Azad sets agenda of new party: restoration of Statehood; job, land security top priority

Former J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a massive public rally in Jammu on Sunday. — Excelsior/Rakesh
Former J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a massive public rally in Jammu on Sunday. — Excelsior/Rakesh

‘I have roadmap for J&K’s unemployed youth, daily wagers’

Tourism, industrial promotion, IT Parks to get spl attention

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Sept 4: Making his first public appearance in Jammu after quitting Congress Party, former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today declared the agenda of his new party being launched shortly, with restoration of Statehood to J&K and protection of jobs and lands of the local residents on top.

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Addressing a largely attended rally at Sainik Colony in Jammu today, former senior AICC leader said that he would announce the name of his new party after consultation with the people and leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, but added “it will be in neither Maulana’s Urdu nor Pandit’s Sanskrit”.
Azad, a former J&K Chief Minister was accorded a warm reception by his supporters who turned up in large numbers at the Jammu Airport and took him in the form of a procession to the rally venue in Sainik Colony area of Jammu City.
“The new party will focus on the restoration of Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, protection of land and jobs for local residents and the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in Valley,” Azad said.
“We have not yet decided the name of the new party and its flag. The name being projected by some people in social media is wrong, I am not going to issue any diktat while sitting in Delhi. The people and leaders of both Kashmir and Jammu will be taken on board to finalise the name and the flag,” Azad said, while seeking support of all sections of society for the new party.
Azad revealed that the name of the new party will be easier one to pronounce. “It will be in neither Maulana’s Urdu nor Pandit’s Sanskrit. It will be such a name which can be easy for everyone to utter,” he said and referred to first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who at the time of Independence had said the language of independent India would be Hindustani.
However, he said, the agenda of his party has been decided and asked people to support him in achieving the target to take Jammu and Kashmir to new heights of development and prosperity.
“Restoration of full statehood, right to land and employment to native domiciles, creating employment and return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits are top on the agenda,” Azad said amid thunderous applause from the crowd.
“Full Statehood means there should be a Governor and not the Lt Governor and a powerful Assembly in J&K enough to enact laws,” Azad added.
“Outsiders should not be able to buy land, either in Jammu or Kashmir, and jobs should not be given to the outsiders. How many jobs are available in Jammu and Kashmir? It is a trickle of water in a sea and if the jobs are advertised at the national level, our youth will even lose that trickle of water as well,” he observed.
Azad lauded the last Dogra ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, for his vision of introducing land and job safeguards and said, “Indian and the J&K Constitutions safeguarded this law for 72 years. So this was not unconstitutional at all.”
“From Presidents to Prime Ministers, both from Congress and other parties, accepted this Constitutional safeguard which was adopted by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and therefore, who are we to say that it is wrong,” he maintained.
He recalled that in August 2019, the Central Government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated the state into Union Territories.
Azad said the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley will also be a priority of the new party.
“Under my Chief Ministership, I requested the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and provided residential quarters to 20,000 Kashmiri Pandits at Jagti township in Jammu besides several other places.”
The process continued under the Chief Ministership of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed but “my heart pains when we see that 6,000 jobs under the PM’s special package sanctioned during my tenure are yet to be completed. I have myself advertised 3,000 such posts,” Azad added
Referring to the recent targeted killings by terrorists in the Valley, he said, “Such killings should stop forthwith and anyone willing to return should be provided security and accommodation. We do not want anyone to be forced to return to Kashmir,” he added.
Azad said his party would work to ensure honour, dignity, respect and integrity of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and start confidence-building measures.
Expressing concerns over growing unemployment, Azad said he had a plan, rather a clear roadmap for the creation of huge job opportunities for the unemployed educated youth of Jammu and Kashmir besides less educated people. “We have a treasure trove of mountains which could be tapped to generate employment by attracting tourists.
“Bangus valley in north Kashmir is equivalent to a hundred Gulmargs (the famous hill resort of Kashmir). I, as Chief Minister, started road construction work to link the Valley but unfortunately the road is still incomplete,” he said, adding Tosamaidan in Central Kashmir and waterfalls in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Kathua, Udhampur’s Dudu-Basantgarh, Gool-Gulabgarh and Rajouri-Poonch in Jammu region have the great potential to attract lakhs of tourists.
He said his party would work for equitable development of both the regions, providing homes to 2.50 lakh homeless in Jammu, development of sports infrastructure at district level, IT parks and promotion of healthcare.
Azad said Industry in Kathua and Samba is facing closure after 2019. Over 60-70 % Industries have closed down. Thousands of workers have turned jobless. There is great need to revive the ailing Jammu industry for providing much needed support, create more and more skill development institutes and trained our work force /youth, Daily wagers are protesting since long for wages and regularisation. There are no sincere efforts for their settlement. Even Rehbar e-Zarat, Rehbar-e-Khel and others are struggling for their future.
Unfortunately, after snatching of Statehood, outsiders have taken full control on miner minerals like- sand and gravel, With this the rates of sand, stones, gravel (Bajri) etc has gone sky high. Constructing a house has gone beyond the control of a middle class or lower middle class family. There is open loot. The local liquor traders have been finished and entire control of the liquor industry in J&K has gone in the hands of outsiders. The poor people connected with collecting gravel /stones from the Nallahs and earning their livelihood have lost job. The price hike has also made the life of poor people miserable. The people are unable to project their issues in the absence of a popular government.
Recalling massive development in J&K during his two and half years tenure as Chief Minister, Azad said with his triple shift work concept he delivered in the erstwhile State and the people still remember those days. Azad said he developed Asia’s largest Tulip Garden at Srinagar in just seven months and three-storey Yatri Bhawan for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims at Bhagwati Nagar at Jammu in a record three-months’ time and Hajj House at Srinagar. He also referred to creation of Super Speciality Hospitals at Srinagar and Jammu, five Medical Colleges in J&K, besides many other major projects. He said today, there are many twitter and face- book leaders, but he has worked on the ground and still connected with the grassroots level people.
It is pertinent to mention here that Azad, ended his 53 years-long association with the Congress Party on August 26, terming the party ‘comprehensively destroyed’. He also lashed out at Rahul Gandhi for “demolishing” the party’s entire consultative mechanism.
Several prominent leaders, including former Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, former Ministers and Legislators who resigned from the Congress in his support recently, joined the dais with Azad.
Prominent among them included, former Ministers RS Chib, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Peerzada Mohd Sayeed (Former PCC chief), Balwan Singh (former PCC gen secy & ex-MLA), former Ministers -Taj Mohiuddin, Majid Wani, Dr Manaohar Lal Sharma, Ch Gharu Ram; Subhash Gupta & Naresh Sharma-both ex-MLCs, Abdul Rashid Dar, Gulzar Ahmed Wani, Mohd Amin Bhat-all ex-MLAs, Vinod Mishra, Adv Maheshwar Singh, Vinod Sharma, Narinder Sharma, former PDP legislator Syed Bashir and former MLA Shoaib Nabi Lone.
Meanwhile, Azad will stay at Jammu for three days and meet people. Thereafter, he will move to Doda and Kishtwar districts and then proceed to Kashmir valley. He will stay in J&K for a week.