Kashmiri Pandit Body Demands Restoration Of Article 370, Statehood

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SRINAGAR: An organisation of migrant Kashmiri Pandits Reconciliation, Relief and Rehabilitation has asked the government of India to restore the statehood and special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

The Reconciliation, Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrant Kashmiri Pandits in a statement said that the Indian constitution ensures the right to equality that extends to individuals, communities, religions, regions and all social and political institutions.

“The right to equality does not only ensure non-discrimination on basis of the religion, caste, region or any other social and political sub- categories,”s aid Satish Mahaldar, chairman of migrant Kashmiri Pandits’ organisation called Reconciliation, Relief, and Rehabilitation in a statement on Monday.

“Never before a state has been downgraded. This is not done in a democracy. One can’t have a military solution to a political situation and can’t go to war with their own people. Prime minister, Home minister, parliamentarians, the people of Jammu & Kashmir are your own people, love them and as a good gesture confer special status to Jammu & Kashmir. The representatives/parliamentarians are for the people, by the people and they need to understand the aspiration and the wishes of the people,” he said.

“The special provisions should be to safeguard the interest and aspirations of the backward regions, to protect cultural and economic interests of the people, safeguarding the minorities and to deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts of the state,” he added.

“It is not that J&K was the only state with special status. Other states too enjoy special category status. These are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.  A wide range of provisions are available to these 10 states that have been listed under Articles 371, 371-A to 371-H, and 371. Similarly, a special category status should be granted to J&K immediately on the basis of:

  • A sizeable share of tribal population
  • strategic international borders
  • Economic and infrastructural backwardness
  • Non-viable nature of state finances
  • To deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts of j&K state
  • discriminated minorities in Kashmir.
  • Confer J&K with special category status with the following features:
  1. The central government should bear 90 percent of the state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while the rest 10 percent should be given as loan to the state at zero percent rate of interest.
  2. J&L should get Preferential treatment in getting central funds.
  3. Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state.
  4. 30 percent of the Centre’s gross budget should be also given to J&K as conferred to other states
  5. The state should avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.
  6. J&K state with special category status should be exempted from customs duty, corporate tax, income tax and other taxes to attract investment.
  7. J&K state should also have the facility that if they have unspent money in a financial year; it does not lapse and gets carried forward for the next financial year

8 Special status should be conferred to Kashmiri Pandits. Since they are a cultural and religious minority within the state, the special status should be enacted within the provision of the constitution. It is the responsibility of the state and the central government to protect the ancient culture and a particular race.”

No one can ignore the demand for statehood and special status to J&K. The concept of a special category state was first introduced in 1969 when the 5th Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks.

The statement added that less than before current financial year budget a total sum of Rs 30,757 crore has been allocated to J&K, and Ladakh gets Rs 5,958 crores. The allocation was less than the previous year’s when J&K was a State and was entitled to devolution in the form of grants and a share of Central taxes.

“According to the 2018-19 Budget of the erstwhile State of J&K, it received Rs 47,314 crore revenue from the Centre. Around 70% of J&K’s revenue was borne by Central transfers,” it said.

“Jammu and Kashmir can have a faster growth rate than most other states. However, the poverty and unemployment level is still high here. Since last year, the industrial policy has not been formulated, no intuitive has been taken to accelerate the growth of the state. On the contrary on 14th January 2020, the LG secretariat issued orders to close existing five PSUs, thus putting a brake on the growth engine of the state and rendering thousands jobless,” said the statement.

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