Azam Khan questions Kashmir’s accession; Cong, BJP fume

Samajwadi Party leader Mohammad Azam Khan’s remarks on Kashmir have given birth to a new controversy in the state.

Lucknow: Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan,
who rejoined the party recently, has stoked a controversy
when he questioned whether Kashmir was part of India after he
said there is only one Muslim minister in the Union Cabinet
who is not from this country but who is from Kashmir.

At a public meeting in Badaun, about 250 km from here,
last night, Khan said that Ghulam Nabi Azad is the lone Muslim
cabinet minister in the UPA government but he is a "Kashmiri."
"Only one Muslim minister(Azad) is there in the (Union)
Cabinet and that too not of India, but from Kashmir. That
Kashmir, which is still controversial and we don`t know
whether that is part of India or not...," Khan said in remarks
that could embarass the SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Khan made a reference to Azad while hitting out at the
Congress for not being serious about the interests of
minorities citing that the UPA government had only one Muslim
in the cabinet.

The Congress condemned Khan`s remarks as "most
unfortunate" while BJP dubbed them as "irresponsible." There
was also a demand that Khan be booked on charges of treason.

"There is a practice of issuing irresponsible statements
to remain in news and Azam Khan`s statement in Badaun that
Ghulam Nabi Azad is not from India but from Kashmir which is
not clear whether it is in India or Pakistan is another such
example," BJP spokesman Vijay Pathak told PTI.

Earlier it was Congress leader, Digvijay Singh who
made a controversial statment harming national interest and
now it is Azam Khan who is doing the same and a treason case
should be filed against him, Pathak said.

Congress spokesman Subodh Srivasatava while terming the
statement as most unfortunate both for the SP and Khan
said that the former would have to think whether it has done
the right thing by taking him back in the party.

"It is most unfortunate that leaders such as Khan are
in the forefront of Muslim politics and the SP would have to
think whether it has done the right thing in taking him back
", Srivasatav said adding that they should introspect whether
such statments are in the interest of the nation or not.

Moreover, Khan`s statement is also wrong factually as
there are several Muslim leaders in the UPA government other
than Ghulam Nabi Azad, Srivastava added.
Defending Khan, Samajwadi Party spokesman, Rajendra
Chaudhary said the statement should be understood in the
context it was issued.

"Khan spoke with regard to the problem of Kashmir which
is the outcome of Congress policies and it should not be
read out of context", Chaudhary said adding that there should
not be any doubt in anyone`s mind over Khan`s patriotism.

Azam Khan is known for his critical political statements
in the past and had even landed in a problem for his remarks
on the Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow and calling Bharat Mata as

In Delhi, AICC spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi described
Azam`s statement as "unfortunate" and advised the Samajwadi
Party leader to brush up his knowledge of Indian history and

"It is most unfortunate that coming from a state like
Uttar Pradesh, Azam Khan does not treat Jammu and Kashmir an
integral party of India. Azam Khan should read and educate
himself about India`s political history and geography,"
Singhvi said.

He also rejected Azam`s allegation that Congress was
not serious about the interests of minorities.

"Congress has stood up for all sections" Singhvi said.