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Article 370 cannot be touched, says Mehbooba

Article 370 cannot be touched, says Mehbooba
At the same time, she contended that it was not a climbdown for the BJP, which has been in favour of abrogating Article 370 that grants special status to the state.

Mehbooba spoke on various issues including the recent row triggered by her father and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed who credited Pakistan, Hurriyat and militant groups for the conduct of peaceful elections in the state.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had distanced the Centre as well as their party from Sayeed’s remarks.

Asked about BJP not pressing its traditional stand, Mehbooba said, “No no, I won’t say its a climbdown for any party. After all everybody knows that you cannot touch the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and so times are changing, people are changing and nobody is going to be taken by these slogans anymore....”

“...two flags and a separate Constitution is a reality...I don’t want to get into this. We have to give tribute to the people of the state by phasing out AFSPA and maintaining status quo on Article 370,” she told Karan Thapar on Headlines On Thursday.

Asked whether PDP has diluted its long held stand on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA), she said there was no “climb up or climb down” and the state government will examine whether it was necessary to keep Disturbed Areas Act in force in any particular area or not.

“Once Disturbed Areas Act is lifted, the Centre will examine lifting of AFSPA,” she said and added that a final call on this issue has to be taken by the Centre.

The PDP President, however, said there are some apprehensions in the state as well as in the rest of the country. “So certain steps have to be taken to clear these apprehensions so that these things fall in line,” she said.

Lone dismisses reports of unhappiness over portfolios

Separatist-turned politician Sajjad Lone on Thursday said he was in Kashmir due to personal reasons, and dismissed the reports that he was miffed over being given a low-key portfolio in the PDP-BJP coalition government. “I am in Srinagar for purely personal reasons. Fail to understand the cacophonous din of me being miffed,” Lone wrote on Twitter. Repeated attempts to reach Lone for comments did not fructify as his close aides said the former separatist leader had left Srinagar also for some “personal work”.

Lone, who was sworn in as a cabinet minister in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government from BJP quota, did not assume charge of the Science and Technology and Animal Husbandry Departments and arrived here. This development gave rise to speculations that Lone was not happy with portfolios.

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