Srinagar: Independent MLA Sheikh Rasheed, known for creating controversies, on Monday spoke the separatist language in the Assembly, claiming that Jammu and Kashmir is not India's "integral part" and demanding "plebiscite".
His comments drew angry reaction from the ruling BJP, which said he should resign from the Assembly and join separatists or migrate to Pakistan.
"Even if you send me to jail, debar me from contesting elections or hang me, it will not force me to change my stand on Kashmir," Rasheed said in the Assembly.
"J&K is neither India's integral part nor Pakistan's jugular vein. You should understand the historic reality and tell New Delhi that there is no substitute to plebiscite," said the legislator who had triggered a major controversy last year during the beef row by hosting a beef party at the MLAs' Hostel here.
Even as members of BJP and Congress protested against his comments, Rasheed said he was not against India's sovereignty but "I am talking simply about J&K which has become a bone of contention between India and Pakistan and Assembly has no authority to overrule UN Resolutions."
He said, "New Delhi has been claiming all the way that people in this side of Kashmir have cast their votes in huge numbers and people living in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) are not comfortable with Pakistan. So there is no reason why New Delhi should run away from 'plebiscite'. Maybe people on both sides of LoC (Line of Control) will vote for India and then whole J&K will become India's integral part," he added.
Reacting sharply to Rasheed's statement, BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir said, "If Rasheed believes that J&K is not an integral part of India, he should tender his resignation from the Legislative Assembly and join the separatist camp or migrate to Pakistan."
He said it was unfortunate that Rasheed, despite enjoying all the privileges and drawing hefty salary as MLA, is questioning "J&K's merger with India".
In a statement, Jehangir said, "Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India and the people who challenge J&K's accession with India are welcome to migrate to Pakistan."