Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today rebutted the calls to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants Jammu and Kashmir its special status. Calls to repeal Article 370 have been growing in the aftermath of the terror attack in Pulwama as part of the backlash against Kashmiris. Appealing that no "wrong impression" should be made about Kashmir and Kashmiris based on the Pulwama attack, Mr Kumar categorically sent out a message that Article 370 should not be "touched".
"You know our stand on this issue. But I would like to make it clear that when the provision for Article 370 was made in the Constitution, there should not be any debate".
At the height of the political controversy over Article 370, Mr Kumar had warned the government against repealing it, saying it would create more trouble.
Today, he said, "Please go ahead and take whatever action is required (regarding the terror attack). There's no debate over that. But it doesn't mean you will touch the topic of Article 370".
His words are seen as another warning to ally BJP, which has the repeal of Article 370 as part of its core ideology.
The BJP has also admitted that it would make the necessary amendment to the constitution once they have the numbers in parliament to push through the bill. A constitution amendment bill can be passed only by two-thirds majority in parliament.
A plea challenging Article 370, meanwhile, is pending in the Supreme Court, which said it would hear the matter in April. The hearing was pushed back after a request from the Centre and the state government, which contended that the political situation in the state was sensitive.
But the matter gained momentum again after he Pulwama attack, in which 40 men of the CRPF were killed by a homegrown terrorist belonging to Jaish-e Mohammad. There were calls to fast-track the repeal of the Article 370.
"The time has come to scrap Article 370, it encourages separatists and poses a danger to the unity and integrity of the country," Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In parts of the country, Kashmiri students and traders have been targeted since the terror strike, National Conference chief Omar Abdullah said today. The former Chief Minister has expressed anguish over what he called the "silence" of the BJP and Congress over the issue.
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