s cabinet colleague and senior party leader Jitendra Singh had recently said that abrogating Article 370 would remain a part of the BJP’s agenda, prompting the party’s candidates in Kashmir to warn that it might provoke the people to “pick up guns”.
“People will pick up guns if Article 370 is abrogated,” Dr Hina Bhat, candidate from Amirakadal and the prominent woman face of the BJP in the state, had been quoted as saying by media reports. “Kashmiris are on the verge of picking up guns again, and if it (Article 370) is abrogated, it will happen,” she had said.
Singh also defended the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), saying it did not give unlimited powers to forces.
“We have seen what has happened in Machil (fake encounter case where five army personnel including two officers were handed over life imprisonment for killing three civilians and passing them off as Pakistani militants). No civilian court would have given a decision in such a short time,” Singh said.
The former Army chief, who arrived here to meet BJP leaders and party candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, said AFSPA was only an “enabling act and the Army was quick in taking action whenever there was any mistake on the part of the soldiers.”
“The case has gone to Supreme Court. Supreme Court after having a look at the type of restrictions that the army has imposed said these are in tune with the thinking of the apex court. So, the Army or the soldiers does not enjoy unbridled power as people try to make it out,” said Singh.
Asked about the statement of former Home Minister P Chindambaram on AFSPA, Gen Singh said he did not attach much importance to the remarks of the Congress leader.
“I don’t give much weight to what Mr Chidambaram says. He says something at one time and second day he says something else. Let us not talk of it. And he doesn’t even know in what context he was talking,” he said.
Chidambaram while welcoming the Machil verdict said “AFSPA is an obnoxious law that has no place in a modern, civilised country.”
Singh also ruled out dialogue with Pakistan “till it continues to violate ceasefire along the Line of Control and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.”
On the standoffs with Chinese Army in Ladakh, Singh said there is an ongoing dialogue process.