West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee attacks BJP over Kashmir bill, arrests of Mehbooba, Omar


KOLKATA: Chief Minister of India’s West Bengal state Mamata Banerjee has said that New Delhi took the decision on Article 370 without consulting other parties, adding that her Trinamool Congress will strongly oppose the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill that proposes to bifurcate the region into two union territories.

“We cannot support this bill. We cannot vote for this bill,” Banerjee told reporters, adding that “the government should have spoken to all political parties and the Kashmiris”.

“If you need to arrive at a permanent solution, then you have to talk to all stakeholders,” NDTV quoted Banerjee as saying.

Banerjee also attacked New Delhi over the arrest of Kashmiri leaders Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

“I have no information about Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti…they are not terrorists”, Banerjee said, adding that they should be released in the interest of democracy.

Banerjee’s statement comes a day after India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party through a rushed presidential order stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades. An indefinite curfew — that has entered its third day today — was imposed in occupied Kashmir and elected leaders were put under house arrest.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris, as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government, see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

Furthermore, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also president of the BJP, moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories — one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh — to be directly ruled by New Delhi.