NEW DELHI The Lok Sabha on Friday gave its nod for the extension of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir by six months from July 3 even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the Centre was ready to hold Assembly polls in the state as and when the Election Commission (EC) decides.
In his first speech in the 17th Lok Sabha Home Minister Shah laid out the government’s Kashmir agenda and rained fire on the Congress for the problems in the state.
Home Minister Amit Shah Friday accused the Congress of terrorism in Kashmir and responsible for the state’s current situation, alleging that former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s decisions were behind India losing one-third of its territory to Pakistan.
He was replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on the resolution to extend President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir for another six months from July 3.
Shah alleged that the policies of previous Congress governments widened the wedge between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the country.
He said his government is making efforts to bridge this gap and remove terrorism from its roots and restore democracy in the state.
The House passed by voice vote the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by previous government, extending President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir, amidst opposition from the Congress and some other parties.
The Lok Sabha also cleared the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.
He told the House that elections in the state will be held in a free, fair and democratic manner once the Election Commission announces the schedule.
Responding to a question, the Minister said assembly elections could not be held along with Lok Sabha elections in the state as large number of security personnel were required for the purpose.
Shah said Article 370 of the Constitution which extends special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is “temporary in nature” and “not permanent”.
In his maiden speech as Home Minister in the lower house, Shah launched a blistering attack on the Congress alleging that it made the maximum use of Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss elected governments in various states in the past.
“Today one-third of Kashmir is not with us. Who announced ceasefire when Pakistan encroached in Kashmir after independence and occupied one-third of its territory.
“Jawaharlal Nehru announced ceasefire and Pakistan took away that part of Kashmir,” he said alleging that Nehru did not take the then Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel into confidence.
“If he would have taken Patel into confidence before announcing ceasefire, then Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) would not have formed and terrorism would not have existed in Kashmir,” Shah said.
He said one-third of Indian territory is with Pakistan now.
The Congress members reacted sharply to this on which Shah said he would not take Nehru’s name but referred to him only as the first prime minister.
The Home Minister said the present government adopted “zero tolerance” towards terrorism and people who try to divide the country have fear in their hearts, which will increase in the coming times.
“We are not members of the ‘tukde tukde’ gang. Those who want to break India should have fear in their hearts…they should be scared and their fear will increase further in the coming times,” Shah asserted.
Continuing his tirade against the opposition party, he said so far Article 356 (President’s Rule) was imposed 132 times all over the country, of which the Congress used it 93 times to dismiss state governments.
“Some in the opposition said that through President Rule efforts are being made to throttle democracy. 132 times Article 356 has been imposed in the country, of which 93 times was by Congress. We have never used Article 356 for political gains,” he said.
The Home Minister also said the government withdrew security of 919 people in the state as there was no security threat for them.
“Earlier people who used to speak against the country were given security cover,” he said, adding whereas those who spoke for India were actually killed in the state.
Invoking Vajpayee’s philosphy of ‘Insaaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriat’, Shah, who is also the BJP chief, said during the Congress’ rule at the Centre, the rights of common man was snatched.
“They could not even go for voting (in the state) as their democratic right. It is for the first time that rights were being given to common people and 3 families are taking a backseat,” he said while also referring to the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah by the then Congress government.
Shah said this sowed “seed of distrust among people of Jammu and Kashmir that was planted by Congress”.
Suggesting that only a strong “medicine” could stop terrorism, Shah said the government at the same time does not want to create an atmosphere of fear.
“We are taking steps to remove the fear which you (Congress) have put in the minds of people,” he said, while mentioning various developmental initiatives carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in the last five years.