Srinagar: Senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday urged Rahul Gandhi to raise the issue of J&K in Parliament so that a bill that restores the statehood and protects land and job rights of locals is passed within the remaining three days of the ongoing session.
"I request Rahul ji to raise this issue, bring a bill in Parliament in the ongoing session that will restore the statehood and protect the land and job rights. There is not much to debate, it will take just five minutes," Azad said, while addressing party workers after the inauguration of new party headquarters here on Tuesday.
Recalling the sequence of events after August 5, 2019, Azad said it was the biggest joke played on the people of J&K and democratic India.
"It was the biggest joke in democratic India that was played on J&K. The statehood was snatched and two Union territories were created. It has never happened in India, perhaps nowhere in the world. Even in Parliament's history, it has never happened," he said.
The former leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha said he and his colleagues tried to visit J&K in the aftermath of the Centre's August 5, 2019 decisions, but were stopped.
I had to approach the Supreme Court which gave limited access. I could only visit Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu," he added.
Azad expressed hope that the assurances given by the prime minister at an all-party meeting in June this year will be fulfilled.
"At the all-party meeting, the PM gave assurances. We hope that he will fulfil those assurances including the five points raised by the Congress. They should restore statehood and then hold elections," he said.
Azad said that J&K cannot be a state like Delhi where every order has to be approved by the Lieutenant Governor.
"J&K is a border state and the L-G cannot govern it. We don't want a Delhi like state where L-G has to approve every order," he said.
On the protection of land rights, Azad said it was not Article 370 that gave this provision to J&K.
"It was not a new law. It was passed by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927. North East has special provisions on land rights while the Himachal Pradesh assembly has also passed a law. Why snatch it from JK?" he asked.
The former J&K chief minister said industrial activity in the Jammu region had suffered as 65 per cent of the 13,000 industrial units had shut down in the past two-and-a-half years.
"Most of these units were manufacturing products which had a market in Kashmir," he said, referring to the economic downturn in the UT. (PTI)
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