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On Friday, Mehbooba Mufti, the ex-chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said that there was a need to replace the concept of Azad Kashmir within the framework of Indian Constitution. Addressing a gathering at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in Mumbai on the topic, ‘Kashmir – the way forward’, Mehbooba said that the country cannot go back to 1947 and that it is better to replace our idea under Indian constitution.

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Mehbooba further said that peace was the only way for better governance and that Kashmiris were suffering from 1947. “Every day, we witness civilian killings. When would it stop?,” asked Mufti. Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government, she also said that there was “total distrust and disconnect” between the people of Kashmir and New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Mehbooba praised the former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and said that the people loved him as a leader. She said that his tenure resulted in creating a diplomacy track between two countries. “The period between 2002 and 2005 when my father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was the chief minister was the golden period of Kashmir “because for the first time the chief minister of J&K and Prime Minister of India were on the same page,” Mehbooba added. “After the death of my father, joining BJP was suicidal for our party. We put everything on the line because we hoped that Modi will pick up from where Vajpayee left. Unfortunately, Modi could not rise to the occasion,” she said in her address.

Mehbooba also said that SAARC countries were being held hostage to the animosity between India and Pakistan and added that need all SAARC countries should come together to adopt the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a model of cooperation.

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