Article 370 Has Eroded: Farooq Abdullah17 September 2010
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today said Article 370 has 'eroded' and Jammu and Kashmir should be given autonomy within framework of the Indian constitution. 'Article 370 has eroded over a period of time and time has come to look into Jammu and Kashmir autonomy within the constitutional framework. Any other solution within the ambit of Indian constitution can be tried,' Abdullah told reporters on the sidelines of a function here. In reply to a question, the New and Renewable Energy Minister said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should be gradually lifted from the areas of the state where it is not needed. On the proposed visit of an all party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said, 'It is a goodwill visit and all, including Hurriyat leaders should meet them.' Speaking about hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani Abbdullah said, 'Geelani thinks that India will leave Kashmir. But every Hindustani will fight for Kashmir.' Earlier, addressing a group of Kashmiri students, Abdullah said there were forces operating in Kashmir who do not want it to remain a part of India. The National Conference Chairman told the students that the valley was undergoing a difficult phase and asserted that 'Omar (Chief Minister) is not afraid and will not run away'. 'It is not a small battle and the adversary is formidable', Abdullah said, adding Pakistan would not abandon its designs and stop infiltration. He assured the students that the schools and colleges that are closed in Kashmir now would reopen in due course and asked them to write to their counterparts in valley to shun the path of violence. Later speaking at the inauguration of '22nd Pune Ganesh Festival' Abdullah asked the people not to react to Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya issue due on September 24 and added that reason should prevail over sentiments. 'We should not fight over mosques and temples... let us think of India and not divide her,' he said. On Kashmir, he said those who talk of 'independence' and joining Pakistan would have to be defeated at all cost and asserted that the state was 'an integral part of India.' Those who present on the occasion included Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi, who is also founder of the festival.