In RS Azad Seeks J&K Statehood, Assembly Polls

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Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi | File Photo

New Delhi- Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday asked the government to bring a bill in Rajya Sabha proposing restoration of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Azad said, “I appeal to you, if Jammu and Kashmir has to progress and if we have to fight our enemies at the borders, we need to take our own people into confidence and give them love.”

He said the government should “bring a bill in the House and statehood to be restored” adding that legislative assembly elections must be held after statehood is restored for Jammu and Kashmir.

“Apart from Delhi, if the world knows any state of India it is Kashmir. And it is because only of the historical background and beauty it has. Any foreign minister or the head of the state visiting India knows Kashmir and there won’t be any who don’t but the full-fledged state has been bifurcated into a Union Territory”, he said.

“I still fail to understand why the J&K state was bifurcated into two union territories even now there is no improvement in law and order as it used to be during the elected government including the militancy that was very lowest but the same stands heights now,” he added.

He said any measure that upsets the people residing in the Northeast and border areas, including Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Punjab, should not be taken.

Referring to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Azad said she taught him that “we cannot fight on multiple fronts with Pakistan and China”.

The Congress leader claimed that the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are not happy as outsiders can now buy their land and work there, unlike in the past.

“The people of Ladakh are not happy with the UT status. With the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, anyone can buy their land. Job opportunities were earlier exclusively available for J&K residents. Jammu people aren’t even happy as the maximum land will be borrowed there alone with Punjab near it”, he said.

“Earlier some advertised posts were repealed immediately after resentment in Jammu as it invited applications Pan-India. Some national-level interviewers published were also withdrawn”, he said, adding “Transporters, Shopkeepers, and Unemployed in Jammu are unhappy. No one in Ladakh, Kashmir, and Jammu are happy with the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.”

Arguing against Jammu and Kashmir being converted into a Union Territory, he also claimed that the law and order situation in Kashmir was 100 times better when it was a state as compared to now, militancy was at its lowest and development works were at their best, irrespective of whichever government was in power in the state.

“Developmental works were best during the elected local government while there is no developmental work at all and the parameters of health, education, and others is worse”, he said.

He alleged that the tourism industry in Kashmir was now finished, along with education as schools and colleges are closed for almost two years, while it also lags behind in key parameters like health.

However, Azad congratulated the Narendra Modi-led government for executing the long standing demand that panchayati raj system be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking after him, A Navaneethakrishnan of the AIADMK expressed gratitude to the prime minister for enacting the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Development Zone Act, addressing the apprehensions of farmers in the Cauvery delta.

The Act prohibits all kinds of activities that are harming agriculture in the Cauvery delta, he said, adding that as many as 15 members from both Houses are from the Cauvery delta area.

In 2019, the Centre revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. (With PTI inputs)

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