JAMMU, Jan 24: The Upper House of the State Legislature today passed a private member’s resolution, seeking holiday on the birthday of last ruler of the J&K State, Maharaja Hari Singh.
The resolution on the subject was moved in the Legislative Council by the BJP Member Ajatshatru Singh ( Grandson of Maharaja Hari Singh). It was seconded by PDP member Surinder Choudhary and BJP member Vibodh Gupta.
The entire opposition had staged walk out from the House before this issue. Only members from the Treasury benches were present in the House. Ajatshatru Singh moved resolution stating that 23rd September, the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of the State, be declared as a State holiday as a mark of respect to him.
Singh stated that Maharaja Hari Singh was great ruler who brought many reforms and lived for the people of his State. He was a great secular ruler and people loved him so much. It will be great honour if on September 23, State holiday is declared by the Government, he said.
Many members including Vibodh Gupta, Surinder Choudhary, Vikarmaditya Singh (Grandson of Late Maharaja), Ashok Khajuria, Ramesh Arora, Surinder Mohan Ambardar, Deputy Chairman Jahangir Mir and even the Minister for Forest, Ch Lal Singh supported the resolution. Ashok Khajuria even recalled two incidents with regard to the high character and qualities of equal justice of the Late Maharaja. Ch Lal Singh recalled reforms brought by the Late Maharaja and said that this motion should get support from all.
Minister for Education Naeem Akhtar who was replying on behalf of Government recalled the contributions of Late Maharaja and said that credit to maintain identity and secular character of the State goes to Late Maharaja who brought Art 370 which kept check on the cultural erosion and identity of the people of this State.
He said whether it was matter regarding opening of temples for all, opening of courts and provision of equal justice or bringing reforms, raising institutions of learning and giving importance to Urdu language, Late Maharaja brought many reforms for his people.
He said architecture brought into J&K by the Maharaja is nowhere in the world. These rulers laid lasting impact on the history and geography of the State. Naeem said he was also of the opinion that holiday should be on his birthday and even more should be done. After discussing the issue with all the stake holders, a decision would be taken in this regard shortly. Naeem asked member to withdraw resolution.
Deputy Chairman Jahangir Mir said there should not be any problem to the Government as financial matter is not involved. He also put some weight behind the resolution. The member pressed for the passage. Then after voting, the resolution was passed in the House. Only one PDP member from Kashmir, Khursheed Alam opposed the resolution.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh today endorsed the Resolution passed by Legislative Council for declaration of holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh’s birth anniversary on September 23.
Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly after the Resolution was adopted, Dr Singh said he would take up the issue before the Cabinet for declaration of holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh’s birth anniversary.
He welcomed the Resolution passed in the Legislative Council.
Terming the return of Kashmiri migrants to valley as their “birth right”, Dr Singh said the State Government was firm on rehabilitating them.
“All the people in the House have unanimously passed the resolution and decided that these people (migrants) should be brought back to Kashmir valley and they should be rehabilitated there with honour, dignity and sense of security. Not only the Government but the whole opposition is on one page on this,” he said.
“Return of Kashmiri Migrants, including Pandits, Muslims and Sikhs is on our agenda as it is part of Agenda of Alliance. We have identified lands at 3-4 places in Kashmir (for setting up clusters). We are working on that,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.
“Kashmir is their birth right since centuries together. It is their birth right to come back and settle in Valley. They are not able to go to their ancestral places because of the security threat so the Government has made a plan to rehabilitate them in clusters and finally they shall be able to look after their properties and the left out houses,” he said.
The BJP leader ruled out that the State Government shelved the plan of setting up clusters for the migrants under the separatists pressure, but maintained that the plan could not be implemented due to Kashmir unrest.
“We did not succumb to the pressure (of separatists). On no occasion, the plan was shelved. Definitely due to turmoil (in the State) we could not implement the plan,” he said.
Hitting out at separatists for racking up the issue to polarise the situation, Singh said, “It is unfortunate that some people are communalising the issue. On one side, those people keep on harping that Kashmir is incomplete without these displaced people, but on the other hand, there are some who are opposing their return as they were the ones who made them leave in the first place.”