Bhushan on Kashmir has AAP scrambling for cover - and a clarification

KejriwalPrashant Bhushan courted controversy as he batted for the lifting of AFSPA in J&K.

A day after senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan said that the people of Kashmir should have a say in the deployment of troops in the Valley, his party distanced itself from the remark, saying it did not believe in holding a referendum on security issues, and that the activist-lawyer had been quoted out of context.

In 2011, during Anna Hazare's Lokpal agitation, Bhushan had said there should be a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, and the people should be allowed to decide whether they wanted to remain in India.

Anna had described this as "not right". Bhushan now says he no longer holds that view.

On Sunday, Bhushan told Aaj Tak and Headlines Today, "People should be asked whether they want the Army to handle the internal security of Kashmir... If people... say they don't want the Army to be deployed for their security then the Army should be withdrawn from the hinterland."

On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "Deployment of Army within the country should be decided on the basis of internal security threat. There is no question of a referendum on this. We believe the sentiments of locals should be respected. Otherwise democracy will be under threat. AAP does not support referendum on such issues."

Later, party spokesman Dilip Pandey said, "There cannot be a debate on whether Kashmir is an integral part of India. It is good to talk to the people, but it cannot extend to matters of internal and external security. Troop deployment is the state's call and when security is at stake maximum forces should be deployed."

In his interview, Bhushan had also called for the lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in J&K, saying it gave the Army immunity in cases of human rights violations, and alienated the people.

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