Weak J&K not in country’s interest: Azad

DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a public rally at Banihal on Tuesday.
DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a public rally at Banihal on Tuesday.

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Gopal Sharma
BANIHAL, Mar 21: Claiming that Jammu and Kashmir is living under the shadow of China and Pakistan, Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) chairman and former J&K Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad today strongly criticized the Central Government for ‘illegally removing’ Article 370 in 2019 and said a ‘weak Jammu and Kashmir’ is not in the interest of the nation.

Addressing a large public rally in this town in district Ramban today, Azad said he wants to see his country strong and prosper and move forward in the path of development, taking along Jammu and Kashmir. He said his party does not believe in communal and divisive politics but on inclusive development and peace in the entire country.
“I have returned to J&K as the situation became worse here after Article 370 was removed illegally and the historic and beautiful erstwhile State was bifurcated by this Government after 75 years of its accession to India, destroying our identity,” he said.
Azad further said Article 370 was meant to benefit both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir. After its abrogation, the changes in laws resulted in loss of business, contracts for minor minerals and growing unemployment besides the land being taken away from the possession of the occupants under the garb of anti-encroachment drive, Azad added.
“We are loyal to the country and want it to prosper and move forward in the path of development along J &K. If the crown (of India) is not happy or becomes weak, it is not in the interest of the nation. China on one side and Pakistan on the other, we are living under their shadow,” Azad asserted.
For prosperity and development of the country, he said, J&K needs to be made prosperous and strong with its people given all benefits available to the citizens in the rest of the country and their interests safeguarded.
However, he credited the Government for bringing down the graph of terrorism, ending the culture of strikes and stone-pelting, but criticised it for forcibly taking away land from the possession of the people and imposing taxes.
Azad said unlike other parties who try to divide people for political gains, he aims to develop Jammu and Kashmir inclusively where every person irrespective of religion, caste and creed feels politically and socially empowered.
“I had never thought that after leaving Congress, the people of Jammu and Kashmir will receive me with this kind of warmth and love,” he said.
Questioning the policies of the Central Government and the Lieutenant Governor-led administration in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said some Governments and leaders are deaf who only listen to a particular section of people and likewise some are blind who do not treat people equally.
“It will be a shame for me if any of my leader is deaf or blind. People of all religions are our own and should be heard and treated alike,” he said, lauding the party leaders for standing with the people and raising their voice during the anti-encroachment drive.
The DPAP leader said he was a Parliamentarian for 40 years and was straight forward in criticising the policies of the then governments.
“I have undertaken campaigns in support of the Congress across the country and spoken against the policies of the rivals but never targeted any leader.
“Even in Jammu and Kashmir, I have been vocal in criticising policies or failures of political parties but always respected the political opponents. I hate those who do not respect their elders,” he said, apparently targeting Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani who was once considered his close associate but became his strong critic after his exit from the grand old party.
Azad said he and his party workers are ready to give any sacrifice for the people.
“Some mindless people opened my eyes but I am telling my workers and supporters not to react or have a feeling of revenge for such persons,” he said, adding the entire Jammu and Kashmir is his constituency.
“I need leaders who treat everyone, irrespective of his religion or region, caste and creed, equally without restricting himself to his constituency and its people,” Azad said.
Azad said that after leaving Congress, more and more people are joining his new party and believe in him. “It gives me more responsibilities and challenges to meet the expectations of people. People feel dejected and disappointed with the present Governing system,” he added.
Azad said that those politicians who have no vision resort to communal and divisive politics, but he aims to build a better and progressive Jammu Kashmir where the future of youth is secure. He said if his party comes to power, he will bring the massive developmental revolution across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir besides he will continue to fight for the rights of people.
“Be it Statehood, land or jobs, I will lead my people from the front to secure their rights,” Azad maintained.
Meanwhile, talking to media-persons Azad’s son- Saddam Azad, who recently joined his father’s party said he is not interested in contesting elections to be an MP or an MLA but wants to work to make J&K a paradise in real sense.
He said leaders like his father are needed by J&K to steer the region to prosperity and development rather than those who are speaking too much and work less.
“I do not have any interest in fighting elections and becoming an MP or an MLA as I do not have any liking for these positions. I do not believe in making false promises but my desire is to work for the people of J&K and make the region a real paradise,” Saddam told reporters at the end of a public rally in Banihal.
Saddam Azad, who did not address the gathering, said he wanted to do “something solid” for J&K unlike the leaders who talk too much and work less.
“The youth of J&K is looking for a change and the next election is very important. J&K is bestowed with natural beauty but is dubbed as paradise in books only. The real paradise is where the people are happy with peace in their hearts and minds, enough employment opportunities and sources of livelihood. We all will work under the leadership of Azad to make J&K a paradise in real sense,” he said.
He said Ghulam Nabi Azad has made no big promises and he had done 10 times more than what he said about his works as Chief Minister of J&K.