J&K can’t be run through remote control:  Political leaders on delay in assembly polls

Jammu: Leaders of various political parties on Saturday targeted the BJP-led central government over the delay in holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and said the union territory cannot be run through a “remote control from Delhi”. Speaking at a round-table discussion here, the leaders underlined the importance of dialogue to reach a consensus to pull Jammu and Kashmir out of the present “quagmire”.

CPI-M’s M Y Tarigami, National Conference (NC) Jammu provincial president Rattan Lal Gupta, National Panthers Party (NPP) president Harsh Dev Singh, Shiv Sena-BST’s Manish Saini, Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Varinder Singh Sonu and Awami National Conference senior vice president Muzaffar Shah were among those who took part in the discussion — ‘Jammu and Kashmir The Way Forward’. No Congress representative took part in the discussion, which was organised by the Centre for Peace and Progress. Tarigami said when the assembly polls are announced, the BJP will face the restless people of Jammu and Kashmir. He said the people have high hopes from the Supreme Court and believe that it will uphold the Constitution by providing them justice. “Dialogue is the key to reaching a consensus and working together to end political uncertainty and misgovernance so that people can get relief. The Jammu and Kashmir assembly was dissolved in (November) 2018 and fresh polls are not being conducted,” Tarigami said. On August 5, 2019, the Centre stripped the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and divided it into two union territories. Several petitions challenging the Centre’s decision have been filed in the Supreme Court. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud will conduct day-to-day hearings on the petitions from August 2. NPP’s Harsh Dev Singh said, “We are witness to a proxy rule for the last five years which needs to be put to an end. Jammu and Kashmir cannot be run through a remote control from Delhi.” NC leader Rattan Lal Gupta claimed the people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering immensely due to lack of accountability, basic facilities, inflation and growing unemployment. “The restoration of the pre-August 2019 position and a popular government is the key to the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Manish Saini of the Shiv Sena-BST said, “The BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir is directionless and all its claims post August 2019 have proved to be a hoax.” “Narco-terrorism has emerged as a major challenge with more and more youths falling prey to the menace. Kashmiri Pandits are still waiting for their return to the valley as the government has failed to create a secure atmosphere for them,” he said.

Awami National Conference’s Muzaffar Shah accused the BJP of pitting Gujjars and Bakarwals against the Pahari community by bringing a bill in Parliament to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the latter. “Reservation is the right of any deprived community but the way they are doing it is dividing people. Such decisions should be left to the assembly and the popular government,” he said. Centre for Peace and Progress chairman O P Shah said the conclusion of the discussion was that the people of Jammu and Kashmir divisions of the union territory have full faith in the Constitution. “They are talking about (the delay in assembly) elections, restoration of statehood and looking forward to the judgement of the Supreme Court (on a clutch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370),” Shah said. The speakers also questioned the developmental claims being made by the BJP. “If the present government wants to say that more development has taken place under the lieutenant governor’s rule, then it means it has no faith in democracy. Governor’s rule is temporary in nature but ultimately it is the people’s government which needs to be restored in accordance with parliamentary democracy,” he said.