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'It's a Gimmick to Boost Book Sales': Cong Disowns Saifuddin Soz's Remark on ‘Kashmir Independence’

Congress veteran Saifuddin Soz has triggered a political storm with his statement that former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf was right in claiming that “Kashmiris want independence”.

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Updated:June 22, 2018, 5:29 PM IST
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'It's a Gimmick to Boost Book Sales': Cong Disowns Saifuddin Soz's Remark on ‘Kashmir Independence’
File photo of Congress leader Saifuddin Soz.
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New Delhi: A red-faced Congress on Friday distanced itself from remarks on ‘Kashmir independence’ made by its veteran leader and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz, calling it a “political gimmick” to boost the sales of his upcoming book.

Soz has triggered a political storm with his statement that former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf was right in claiming that “Kashmiris want independence”. “Musharraf said Kashmiris don't want to merge with Pakistan, their first choice is independence. The statement was true then and remains true now also. I say the same but I know that it is not possible,” news agency ANI quoted Soz as saying.



Soz has made similar controversial claims in his book Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle, which will be released next week. According to a report in The Indian Express, Soz says in the book that the Centre should initiate dialogue with the Hurriyat.

“And, if the Union of India has to talk to the people of Kashmir, it will have to decide the grouping with which it will initiate the dialogue. In my opinion, it is the political conglomerate called the Hurriyat. Then, the ball will certainly move to what is broadly known as the ‘mainstream’,” the Congress leader has reportedly said in the book.

“Musharraf had explained that if Kashmiris were given a chance to exercise their free will, they would prefer to be independent. In fact, this assessment of Musharraf seems to be correct even today!”

Disowning the remarks, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party would take action against Soz. “We completely reject Soz’s statement. It’s a political gimmick to sell his book. Our J&K unit will take appropriate action against him,” Surjewala said.

The BJP, however, said the Congress cannot distance itself from the remarks made by its former Union minister.

“Saifuddin Soz says Jammu and Kashmir should be made autonomous and the Congress says it has distances itself from the remarks. But that is not enough… We are all aware of the difference between Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru on Kashmir. But then, what do we say about a party whose leader stands with those who chant ‘tukde, tukde’ slogans,” senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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