“The government is determined to give full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir at appropriate time,” said Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday in the Lok Sabha.
Amit Shah, while “requesting” the political parties and their leaders to understand the situation of the erstwhile state which was bifurcated into two Union Territories,- J&k with a legislative and Ladakh without one, asserted that “it will happen”.
“Jammu and Kashmir will be given statehood at an appropriate time…Please understand the situation of the Union Territory and avoid to give any speech that misguides the people of J&K,” Shah said while speaking in the Lok Sabha.
Delivering a speech to support the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to replace an ordinance to merge the Jammu and Kashmir cadre of civil services officers with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre, Shah clarified that the Bill has nothing to do with the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We will give statehood. I have already said that it is a temporary system.”
On the opposition’s question about what happened in 17 months in J&K after the withdrawal of Article 370, the Minister questioned: “what about your 70 years rule if your are asking about our work?.”
“They should first think about themselves before asking me this question.”
The government had established Panchayati Raj in the Union Territory with 51.7 per cent voting without firing any single bullet, Shah said while giving an account of the Central government’s work in Jammu and Kashmir. He later listed steps taken so far for the welfare of people in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah said, “Jammu and Kashmir is in our hearts.”
On a question about the Supreme Court’s opinion on holding a hearing on the repeal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, after which the region was bifurcated into two UTs, Shah said: “We are ready with our logic behind our step… but where is the Congress?”
“It doesn’t mean that we will not do anything for the welfare of Jammu and Kashmir until the Supreme Court starts its hearing on the matter. What kind of argument is it?”
About the restriction on 2G and 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said, “This is not the time of the UPA, this is the Modi government. The restriction on 2G and 4G was to avoid the spread of rumours.”
Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said the government was working to take Jammu and Kashmir on the path to development while introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
He said around 170 central laws are being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave a special status to the erstwhile state.
Raising objections to the bill, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked, “What was the need to bring an ordinance for this? Regularly promulgating ordinances is not good for parliamentary democracy as an ordinance should be preceded by an emergency situation or any urgency.”
“Our point of contention is loud and clear,” Chowdhury said, adding after abrogating Article 370, the government showed a “dream” to the people that they would turn Jammu and Kashmir into heaven and create jobs there. “Introduction of this bill reflects that the government took the step of abrogating Article 370 without any preparation,” Chowdhury alleged.
Chowdhury said that Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive state and the cadre should be local and officers having ground knowledge should be appointed there. He alleged that militancy is still prevalent in the union territory and people are living in an atmosphere of fear.
“There is unemployment, restriction, lost avenues and total confusion,” Chowdhury said adding that the government had tried to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a large prison by blocking telecommunication services and failed to normalise the situation there.
He further said the government had promised to bring back Kashmiri Pandits to the Kashmir Valley but has failed to ensure their return. “Please think for Jammu and Kashmir with new ideas and do not take ad-hoc measures,” he said, adding the government should make Jammu and Kashmir a state and create a cadre to appoint officers there.
Speaking against the bill, J&KNC leader Hasnain Masoodi said this bill is akin to an assault on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “You are continuously increasing confusion…What is the objective of this bill? You are taking Jammu and Kashmir towards uncertainty through this bill,” he said adding appointed officers should have connect with the ground realities.
He added that the government should restore the position of Jammu and Kashmir to that prior to August 5, 2019.
(With IANS inputs)