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'Rational' debate must on Article 370, suffering of Kashmiri Pandits: Narendra Modi

Monday, 2 December 2013 - 5:39pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: PTI

A day after he was criticised by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for his remark on Article 370, Narendra Modi today tried to shift the focus, saying he demands a "rational" debate on it and other issues including suffering of Kashmiri pandits.

"We need rational & focused debate not only on 370 but other issues relating to J&K, including suffering of sections of J&K society," he said on twitter.

Seeking to take credit for raising the issue, he said, "Glad that after my call for a debate on Article 370, it is being widely debated among people & across TV, social media." The BJP Prime Ministerial candidate drew strong reactions yesterday by raising the issue of equal rights for women in Jammu and Kashmir while alleging discrimination, with Omar saying he is either "ill-informed or lying".

Modi had cited the example of Omar and his sister Sara's marriage outside the state to suggest that women did not have the same rights as men in J-K unlike in other parts of the country.

"Wounds of suffering caused to various communities in J&K are still fresh in our hearts. We need to talk about uniting instead of dividing.

"No one can ignore sufferings of the Kashmiri Pandits for so many years. We remain committed to working towards justice for the community.

"(Arun) Jaitley ji has brought out the discriminatory attitude in J&K...said this has no place in law," he tweeted.

He said, it is said about Jammu and Kashmir that "if there is heaven on earth, it is here. We all need to work to make J&K a heaven of peace, integration & diversity." BJP had appeared to soften its stand for scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir with Modi saying there should be at least a debate on whether or not it has benefited the state.

Addressing a rally in Jammu yesterday, Modi said his party wanted a discussion on various aspects of the constitutional provision.

He also echoed the views expressed by BJP President Rajnath Singh, who earlier had told the 'Lalkar' rally that if Article 370 proved to be beneficial, his party would stand by the measure.

"As per Constitution, the debate will continue whether the Article 370 will end or continue-- at least there should be debate whether Article 370 has benefitted J&K or not," the Gujarat Chief Minister had said.

The views of Modi and Singh marked a departure from BJP's position seeking complete abrogation of Article 370.

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