New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister
Omar Abdullah on Wednesda submitted the report of the Working Group,
set up for strengthening relations between the state and the
Centre, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.
The Chief Minister apprised Singh of the salient features
of fifth Working Group headed by Justice S Sagir Ahmed,
retired chief justice of J and K high Court.
The group, constituted by the Prime Minister, has
recommended autonomy for the state and said the Centre could
consider a proposal in this regard made by the ruling National
Conference. The group had submitted the report to the Chief
The report said a call needed to be taken on how long
Article 370 of the Constitution in its present form, granting
Special status for J and K, should continue to remain in
The Working Group deliberated on matters relating to the
special status of the border state within the Indian Union,
methods of strengthening democracy, secularism and the rule of
law in the state.
The question of `Autonomy` and its demand can be examined
in the light of the (1975) `Kashmir Accord` or in some other
manner or on the basis of some other formula as the present
Prime Minister may deem fit and appropriate so as to restore
the `Autonomy` to the extent possible, it said.
The National Conference is demanding autonomy for the
state, including more decentralisation of powers and more
authority to the state government. Only three departments --
Defence, External Affairs and Currency -- should remain with
India, the party says.
The party has said that the autonomy of the state, as it
existed pre-1953, should be restored.
The report by the group set up in May 2006 also termed the
"self-rule" proposal of PDP as similar to that of National
Conference in a wider context.
Basically, it appears to relate to kind of autonomy
proposed by National Conference, which requires to be
considered by the Central Government, the report said.
On Article 370, it said it is for the people of the state
to decide how long it should continue in its present form and
when to make it permanent or abrogate it. The matter being 60
years old should be settled once and for all.