Corruption over in J&K, more transparency: Nirmala Sitharaman


The Lok Sabha Wednesday saw a heated discussion during the debate on the budgetary provisions for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with members from both sides trading charges before disposing of financial business, The Indian Express reported.

Nirmala Sitharaman

According to a report published by the newspaper The Indian Express, as Opposition members across party lines attacked the government over the curtailment of democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman countered the offensive with her ministerial colleagues Jitendra Singh and G Kishen Reddy chipping in.

“The cash supplementary side of the grants includes additional expenditure on account of enhancement in dearness allowances, an increase in a number of pensions, etc. These are things for which we seek the permission of the House for clearing the grants,” The Indian Express quoted Sitharaman as having said. “Corruption,” she claimed, “has ended. Things have become more transparent in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.”

She criticised the Congress for having failed to resettle Kashmiri Pandits when it was in power.

Former minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant created an embarrassing situation for members of the Congress and NCP when he strongly argued in favour of the abrogation of Article 370. Hailing PM Narendra Modi for the “bold step”, he said it was the fulfillment of “the dream of Hindu hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray”. He lamented that “grief is not expressed here (in the House) when small little children pelt our jawans with stones”. “You are our ally,” he told Congress members, “but the Shiv Sena has not given up its line. Nor has Uddhav Thackerayji”. “Nobody speaks when our jawans are martyred… In Jammu and Kashmir, the Tricolor is not unfurled. It is burnt… A terrorist, if killed, is made into a hero.”

Jitendra Singh said the decision to reorganize the erstwhile state was taken after due diligence and that the results were visible within 48 hours, including the reduction in prices of commodities such as cement.

The minister argued that the current administration did not believe in offering alibi about the situation and that people had been detained for security reasons.

Singh said only over 300 people were under detention, which he said was the lowest in 30 years. He said 40,000 people have died in the last 30 years in J&K but many politicians were only worried about a few families.

Singh argued that only mobile internet was suspended in the region and that broadband was working even during the worst phase starting August 2019 till recently.

Citing data of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Congress’s Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari said there was a loss of $2.4 billion in the last seven months.

The agriculture sector alone, according to him, had lost Rs 10,000 crore during this period.

Tewari, who had initiated the discussion, said, “There is no economic progress if there is no peace. The decisions of August 5th and 6th (2019) have disrupted social amity. Open your ears and listen to the voice of Jammu and Kashmir. A serious situation is developing and the budget of Rs 1 lakh crore will not have an impact.”

Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress said the situation in J&K was “worse than an internal emergency”.

He alleged that thousands of people had been arrested in J&K under Public Safety Act and other provisions.

“The calm (in the region) is deceptive. People are angry and silent. One doesn’t know what shape it will take. People of Valley will bear the burden. There is no political activity. The Centre is happy but people are humiliated,” Roy said. “I demand an immediate release of (former CMs) Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti… I demand that a date be set for holding Assembly elections in J&K,” he said.

DMK’s A Raja said the discussion on J&K Budget in Parliament was only ceremonial and lacked its true spirit as the discussion was not being done by Kashmiris. “A state cannot be prosperous unless social harmony is maintained.”

BJP member Jagadambika Pal said Article 370 was removed to facilitate the implementation of all laws made in the Parliament, reported The Indian Express.


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