Doubting and questioning the Home Minister whether he wanted a permanent UT status for Jammu and Kashmir, Leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad on Monday urged for the restoration of its statehood saying that the development in the UT had halted, industry couldn’t enter and there was an increase in unemployment among people.
He stated some points which according to him were responsible for removing the Statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ability to buy Land
Article 370 had 2 limitations – First, no one could buy land in J&K and second, no outsider could work in the State. The land system in J&K has been since ages around 1925 specifically from the time of Maharaja Hari Singh. There was no particular reason to differentiate the people of J&K from that of other states. The only problem was that the land in J&K is mountainous. Either there are mountains or forests. If the locals don’t have enough land for them then how will the outsiders live here? Many people told me about their decision of buying lands in J&K after abolition of article 370. I asked them the price of 1 acre of land. Their answer was 30-40 lakhs. They were surprised to hear the actual cost to be around 40-50 crores. The article didn’t mean that the locals could buy however acres of land they wanted.
People have faced a lot if unemployment in the UT. According to the article 370, outsiders weren’t allowed to work in J&K. Why could anyone not work in J&K? So many employees are working in Grameen Banks. There are IAS and IPS officers who do not belong to J&K. The reason was minimum job options. If not, why would a PhD or M.Phil work for 3,000 per month? J&K is on the top of Indian Map. There are still some areas which do not have rail services. Working there is difficult for common man. After the abolition of article, there was a curfew in entire state then Covid-19 happened. Educational Institutions were shut, people lost their job. Government employment was the only option, the other option for private employment was closed. On every level, unemployment has increased in J&K.
Industries have never been successful in Kashmir due to the climatic conditions. It’s 6 months on and off there. Since last 2 years Industrial initiatives in Jammu province have been 12,997 out of which only 5,890 are still working and 7,107 have been shut. This is almost 60% of the total. No new initiatives have been taken over time. These are the same old ones whose owners are outsiders like people from Delhi, Haryana, Mumbai, etc. They all went away due to the uncertainty and the conditions in the UT after 5th August, 2019. Out of all 10 districts in Jammu Province only 3 – Kathua, Samba and Jammu have industries in them because they are attached to Punjab.
There has been no development in Jammu and Kashmir after the abolition of article 370. I won’t talk about the daily works but the condition of the roads is pathetic.
Azad focused on J&K being a border state surrounded by ‘enemy countries’ that are Pakistan and China. He said that the public and army of India should stand with people of J&K the same way they had been doing since years.
Giving an example from 1947, He said “I read a book in which it was written that, In 1947, People of Kashmir including children and women fought alone for 15-20 days until the Army reached there on 27th October. They were given special training to fight for their country with guns and I don’t think it has ever happened in India after that. The partition between India and Pakistan was based on religion differences. At that time instead of supporting Pakistan, the people of Kashmir fought against them. These are the incidents we need to remember.”
“I’m proud of my State that over the years Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and people of every religion have stayed together. Even after being a Muslim majority state, there have been years since Kashmir has had a Muslim DG or Muslim Chief Secretary. Even if the state had a Muslim CM, 70% of the officers were non-muslims. I haven’t seen any CM be it me, Mufti Mohammad Syed, Farooq Abdullah or Omar Abdullah without a Hindu Principal Secretary, Hindu Chief Secretary or Hindu DGP because no one ever had these thoughts.” He added
Azad urged the Government to stop experimenting with Jammu and Kashmir. “We’ve had Prime Minister, President, Chief Minister, Governor and now we have reached to LG. During the making of any vaccine, first it is experimented on mice the monkey and finally on humans. Here, we are the mice and we are the monkey. So, I request you to stop experimenting with people of J&K and provide us the Statehood back.”
The ex-Chief Minister said that everyone’s waiting and hoping for the restoration of Statehood for J&K since the Home Minister spoke about his decision of making J&K a state again. He also advised the Government to hold the elections in the UT only after providing its statehood back.