‘Let’s make earnest plea to President, PM, Parliament’
JAMMU, Oct 30: National Conference Provincial President Devender Singh Rana today gave a clarion call and appealed to the Jammu based political class, civil society, prominent citizens, academia, legal fraternity, intellectuals, media, trade, commerce and industry to make a joint appeal to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and above all to the Parliament, the highest temple of Indian democracy, for retention of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, a proud legacy bequeathed by the Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh Ji.
“Let’s all rise above political affiliations and party ideologies and give vent to the legitimate aspirations of people before the country’s leadership as a single entity in the larger interest of Jammu, which is psychologically feeling a sense of loss on the impending downgrading of the State as a Union Territory”, Rana said while addressing a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here this morning.
He was flanked by senior leaders Surjeet Singh Slathia, Javed Rana, Rattan Lal Gupta and Th Rachpal Singh, among others.
Urging political class of Jammu, including the BJP, the Congress, the JKNPP and the CPI, to rise to the occasion and make a strong pitch for retention of the Statehood, a historical feat achieved by the visionary Maharaja Gulab Singhji two centuries ago after enormous sacrifices, he said the history stands testimony to the great role played by Jammu for retaining pristine glory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir during most testing times, especially in early nineties by embracing the people in distress from the Kashmir valley and parts of the Doda region, irrespective of religion. It is because of these sacrifices and selfless contribution of Dogras, J&K has all along shined as jewel in the crown of India, he maintained.
“Today, when Jammu is at the crossroads of its history, we invoke the conscience of our Parliament and the political leadership to revisit the decision”, the Provincial President said, adding that mere thought of being known as residents of the Union Territory is depressing. He said the people of Jammu have shown their resentment to downgrading of Statehood in the recently held elections to Block Development Councils.
He acknowledged that the demands for Union Territory to Ladakh Region and separate Statehood to the Jammu Region were being raised from time to time but reducing the bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory was beyond anybody’s imagination and comprehension. At the same time, he also referred to the unequivocal commitment of National Conference towards single entity of Jammu and Kashmir State and equal opportunities of progress, development and employment to all in all the regions of the state.
To a question, Rana said Jammu and Kashmir was, is and shall remain integral part of India. He said this formed the preamble of the Constitution of the State.
Replying to another question on abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A, Rana said the call on these measures and the future roadmap of National Conference will be drawn by the Working Committee after the party President Dr Farooq Abdullah and Vice President Omar Abdullah are released from detention. He said he, or for that matter anybody else, was not accredited to comment on this subject.
When asked about the killing of five West Bengal labourers in Kulgam district of Kashmir last evening, Rana strongly condemned terrorism and said that this scourge has to be defeated and uprooted by the people unitedly. He said terrorism has no place in a civilized society. While terrorist has no religion, he must be treated as a terrorist, he added.
The Provincial President also made a mention of problems faced to the people in Jammu and referred to the brewing resentment against Sarore Toll Plaza. He sought its immediate abolition and said that levying taxes on road users besides transporters will be detrimental to the interests of trade, commerce and industry. He said the pilgrim tourism will receive huge dent due to such authoritarian decision. He also made a strong appeal for restoration of internet service in Jammu region.