Congress leader Karan Singh, whose father signed the terms of Kashmir’s accession in 1947, said today he did not agree with a “blanket condemnation” of the centre’s decisions, which, he said, were “unusually fast and caught all of us completely by surprise”. The decisions would have far-reaching implications on many levels, said Karan Singh, the last Sadr-e-Riyasat and first governor of the state.
“There are several positive points. Ladakh’s emergence as a Union Territory is to be welcomed,” Mr Singh, 88, said in a statement three days after the centre ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and announced that it would be split into two Union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Singh said he had suggested the measure for Ladakh way back in 1965 when he was Sadr-e-Riyasat. Listing what he saw as positives, he said there would be fresh delimitation which would ensure fair division of political power between the Jammu and Kashmir regions.
“The effort should be that Jammu and Kashmir attains full statehood as soon as possible so that its people can at least enjoy the political rights available to the rest of the country,” Mr Singh said.
On Kashmir, he said while many may be feeling “mortified”, it was important for political dialogue to continue. He also said it was unfair to dismiss the two main regional parties as anti-national. Leaders of legitimate political parties in Kashmir should be released as soon as possible, he said, and “a broad-based political dialogue initiated with them and with civil society in view of the drastically changed situation.”
The Congress veteran is the latest to veer from the party line and expressed support for at least a part of the move. Another Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has strongly opposed the decisions, calling it murder of democracy and a betrayal of Kashmir.
Mr Singh’s father Maharaja Hari Singh was the last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. “With my lifelong involvement in Jammu and Kashmir, a state founded by my ancestors and for which my father signed the Instrument f Accession in 1947, my sole concern is to further the welfare of all sections and regions of the state,” he wrote.