Yechury, Panda to lock horns on Kashmir in Oxford

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and BJP Vice President Jay Panda will lock horns in the prestigious Oxford Union debate on Wednesday on the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a day before the state will be bifurcated into two union territories.

The two leaders will put their divergent arguments on 'The Crisis In Kashmir:  Should Special Status Have Been Revoked' with Panda supporting the government's move while Yechury will explain why the move is wrong.

The Oxford Union has hosted a number of leaders and its debates are a huge hit. Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Salman Khurshid, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, economist Gurcharan Das and actor Anupam Kher were hosted by the Oxford Union in debates and other programmes in the recent past.

According to the Oxford Union, the Indian government's “decision to revoke the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir...and to split the state, which is majority Muslim, into two union territories sparked international outcry and caused protests to erupt” across the region.

“Yet while some have derided the move as unconstitutional, undemocratic, and irresponsible, many in India have defended the action, arguing that it strengthens the economy and security of the state, and that special status was only ever meant to be temporary. Was this action, then, simply a misunderstood step towards greater national unity and prosperity, or an alarming act of authoritarian over-reach?” the Union said in its website, explaining the rationale behind choosing the subject.

While the BJP has gone to the town describing the move as full integration of the state with the union of India, parties like CPI(M) have opposed it saying Article 370 was the instrument that helped the accession of Jammu and Kashmir into India. The Opposition had questioned the continuing lockdown of Kashmir and denial of permission to leaders to visit the state since August 5 when the government scrapped the special status. 

Yechury was twice denied permission to visit Jammu and Kashmir but he managed later after the Supreme Court allowed him to visit his ailing party leader Yousuf Tarigami while hearing a habeas corpus petition.

Government's actions on Kashmir have invited criticism from several quarters, the latest being the permission given to MPs from European Parliament to visit Kashmir on Tuesday. 

Reacting to this, Yechury tweeted, "then why were Indian political party leaders and MPs repeatedly prevented from exiting Srinagar airport? I was allowed to enter Srinagar only when the Supreme Court permitted over my habeas corpus petition. Even today Indian MPs are not allowed while Modi welcomes MEPs (Members of European Parliament)!" 

"This unofficial group is overwhelmingly from ultra-right-wing pro-fascist parties having relations with BJP. This explains why our MPs aren’t allowed but Modi welcomes them. 3 ex-CMs and 1000s others are jailed & this group of MEPs is preferred over Indian political parties?" Yechury said in another tweet.

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