J&K’s development Modi govt’s top priority: Amit Shah
Says J&K will get statehood at an appropriate time
New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah asserted in the Lok Sabha on Saturday that the Modi government has done more for Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was scrapped in August 2019 than those who ruled it for generations, as he reeled out statistics to assert that its development has been the government’s top priority.
Replying to a discussion on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, he also slammed some opposition members for their claim that the proposed law negates the hopes of the region getting back its erstwhile statehood, saying that statehood will be restored at an appropriate time.
“This legislation has nothing to do with statehood, and Jammu and Kashmir will be accorded the status at an appropriate time,” Shah said.
Asserting that “it will happen”, the Minister also requested the political parties and leaders to understand the situation of the erstwhile state which was bifurcated into two Union Territories– J&K with a legislature and Ladakh without one.
“Jammu and Kashmir will be given statehood at an appropriate time…Please understand the situation of the Union Territory and avoid giving 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, the Minister 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 withdrawal of Article 370, the Minister questioned “what about your 70 years rule, if you are asking about our work?”
“They should first think about themselves before asking me this question,” Shah said.
Giving account of the Central government’s work in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said it had established Panchayati Raj in the Union Territory with 51.7 percent voting without firing any single bullet. He later listed steps taken so far for the welfare of people in Jammu and Kashmir.
Decentralisation and devolution of power have taken place in the union territory following the revocation of Article 370, Shah said, noting that Panchayats have been given administrative and financial powers for local development, something they lacked earlier.
Now people chosen by the masses will rule Jammu and Kashmir, not those born to “kings and queens”, he said, attacking dynastic parties in the region.
“Even our rivals could not allege any wrongdoing in these polls which were conducted fairly and peacefully,” he said.
Work on two AIIMS in the region has begun, and the Kashmir Valley will be connected to the railways by 2022, the Union Home Minister said.
The Minister further said: “Jammu and Kashmir is in our hearts.”
He also gave the assurance to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that “no one will lose their land”. The government has sufficient land for development works, Shah said.
Shah also said the government expects that around 25,000 government jobs will be created in Jammu and Kashmir by 2022.
On a question about the Supreme Court’s opinion on holding a hearing on repeal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on August 05, 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 restrictions on 2G and 4G Internet 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 spread of rumours.”
Earlier, introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said the government was working to take Jammu and Kashmir on the path to development.
He said around 170 central laws are being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir after 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 a 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.
The Congress leader said 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.
“The government had tried to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a large prison,” Chowdhury said, adding they blocked telecommunication services and failed to normalize the situation there. “There is unemployment, restriction, lost avenues and total confusion,” Chowdhury added.
He further said the government had promised to bring back Kashmiri Pandits to the 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, National Conference 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 connected with the ground realities.
He added that the government should restore the position of Jammu and Kashmir to that prior to August 05, 2019.
Replying to AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, Shah said 4G services are resumed not under pressure of any foreign government. “This is Modi’s government and in this, the country’s government and Parliament takes decision for its people,” he added.
Criticising Owaisi, he said the AIMIM leader was creating a divide between Hindu and Muslim officers.
Citing certain developmental projects, he said by 2022 we will be providing rail connectivity to Kashmir Valley.
Since the imposition of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has almost completed the work of giving electricity to every house.
Shah said the government has changed the land laws to facilitate setting up of industry. “We are providing Rs 13,000 per month cash assistance to those 44,000 displaced Kashmiri families who have ‘Rahat Cards’,” he said adding they were displaced because Congress had failed to provide them security.
“We should not do politics on Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. There are several issues over which politics can be done. These are sensitive places and people have suffered a lot. We need to assuage their feelings,” he observed.
Participaing in the discussion earlier, Owaisi said the bill will further alienate the Muslims and Kashmir. He also sought to know about the number of youths from the Valley arrested under the Public Security Act (PSA).
Manish Tewari (Cong) said when the government says the statehood will be restored, the bill to merge the J&K cadre with AGMUT is a contrary step.
Shah explained that states such as Mizoram, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh are part of the cadre and the suggestion is unfounded.