NEW DELHI: The so-called Kashmir issue is a political "myth" created by the Congress, the National Conference and other such political groups which have a vested interest in the region's electoral vote bank, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said Saturday.
He said Jammu and Kashmir is very much like any other state of the Indian union. There is no such issue as "Kashmir issue" and the political leaders who try to rake it up have a deep-rooted selfish interest in creating an issue out of a non-issue, in order to hoodwink the innocent masses of Kashmir, he said.
"The so-called Kashmir issue is a political myth created by the Congress, the National Conference and other such political groups for their vested interest," the minister told PTI.
"The biggest evidence of hypocrisy on the part of the Kashmir-centric leaders is that they underplay the fact that even though Jammu and Kashmir has a separate Constitution of its own. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir itself states that it is an integral part of India," the minister said.
Over a period of time, he said, there has been a deliberate attempt to develop a narrative based on "so-called Kashmir issue" because "it suits certain political leaders for their electoral benefits and suits some so-called intellectuals to achieve misplaced recognition as Kashmir experts".
It is an irony that National Conference patriarch Sheikh Abdullah unconditionally accepted the state as an integral part of India as long as he was in power and even approved the extension of the various provisions of Indian Constitution to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but whenever he was out of power, he would speak of plebiscite, referendum, etc, Singh said.
The same trend, he said, was carried forward by later two generations of the National Conference who "managed to seek political dividends from this stark duplicity".
However, the third generation of Kashmiris born post-1990 has outgrown this "manufactured myth".
"Particularly the aspirant youth of Kashmir sometimes seem to be taking a lead over their counterparts in the rest of the country when we see the annual results of prestigious All India Entrance Exams like Civil Services examination, IIT-JEE exam and NEET exam," the minister said.
Reiterating that if at all there is any issue pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir, it is only that of retrieving the territory of the state which continues to be under illegal occupation of Pakistan even after 70 years, Singh said.
This is not only the BJP's stand but a stand unanimously taken by all the political parties through a Parliament resolution of 1994, he added.