Release leaders, resume political activities in Kashmir: Azad

‘Jammu has also suffered heavy losses’

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Feb 4: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad today called for immediate release of all political leaders behind bars in Kashmir including three former Chief Ministers and resumption of political activities in the Valley. He claimed that it was not only the Kashmir but Jammu too has suffered because of the Central Government decision of scrapping special Constitutional provisions of the erstwhile State and its bifurcation into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh,
Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, Azad, a former Chief Minister of J&K, said the political leaders and the Governments which tackled terrorism in J&K in which 50,000 to 60,000 people became victims have been put behind bars instead of being appreciated for the work done by them.
“All such leaders should be immediately released and political activity be resumed in the Valley,” Azad said and asserted that it was not only Kashmir but Jammu region too has suffered heavy losses as industry, hotels, shops, transport and tourism have been badly hit.
He regretted that all those political leaders who had worked hard to develop Jammu and Kashmir were dubbed as thieves and put in the jails and the country was misled that all of them were responsible for the situation there.
Azad recalled that when the BJP decided to form Government in Jammu and Kashmir (with the People’s Democratic Party), he had cautioned the party not to do so but they joined the Government, failed to run it, withdrew support to the Government, then imposed the Governor rule and finally destroyed the State and took its control.
Azad said that out of 114 parameters of development, erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was above the national average on 80 parameters, then should not Gujarat, which had fared below the national average on several fronts, also be brought under President’s Rule.
“Should I not say that Gujarat is a fit case for President’s rule?” he asked as he gave a point-by-point rebuttal on the reasons cited by the Centre for abrogating Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
Blaming the Government for having “misled the nation” on Kashmir as on demonetisation and the GST system, the Congress leader said he wanted to prove on the basis of parameters that State leaders Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti should be released from detention as they were all leaders who had contributed to the state politics.
Saying that had the Government “brought constructive matters, we would have bowed before you, but you brought destruction”, Azad also warned the Government on the issue of Shaheen Bagh where citizens were on dharna since mid-January.
Asking “What is Shaheen Bagh? It is your creation”, he warned “If you continue like this, Shaheen Bagh will come up everywhere” and regretted that there had been no Government outreach to the demonstrators protesting against the imposition of the Citizenship Amendement Act and the National Population Register.
He claimed that triple talaq, Article 370 and CAA all had been brought to divert attention from lack of jobs, black money, inflation and slow growth.
The Congress leader criticised the NDA Government over promises about employment and healthcare made by the BJP and said on the counts of the economy, unemployment, education, the Government has fallen short of the promises made.
He said “In 2014, the BJP won by talking about their plans for the defence sector, but what has happened now? The defence forces need to be strengthened by more than just words.”