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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Anna Hazare disowns Prashant Bhushan's J&K remarks

NEW DELHI: Faced with embarrassment over Prashant Bhushan's remarks advocating referendum for deciding the status of Jammu and Kashmir, Team Anna on Friday distanced itself from the lawyer-cum-activist's remarks and maintained that the northern state was an "integral'' part of India.

That Bhushan Junior's remarks had rattled the other members of the team was evident when their leader Anna Hazare while asserting that Jammu and Kashmir was very much a part of India dropped hints to suggest that the Supreme Court lawyer's continuance in the group was now under a cloud.

"Woh aage jaake hum log tay karenge, rakhna (hai), nahi rakhna (hai) (We will decide later whether he will remain with the team or not)," he told newspersons in his village, Ralegan Siddhi, in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district, when asked whether Bhushan, a key member of the team cobbled together by the anti-graft crusader to lead his campaign, will continue to be a part of the group.

"Whatever views he has articulated, that is not right," he said, two days after the junior Bhushan was attacked by three youth in his New Supreme Court lawyer's chamber.

The other members of the team too echoed similar sentiments, even though they clarified that Prashant Bhushan would remain a part of their group. A meeting of their core committee was held during the course of the day in Noida, in which a resolution stating that Kashmir was an integral part of the country was adopted.

Arvind Kejriwal, a key member of the group, later held a press conference in the Capital in which he clarified Anna's remarks on the Supreme Court lawyer. "He is an integral part of the team. He is a much respected citizen who has worked in several areas, including environment and human rights. He has played a crucial role in the anti-corruption movement also," Kejriwal said.

He said he had spoken to Anna over phone. "He told me that he did not say that. What he told me was that the committee will decide who should be in or out,'' Kejriwal said.

The core committee meeting could not be attended by Prashant Bhushan, who had since then left for the US, retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi, who was away in Amsterdam, besides Anna.

Kejriwal claimed that he had shown the resolution to Bhushan last evening and during his conversation, the lawyer told him that he has no problem with the movement taking a stand on Kashmir, even though he had his own views on the subject.

"Bhushan's statement (on Kashmir) is not the views of the team. He has never asked the team. These are his personal views. The team is not responsible for the comments. We are not in agreement with him," Kejriwal said, adding, "We did not like this (statement). It is not our view.''

Hazare, earlier in the day, had reiterated that Kashmir was an integral part of the country and he would do whatever he could do for the state. "Kashmir is an integral part of the country and it will remain so and we will have to do whatever we have to ensure this. This mindless argument on the issue should stop,'' he told newspersons in his village.

A day earlier, Bedi too had said the remarks made by Bhushan Jr were his personal views. "This is Bhushan's personal view. I am for better governance and integration of the people with Jammu and Kashmir," the retired police officer said.


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