Srinagar- The Centre should conclude the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir by February and hold assembly polls immediately after the winter, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday.
Addressing a workers’ meeting in Devsar area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam, about 75 kms from here, Azad also said it was not feasible to conduct polls during the next four months of winter.
The next four months are not feasible for elections and even if they (Centre) wanted, we would have said no. We all had said in the all-party meet (called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June) that the statehood be restored first and then the delimitation be taken up.
But, the government did not accept that. So, they should conclude the delimitation process till February and once the winter gets over, conduct the elections in April, he told reporters.
About the questions being raised over encounters conducted by the security forces, the Congress leader said the forces should take precautions in the civilian areas so that there are no civilian casualties.
He also appealed the politicians to visit the militancy-infested areas of the valley to encourage the people.
“There is militancy in three districts of Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama. They have witnessed militancy earlier also. This meeting was organised here after three years to encourage them, to boost their morale and so that they do not think they have no one,”
“It is important that leaders should visit the areas where there is militancy,”.
Whichever party they are, I will not go into it because the atmosphere in the state is not such that we talk against any party. I request all the political parties that rather than pointing fingers at other parties, they should try to create such an atmosphere in J-K so that people are assured that politics or elections can happen here, he said.
Azad said there is a need to create an atmosphere in the militancy-infested areas as people in such areas were worried and have become disappointed .
There is one type of disappointment here where as there is another type in Jammu, Katra or Udhampur, he said without elaborating further.
The senior Congress leader also said the Centre’s August 5, 2019 decisions to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating the erstwhile state into Union territories was something that no one would have imagined.
“A lightening struck Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Something which no one would have thought or guessed happened. Not just the people of Kashmir or Jammu or Ladakh, but no citizen of India would have thought that Jammu and Kashmir would be divided into two parts and two Union territories would be carved out of it,” Azad said.
The ex-CM said usually, a Union Territory is made into a state, but perhaps for the first time, a state was downgraded into a Union Territory.
“It was like a DGP turned into a thanedaar, a chief minister into just an MLA and a chief secretary into a patwari. No one would have thought something like this would happen. We thought no wise person would do such a thing and there was something messed up. It was untoward. I have talked a great deal about it over the last few years in Parliament,” he said.
Describing the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before August 5, 2019 as “our identity”, the former Union minister asked people to be ready for the struggle to achieve full statehood.
“The state of Jammu and Kashmir is our identity. There were some things that Jammu and Kashmir had but the other parts of the country did not have. Those were our identity. We want our identity back and you have to remain ready for the struggle to achieve that. The first bullet will hit me, followed by these 10-20 people (Congress leaders) and then you.
“Till statehood is not restored like it was till August 4, 2019 and with the same Assembly, not the Union Territory Assembly, our struggle will go on even if we have to sacrifice our lives for that, because it is our identity,” he said.
Azad said the situation in Kashmir today is like how it was 300-400 years ago.
“There is poverty, the faces of the people are like as if they are in mourning, the light in their hearts has been extinguished. There is disappointment, unemployment, several restrictions, people cannot talk and if they raise their voice, they are sent to jail. How can humans be happy in such a situation?” he asked.
The senior Congress leader said the priority was not who becomes the chief minister but how to restore the August 4, 2019 position in J-K.
The priority is not about the chief minister, it is not the issue. The priority is how to restore the August 4, 2019 position… which will happen by restoring the statehood and then having the assembly elections, he said.
Azad said the demand for the restoration of the statehood was not Kashmir-centric.
There is no fight on the statehood. Hindu brothers in Jammu, Sikhs, Muslims in Kashmir and even Pandits want statehood. No one should presume that only Kashmiris want the statehood, I have said it continuously and even in the all-party meet that even BJP leaders want statehood, he said.
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