Millennium Post

Prashant Bhushan retracts on remarks, says J&K an integral part of India

Under attack for reportedly advocating a referendum on Army deployment in Jammu and Kashmir, Bhushan said the deployment of armed forces in large numbers in the state must be done with people's wishes.

'The AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) is of the view that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Needless to say that I share this view,' he said in a statement here.

'Any reference to referendum shouldn't be misconstrued to mean plebiscite on Kashmir's relationship with India,' he added.

He said he had told two television channels that there was considerable alienation 'among the people of Kashmir which is primarily because of the human rights excesses by the security forces'.

The other factor, he said, was 'the impunity from prosecution given to them (security forces) by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

'I had said that impunity of AFSPA should be removed in order to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir.'

Bhushan said it was his view that the deployment of armed forces 'in huge numbers within Kashmir not for external defence or to prevent infiltration but for the security of the people... should not be done without the consent of the people of Kashmir.

'Of course the Union government is fully entitled to deploy the army for external defence in Kashmir as well as protecting the minorities there if there is a threat to minority rights.

'It is the prerogative of the state to deploy security forces including armed forces for any stretch (of time) to internal and external security.

'This prerogative must be exercised in the best interests of people and as far as possible with their consent.'
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