Kamal Haasan calls for plebiscite in J&K, stokes row

Tamil film icon and newbie politician Kamal Haasan was at the centre of a raging row on Monday after he sought to know why India was “scared” to hold a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley and termed terrorists as “jihadi fighters”. PTI file photo

Tamil film icon and newbie politician Kamal Haasan was at the centre of a raging row on Monday after he sought to know why India was “scared” to hold a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley and termed terrorists as “jihadi fighters”.  
 
Talking at length about Kashmir and problems plaguing the picturesque valley, Kamal Haasan appealed to people to refrain from “behaving like Pakistanis” if “we need to prove that Indians are far better.” The actor’s comments came during his interaction at a reputed school in Chennai on Sunday when he was asked about the recent terrorist attack in Pulwama that killed 49 CRPF personnel.
 
However, the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) said on Monday that the actor’s comments have been “completely twisted” and that the party firmly believes that entire Kashmir is an integral part of India.

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The actor, who has a penchant for stoking controversies, went philosophical while talking about war and asked what has the human civilisation learnt in the past 10,000 years. “I don’t believe that army personnel join (force) to die. I think the army itself is an old-fashioned thing. I think we should one day decide not to kill each other (in war) like we decided not to kill and eat each other during the early days of civilisation,” the actor said.
 
If two political parties -- the ruling and the Opposition – “behave well”, the line of control will be under control. “You have been tampering constantly and you want to know what is Centrism? It is nothing but dragging to the right a bit and then to the left a bit,” he said.
 
While talking about an article he wrote some decades back for a magazine ‘Maiyam’ run by him then, Kamal Haasan said he had then questioned why the people of Kashmir were not taken into confidence and why no plebiscite was held.
 
“Why have they not conducted a plebiscite. What are they scared of? They want to divide the nation. Why don't you ask them (Kashmiris) again? They won't do it because now it (Kashmir) belongs to India and the same situation prevails there as well (PoK),” Kamal Haasan said.
 
The actor also condemned as “foolishness” installing pictures of “Azad Kashmir jihadi fighters” on trains in Pakistan. “That is foolishness. India is a far better country and we need to prove that. There begins the new political culture,” he said.
 
In the statement issued on Monday, MNM said the references were mentioned by Kamal Haasan in the context of a magazine article published three decades ago about an option that was available at one point in time of history.
 
“This no longer relevant and is in no way an indication of his position or party’s position today. We firmly believe that entire Kashmir is an integral part of India and we stand firmly with our armed forces, para-military and central police forces who defend it selflessly,” the statement said.
 
The statement also said Kamal Haasan had spoken to K Vijay Kumar, advisor to J&K Governor, and also bereaved parents of martyrs from Tamil Nadu after the Pulwama attack.

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Kamal Haasan calls for plebiscite in J&K, stokes row

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