Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that Jammu and Kashmir, including the parts which are occupied by Pakistan, is an integral part of India. "In 1994, there was a unanimous resolution in Parliament saying that Jammu and Kashmir, inclusive of parts which are occupied by Pakistan, is an integral part of India. We have to look at ways in which integration of Jammu and Kashmir happens effectively and for that discussions are welcome."
Her remarks come after former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti on April 8 said, "If you free Jammu and Kashmir from Article 370, you will free the state from the country as well." "I have said many times that Article 370 links Jammu and Kashmir with the country. When you break this bridge, India loses its legitimacy over the state. It becomes an occupational force," added Mehbooba.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday asserted that "Kashmir is, was and will always be an integral part of India and thus it cannot have its own prime minister." In an exclusive interview with ANI, Rajnath said, "Kashmir will never be separated from India. Kashmir was, is and always will be an integral part of India. There cannot be two prime ministers in the country. It is absolutely clear in our election manifesto that if we form government Article 370, Article 35A will be removed."
(With inputs from agencies.)