Farooq Abdullah said that the matter should be taken up in the upcoming Parliament session
Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah today asserted that autonomy to both sides of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was the "only solution", saying that India and Pakistan could not keep people of the region hostage to their ego.
He urged both the countries to take concrete political steps for resolving the vexed Kashmir issue.
"Autonomy to both sides of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is the only viable solution to the decades-old problem," Mr Abdullah said at a public meeting in the Keran area of Kupwara district.
The NC leader, who is a Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, is on a four-day tour to areas near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir.
"Both India and Pakistan cannot keep the people of the state hostage to their ego. It is time for the leadership of both countries to make the opening of all the traditional routes along the LoC a priority.
"Borders cannot be changed, but these can be made irrelevant and soft for a people-to-people exchange and opening new vistas of trade and commerce for the overall economic prosperity of the region," Mr Abdullah said.
The former Union minister said it was time for both the countries to accept the realities of the present times and initiate the process which was acceptable to all, including the people of the state.
"The elected representatives in Jammu and Kashmir have already made their stand clear when they passed an autonomy resolution in 2000 with a thumping majority. The government of India, therefore, must shun its rigidity and take it up in the upcoming Parliament session," he said.
Mr Abdullah said the two nuclear powers could not afford to go for a military solution to the Kashmir issue. "Therefore, the two (divided) parts of the state should be granted maximum autonomy," he asserted.
The NC leader said the intermittent skirmishes on the borders had only aggravated the problems on the two sides of Jammu and Kashmir.
Asking the party workers to remain united against the divisive forces, Mr Abdullah said people must be ready to safeguard the state's special status, which was under an "assault" from those who had always opposed Jammu and Kashmir's political rights and dignity.
"Article 35-A is vital and non-negotiable for the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Those trying to divide us on regional and religious lines to further their agenda will have to be defeated.
"This is a battle for the interests, rights and dignity of every single citizen of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of his religion, region, language and caste," he said.
Mr Abdullah said the National Conference was reaching out to the people in every nook and corner of the state in all the three regions to make them aware of the "disastrous ramifications" of Article 35-A being struck down.
"We will continue with this process of outreach and consensus-building at the grassroots level," Mr Abdullah said.