by Saifullah Bashir
SRINAGAR: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Monday raised apprehensions about the federal government’s decision to merge J&K Civil Services Cadre with Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha during his speech as a member of the Upper House, Azad said both Home Minister and Prime Minister have promised that statehood will be restored and the status of Union Territory is temporary.
“The merging of the Civil Services cadre in this regard is irrelevant,” he said.
He said that such moves are raising doubts in the minds of people.
“Are you going to keep it a UT permanently?” he said.
He urged the government to restore statehood and conduct elections in Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible.
Recollecting the reasons cited by BJP government to abrogate Article 370, Azad compared the present situation of industries in Jammu and Kashmir to pre-August 5 situation.
“No new industry has been set up in J&K. In Jammu province, there are touching 13000 industries. Now only 5890 are working and 7107 have shut down,” Azad said.
Azad said, “There is uncertainty. Incentives have been abolished since August 2019. People have left their jobs in the industries. Where has the development taken place?”
“However, on TV there maybe but on the ground nothing is visible.”
Azad added that: “Article 370 only gave two privileges to people of Jammu and Kashmir— outsiders couldn’t buy land or work there. This was the case since Maharaja Hari Singh’s time.”
“It is because the state is mountainous. Most of the land is forest. Even I couldn’t afford to buy land there. Prices are also on the higher side in the State,” he said.
He said the 30 kilometer road stretch from Batote to Banihal is still incomplete from last 7 years.
He said there is still no train connectivity to the region. “People are facing a water crisis. Electricity tariff has gone up.”
“If elected government would have been there, there might have been some respite. The responsibility of an elected representative cannot be performed by a government officer.”
Azad said under Rehbar-e-Taleem around 3000 people were appointed.
“They are getting Rs 3000 per month even though they have Doctor of Philosophy, LLB, M.A and M.Phil degrees,” he said.
He said there is a probation period of seven years which is “ironical”.
“Nobody is there to listen to them. This is why statehood is of utmost necessity,” he said.
“You must restore statehood as soon as possible in J&K. It is a border state and our enemy is sitting on our heads from both ends- Pakistan and China. Any intelligent person can see that one can fight Pakistan and China simultaneously but one should first mend the relationship with J&K.”
On “increasing” ceasefire violations, Azad said the number of ceasefire violations have increased sharply.
Questioning Defense Minister, Raj Nath Singh, Azad said, “Why is your rule, there is a surge in ceasefire violations? When UPA was in power only 550 violations took place in 10 years.”
Azad said that only last year 5133 violations took place and in the year 2019 over 3000 violations took place.
Azad kept counting figures.
He said, “Is there a fault in our foreign policy as most of our neighbors have distanced from us?”
He said such incidents bring multiple miseries to the people of J&K.
“I want the government to give compensation to those who lost their lives, homes, livestock and crops,” Azad demanded.
“You are making Kashmir a guinea pig for experiments. There was PM, President, CM, Governor and now we only have an LG. These are all experiments,” he said.
Azad concluded his speech with an Urdu couplet, addressed to the Home Minister Amit Shah, “Ek raat sai aap nay umeedoon pe kya rakha hai, Hum ne aaj tak chiragoon ko jala rakha hai.”