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Where is change in J&K after abrogation of Article 370: Omar Abdullah

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Srinagar: National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Monday said the change in Jammu and Kashmir as “touted” by the government after the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status in August 2019 was “not visible” and the entire region remained on the “edge”.

Addressing a workers convention at TRC ground in the north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, the former chief minister also said people in J&K were in “trouble” and “desperate” for good governance.

“The touted change is not visible on ground in J&K. The entire region continues to remain on edge. Ever increasing gap between administration and people is the only discernible change on ground,” he said.

Bureaucracy, on the other hand, is busy changing stripes amongst themselves leaving people to fend for themselves, he further said.

The development was only visible on social media hashtags and “sponsored news”, Abdullah said.

“Our state was split, our constitution discarded, our legislative council was abolished. The J&K cadre of all-India services’ officers was disbanded and merged with the AGMUT cadre. All this was done citing that Article 370 is the root cause of all evils plaguing the state.

“The constitutional guarantees were eroded and its abrogation was made a perfect pretext for rescinding our constitutional status. All we are asking is that where is the much touted change?” he said.

The NC leader asked where is the era of development, investment, job extravaganza and inclusion that the people were promised beckons us.

“A new dawn is arising, we were told. Where is it?… It was said that whenever accountability was sought local politicians took shelter behind Article 370,” he said.

Abdullah said people in J&K were in “trouble” and desperate for good governance.

“Bureaucracy is out of touch with people. Civil administration has taken a direct hit as a consequence of a new undemocratic project that is in place in Jammu and Kashmir. A change in the composition of the civil services after disbanding J&K cadre has only deepened the administrative inertia in the region.

“The parachuted bureaucrats are at loss to understand the issues of the local populace. The incumbent unrelated administration has also failed to forge informal relationships with the people,” he said.

He said the government has “also lost sight of the predicaments suffered” by the elected Panchs, Sarpanchs, and DDCs.

“Airdropped bureaucracy is treating these elected representatives as having no value. There is growing anxiety among such grassroots level elected representatives across Jammu and Kashmir. There is a groundswell of anger and despair found in such representatives. Most of them have been confined to hotel rooms,” he said.

Referring to the criticism by certain quarters that the NC was part of the BJP-led government at the Centre headed by A B Vajpayee, he said his party was a constituent of the NDA headed by the person who extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan from Srinagar.

“There is no denying it. I was a minister in the NDA led by Vajpayee who opened trade and bus service with Pakistan. I worked with a PM, who started the Lahore bus service. I worked with a PM, who sought to approach the issues playing J&K within the framework of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, and Jamhooriyat,” he said.

The NC vice-president, however, said the same cannot be said for those who are pointing fingers at his party.

“There is no comparison between the then NDA led by late Vajpayee and the present BJP. Vajpayee was the first to weave the twin threads of India-Pakistan relations and Kashmir outreach into a single tapestry. He continued holding an olive branch on the reef of thorns.

“In him, Kashmir had a pair of ears that heard their tribulations, predicaments, ears that heard voices of reason and was aware of the historicity of Kashmir’s unique identity. Can this be said for the present BJP? Is there any comparison? I don’t think so,” Abdullah said. (With PTI inputs)

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