Uddhav welcomes Article 370 verdict; says what about ‘guarantee’ for return of Kashmiri Pandits

Nagpur, Dec 11 (PTI) Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court ruling on Article 370 and wondered whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would “guarantee” the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits to their erstwhile home state.

He demanded that elections be held soon in Jammu and Kashmir as directed by the apex court.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Centre’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 bestowing special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and directed restoration of statehood “at the earliest” as well as elections to the assembly by September 30 next year.

“We welcome the verdict of the Supreme Court. We had supported the move when Article 370 was scrapped. We also welcome the SC’s directives to conduct elections by next September. We hope that elections are held soon and people get to vote in a free atmosphere,” Thackeray told reporters on the premises of Vidhan Bhavan here.

The winter session of the Maharashtra legislature is currently underway in Nagpur, the second capital of the state.

“We also hope POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) is merged into Kashmir so that elections are held in greater Kashmir which is an inseparable part of our country,” Thackeray said.

Queried on the status of Kashmir Pandits, he said, “The word guarantee has become famous. We want to know who will give the guarantee that Kashmiri Pandits will return home now and exercise their right to vote. Will PM Modi give us the guarantee that Kashmiri Pandits will return to their home state safely?”