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Omar questions: Where is the dawn that was promised on August 05, 2019?

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Anantnag: National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Sunday said the real purpose of August 05, 2019 decisions, continues to remain a mystery.

Addressing a party convention at Dak Bungalow, Khanabal Anantnag, he said, “Different grounds were given for undertaking these decisions across the country and worldwide. The impression given out was that the Articles 370 and 35 -A were the major stumbling block to development, achieving peace, stamping out separatism and corruption.

“All said and done, what is it that has been achieved? If truth be told, there isn’t anything,” he said.

“Much of the infrastructure, roads, hospitals, administrative headquarters, railways, the utility services and educational institutes existed before August 05, 2019. Let them show a single building, road, university, hospital that has come up post August 2019. There is nothing to show. Where is that dawn that was promised on August 05 decisions would usher in?” he said.

The former chief minister also said that the situation is no different in Jammu. “People who celebrated the August 05,2019 decisions there by bursting crackers and distributing sweets have lost their sleep, worrying over the future of their kids.”

Expressing disappointment over the “regressed situation”, Omar castigated the administration for trying to “score propaganda and public relations victories rather than focus on the ground realities.

“Now the situation is such that the militancy has returned to areas which were declared militancy-free. We removed 40 bunkers from Srinagar during our tenure, and forces imprint was also brought down in the wake of improvement in situation. But now the bunkers have returned, so has the forces imprint. Let alone repealing of AFSPA, more stringent laws like UAPA have been brought in. NIA and SIA are a few more additions to the list. Will any of these measures be taken for the return of peace? he asked.

Speaking on how the Kashmiri press was silenced after August 05,2019,  Omar said that governments before August 2019 feared the press. “Now administration has gained influence over the Kashmiri press by controlling the levers of production. Government advertisements are being withheld or released according to the content that is being published. Journalists and editors critical of the government policies face legal action, harassment and violence. Writing truth these days invites the wrath of the administration,” he said.

On issues related to self-governance, he said, “The powers of these institutions have been diluted. PRIs are being caged and not allowed to step out. I’ve been receiving calls from these Sarpanchs, Panchs, and other Block council members. They cry of step-motherly treatment. All they are asking the government is to allow them to migrate to Jammu. Most of these Councilors and Sarpanchs are independents, which puts them in a more precarious situation. Those who are associated with the ruling party or their local accomplices are being given the required permission, while the same is being denied to independent ones. How can they work in this atmosphere? At least in our times these grass-root level councilors were able to move freely.”

Omar Abdullah questioned the denial of rights of children of J&K at par with that of Ladakh and said that there are two separate sets of state-subject laws for the two union territories.

“Centre is treating the people of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir differently over protection of their land and reservation in jobs and scholarships. We were told that the aim of abrogation of Article 370 on August 05, 2019, is that there will be one order (system) across the country,” he asked.

He said that it was to fight against this divisive and discriminatory politics and for right to employment, peace and justice that NC cadre has to strengthen its rows.

He said the party is “working with a sole mission to protect and preserve the unique political, and cultural individuality of Jammu and Kashmir”.

‘Khattar’s remarks clearly targeted one religion’

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Sunday condemned Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s remarks that offering ‘Namaz’ in open spaces will not be tolerated, saying the decision was wrong and it clearly meant that one particular religion was being targeted.

He said there is total freedom to practice one’s religion in the country.

“The Haryana CM’s statement and his decision is totally wrong,” Abdullah told reporters after a party function in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

“I would have accepted it had this ban been on every religion, but by this pick and choose, it is clear that the target is one particular religion which is not allowed by the Constitution of this country,” he added.

Abdullah said “this was not the India” to which Jammu and Kashmir had acceded.

“J&K had acceded to a secular, tolerant India,” he said, adding, “this (Khattar’s) statement is highly condemnable”.

Asked whether the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — the amalgam of six mainstream political parties seeking the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which was revoked by the Centre on August 5, 2019 — was united, Abdullah said, “It was united and will continue its struggle”.

“The fight will continue. If there is a need to bring some changes in that, we will do that. There are no second thoughts that our rulers do not like the PAGD. There were attempts before as well to weaken the PAGD. One of our colleagues was separated from the PAGD on one pretext or the other,” he said, referring to Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference parting ways with the alliance earlier this year.

He, however, said the rest of the constituents of the PAGD “understand these designs” and “will not allow them to succeed”.


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