J&K's Statehood Should Be Restored Before Holding Assembly Polls: Azad

Srinagar- Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday called for restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's statehood before assembly elections are held and batted for land and job rights for its residents.

Speaking to reporters outside the Kheer Bhawani temple complex in Tullamulla area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, Azad said Kashmiri Pandits who left the valley in early 1990s in the wake of eruption of militancy be brought back.

"The elections...should be conducted soon. But before the elections, the statehood should be restored, which is very important. Kashmiri Pandits should be brought back.

"Our land and job (rights), which were taken away after Article 370 was revoked, should be secured like they were before (August 5, 2019) through a new law when the statehood is restored, he said.

On August 5, 2019, the Centre announced abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and its bifurcation into union territories.

The former J-K chief minister visited the temple shortly after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's visit earlier in the morning. Gandhi had left for Hazratbal shrine when Azad reached Tullamulla.

"I came from Delhi today, but the flight reached late and that is why we could not meet here. But since it was in my programme, I came here and will also go to Hazratbal, he said.

Asked about the BJP's charge that the Congress party had lost its credibility, Azad said, "Everyone knows who has the credibility."

After the Kheer Bhawani visit, Azad went to Hazratbal shrine here to pay obeisance. Later, he joined Gandhi at the inauguration of Congress Bhawan at M A Road here.

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