SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah asserted on Sunday that the people of J&K should have the primary claim over their natural resources, particularly highlighting the issue of mining contracts being awarded to outsiders. Abdullah emphasised that this practice is depriving locals of job opportunities and putting them at a significant disadvantage.
Speaking at a workers’ convention in Udhampur organised by senior party leader Abdul Ghani Malik, Abdullah stated, “Democracy ends where J&K begins.” He expressed disappointment over the absence of elections in the region and criticised the central government for not allowing democratic processes to unfold in Jammu and Kashmir.
Taking a dig at the central government’s stance on Article 370, Abdullah questioned the benefits accrued from its revocation for the people of J&K. He highlighted the positive aspects of Article 370, such as land rights and the right to free education, and argued that its abrogation has not brought any tangible benefits to the region. Abdullah criticised the government for misleading the public on this matter.
Addressing the issue of unemployment, Abdullah pointed out that the government’s attention to job creation has been lacking. He lamented the halt in recruitment processes and the discontinuation of stipends for unemployed youth. Abdullah highlighted the disparity in the distribution of contracts, with most going to outsiders rather than benefiting local contractors.
Citing the discovery of lithium in the mountains of Reasi, Abdullah questioned the fairness of bringing in companies from outside to extract it. He suggested establishing a battery factory locally to maximize the benefits for the people in the region. Abdullah accused the government of having ulterior motives, aiming to extract resources from Jammu and Kashmir without adequately involving or benefiting the local population.
Abdullah also criticized the government’s management of electricity and other basic facilities, pointing out the stalled progress on power projects and the inadequate supply of electricity. He questioned the effectiveness of initiatives like changing the name of the Public Health Engineering department to Jal Shakti, highlighting allegations of corruption within the department.