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Basic development deficit in J&K can be addressed by empowering DDCs: Omar

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Says he doesn’t see J&K assembly elections happening this year

Srinagar: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday said there was grassroots-level development deficit in Jammu and Kashmir which could be addressed by empowering the District Development Councils in true sense.

He was in Noorabad area to pay homage to party leader and former speaker Wali Mohammad Itoo on his 27th death anniversary.

“Today, we do not see any development at the grassroot level. The development and democracy at this level can be achieved by empowering the DDCs in true sense,” Abdullah told reporters in Kulgam district after the function.

Abdullah also said that he doesn’t see Assembly elections taking place in the union territory in 2021 in view of the Delimitation Commission getting a one year extension.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of a party function, Omar Abdullah said that his priority was not elections but to strengthen the party at the grassroots level.

“I don’t see Assembly elections taking place in 2021. The Delimitation Commission has been given one year’s extension and who knows it may be given more extension,” news agency KNO quoted Omar saying in reply to a question about the timing of Assembly elections in J&K union territory after abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.

Over a query whether he is satisfied with the decentralization of powers through maiden District Development Councils (DDCs), Omar said, “As of now, I don’t see any development taking place”.

“There was 90 percent voting during NC’s tenure when Panchayat polls were held. DDC members shouldn’t be used as photo-opportunity and as a diplomatic tool. These elections were held to strengthen the grassroots level. Government must distribute powers and responsibilities to DDC members so that democracy flourishes,” he said.

With regard to the recent commitment of Indo-Pak DGMOs towards following the ceasefire pact of 2003, Omar said that he and his party have always welcomed such steps.

“We hope this step will bring the two countries closer so that they talk freely in a peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

On the demands emerging from Ladakh seeking special residency laws like permanent resident certificates, the former chief minister said the National Conference leadership has always told the people of Ladakh that their future was safer with Jammu and Kashmir.

“Unfortunately, the apprehensions are coming true now,” he added.

On the national political scenario, Abdullah said the country belongs to 130 crore Indians and the person leading the country will have to go by the wishes and aspirations of the people.

“This country does not belong to one person. India belongs to all 130 crore people,” he added.

On the petition filed before Supreme Court challenging some verses of Holy Qur’an, Abdullah said the person who did it was from among the Muslims.

“The Constitution of the country does not allow such things or other acts (of blasphemy). These acts are illegal,” he added.

Earlier, in a tweet Omar Abdullah also advocated giving coronavirus vaccine to all age groups to reduce its waste.

The remarks after the Centre had said on Wednesday that the average wastage of the vaccine was 6.5 percent, with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recording 17.6 and 11.6 percent wastage respectively.

“What a shame that while so many of us are waiting patiently for our turn to get a COVID vaccine the government admits that 6.5% of the vaccine doses are being wasted,” Omar tweeted on Wednesday night. “If vaccines are allowed for all age groups this wastage can be brought down drastically.”

According to the government policy, people over the age of 65 years and those over 45 years with comorbidities are currently eligible to receive the vaccine shots.

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