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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hazare distances himself from Bhushan's Kashmir remark

RALEGAN SIDDHI, 14 OCT: Mr Anna Hazare today distanced himself from fellow activist Mr Prashant Bhushan on the issue of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was not the team's stand and the lawyer-activist was airing his personal views. “Prashant Bhushan's statement (on Kashmir) is not the view of the team. These are his personal views. The team is not responsible for the comments. We are not in agreement with him,” Mr Hazare told reporters here. “We didn't like this (statement). It is not our view,” he said.

Mr Bhushan had triggered a controversy by supporting the idea of holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, following which he was attacked by three youths belonging to a right-wing group two days ago. Mr Hazare said 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.”

The 74-year-Gandhian said Mr Bhushan should seek permission for airing views on behalf of the team. “But for personal comments, what is the need for permission,” he said. Asked whether Mr Bhushan, a key member of the team who was also a member of the joint committee to draft Lokpal bill, would be removed from the team, Hazare said it had to be decided later. “The points he has made are not good. We will decide in future whether we will keep him or not,” he said.

Yesterday, key team member Ms Kiran Bedi had said the remarks made by Mr Bhushan reflected his personal views. “This is Bhushan's personal view. I am for better governance and people integration of Jammu and Kashmir,” Ms Bedi, who is currently in Amsterdam, had said. Swami Agnivesh, who was earlier associated with Team Anna, said dissenting voices should not be silenced by the use of force though he was for upholding Jammu and Kashmir's integration with India as full and final.

“Citizens should uphold Jammu and Kashmir's integration with India as full and final. There can be no going back to pre-1947 situation. There can be no situation in which any part of the Indian territory or people can be allowed to secede,” Agnivesh said.

He said the government and political parties should unitedly come up with a time-bound action plan to fully integrate PoK with India. “The large-scale presence of Chinese troops in PoK should be taken as a threat to India's overarching sovereignty. This threat must be dealt with all the seriousness it deserves and earnestly. At the same time, we must ensure that human rights of our people living in Jammu and Kashmir are not violated. Dissenting voices of certain individuals or groups as long as they are being raised through non-violent and constitutional methods should not be silenced by the use of force,” he said.

As Mr Hazare's comments triggered a fresh controversy, activist Mr Arvind Kejriwal addressed a Press conference in New Delhi. There he sought to say that Mr Hazare hadn't meant that the lawyer should be removed from the team. “He is an integral part of the team. He is a very 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,” Mr Kejriwal said. I spoke to Anna over telephone. 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,” he said.

A meeting of Team Anna's core committee was held in Noida in which a resolution, saying Kashmir is an integral part of India and that the “complex” J&K problem should be solved through peaceful discussions, was adopted. However, Mr Hazare, Mr Bhushan and Ms Bedi did not attend the meeting. Ms Bedi is in Amsterdam while Mr Bhushan has left for the USA. His father Mr Shanti Bhushan attended the meeting.


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