JAMMU – The National Conference on Wednesday made a last-minute appeal to the Centre to shelve the plan of bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into union territories and urged it to maintain the statehood of the 200-year-old state.
Two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — will come into existence on Thursday.
The NC also requested political parties, intellectuals, academicians, civil society, traders and transporters to come together and join hands with the party to make a joint request to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Parliament to retain Jammu and Kashmir as a state.
“As we are coming closer to becoming a UT, psychologically the feeling of inferiority has started gripping us. We are here to make an appeal as voices were raised from every corner that we should not make it an issue of prestige and instead work together to ensure that the 200-year-old state founded by Maharaja Gulab Singh is kept as a state,” NC provincial president Devender Singh Rana told reporters here.
“Jammu and Kashmir is crown of India and we are and will remain part of India. We are Indian and will always remain Indian. The Jammu and Kashmir Constitution also makes it clear that the state is and shall remain an integral part of India and we have no doubts about it,” he said.
He said there is a feeling among the people in Jammu region that they are being marginalised.
“The voice of Jammu need to be heard. The region has played a crucial role, especially after 1990s when Kashmir faced a difficult situation (in the wake of eruption of militancy). Jammu has always aspired for statehood, though it is a different matter whether we politically agree or disagree with the demand. It should have been honoured for maintaining brotherhood and keeping the tricolour flying high,” the NC leader said.
“I request my colleagues in the BJP, Congress, Panthers Party, CPI(M), BSP and other parties that let us come together, leaving aside our differences, and make a joint request for restoration of statehood. The intellectuals, academics, civil society, traders and transporters should also come forward and lend their support wholeheartedly,” he said.
He said the National Conference was promise bound to ensure equitable development of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.
In response to a question about the reported remarks of National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi that the relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and the country ended with the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, Rana said if Masoodi had made any comment he must have made it in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the party.
“The decision about what is to be done after abrogation of (provisions of) Article 370 cannot be taken by any individual in our party. Once the leadership comes out of detention, the working committee will sit down and decide the party’s future course of action,” he said.
Rana also demanded immediate restoration of mobile internet services in Jammu region to facilitate students and traders, and called for withdrawal of toll tax to facilitate smooth movement of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine to boost tourism in the region.
On the visit of a delegation of European Union parliamentarians to Kashmir, he said, “We do not know whether their visit is going to do any good to anybody, least the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
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