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Kashmir’s problems won’t be solved by coercing PM, Home Minister: PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Baig

Stepping away from his party’s line once again, senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig on Thursday said Jammu and Kashmir’s problems couldn’t be solved by “coercing” the prime minister, home minister or the National Security Advisor (NSA), and all talks had to be held in a “dignified and civilised manner”.

“My opinion is that if you want to talk about issues relating to people of Jammu and Kashmir, you will have to talk in a dignified and civilised manner. You can’t achieve anything by coercing the prime minister, home minister or NSA,” Baig was quoted by ANI as saying.

The former deputy chief minister also targetted PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, saying her comment that “no one in J&K would hold the Tricolour if Article 370 was tampered with” was wrong.

“Statements like that resulted in the downgrading of J&K from state to Union Territory. That did not help us. That should not have been made,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

Mufti had made the statement in July 2017, when she was still Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, with the BJP as her alliance partner. Mufti had said many mainstream political workers in Kashmir, of PDP and National Conference, had been killed carrying the flag of India on their shoulders, but if Kashmir’s special status was tampered with, “is jhande [tricolor] ko kaandha dene waala koi nahi hoga Kashmir mein [there will be nobody to carry the Tricolor on their shoulders].”

Earlier too, Baig had tried making what are seen as outreaches to New Delhi, going against his party’s stated position. In October, when NSA Ajit Doval had held a lunch for a group of 27 European lawmakers — the first foreign delegation to visit Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 — Baig had attended it. The PDP had then said the leader did so in his personal capacity.

Baig had also criticised the PDP’s decision to boycott local body polls in the state in 2018.

His latest remarks came on a day when a group of 15 foreign envoys arrived in Srinagar for a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the first visit by diplomats ever since the revocation of the state’s special status followed by its bifurcation into two Union Territories in August last year.

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