Omar Submits Controversial Working Group Report To PM

30 December 2009
The Economic Times

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday submitted the controversial report of the working group to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that has recommended autonomy “to the extent possible” to the state. The report has said that the autonomy demand should be examined in the light of the Kashmir Accord. It has made another controversial recommendation - to hold a referendum on Article 370. “It’s a 60-year-old matter and should be settled once for all,” the report has said. The National Conference has been demanding autonomy for the state, including more decentralisation of powers and more authority to the state government. Only three departments - defence, external affairs and currency - should remain with India. The party has been maintaining that the autonomy of the state, as it existed pre-1953, should be restored. The report has already kicked off a controversy as members of the working group were not consulted while finalising its recommendations. In a letter to the prime minister, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and a member of the Working Group, Arun Jaitley, has said that it was the personal opinion of the judge who headed the panel. “This report at best is the personal opinion of Justice (Retd) Saghir Ahmad or of those who helped him draft it. It is certainly not a consensus document of the working group. The report is a farce in so far it claims to be the recommendations of a Working Group. It deserves to be fully ignored,” Mr Jaitley had said in a letter to the prime minister. Members of the panel, who have come out against the report, maintain that the report was unilaterally authored after virtually abandoning the Working Group. “What was the compulsion to by-pass the working group and produce the report? I have an uneasy feeling that the Government wants to show to some sections of the international community that it is willing to dilute the Indian position on Jammu & Kashmir. Is this report showcased for that purpose,” Mr Jaitley had asked in his letter to the prime minister.