Targeting the Congress and “three families which trampled development” in Jammu and Kashmir for years, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told Lok Sabha Saturday that J&K is a “sensitive part of the country” which has been “wounded many times” and it is the “duty of this House to apply balm on it, and not scratch it”.
He also said J&K will be granted statehood at an “appropriate time (upayukta samay)”.
Replying to the debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Shah said: “Many members have said that bringing this Bill means that Jammu and Kashmir will not get statehood. I am piloting the Bill, I brought it. I have clarified the intention. Nowhere is it written that statehood will not be granted. Where do you draw this (conclusion) from?”.
“I have said it before and reiterate now: this Bill has nothing to do with the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir. Upayukta samay par Jammu-Kashmir ko statehood diya jayega (Jammu and Kashmir will be granted statehood at an appropriate time),” he said.
In his hour-long speech, Shah slammed the Opposition for its “politics” on Jammu and Kashmir.
Referring the recent concluded elections to District Development Councils in J&K, he said 51.7 per cent of the votes were cast in a “very peaceful atmosphere… without any firing”.
He said those who had fought the elections on the plank of restoring Article 370 had been “wiped out” and they “don’t even have the mandate of the people of Kashmir, and have been defeated”.
“Even now I want to say that let us not make Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh part of politics. There are many other things for politics. Come to the political arena… no one is afraid. This is a sensitive part of the country. They have been wounded many times. They have doubts and misunderstandings in their mind. It is the duty of this House to apply balm, and not scratch it. We should not see Jammu and Kashmir from a petty political mindset,” he said.
“You (Opposition) have said that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister promised that full statehood will be restored. I again want to promise the people of Jammu and Kashmir that it will definitely happen. Soon after bringing on track your development, which has been stalled by three families, Jammu and Kashmir will get full statehood in due time. It has nothing to do with this Bill. The possibility of the restoration of full statehood does not end with this Bill. I want to make it clear,” he said.
Earlier, initiating the debate on the Bill, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury questioned the government on the promises it made to the people of J&K while abrogating Article 370.
“You say you will bring back Gilgit-Baltistan. That’s a matter for later. But at least bring back those who were internally displaced, those who can’t go to Kashmir Valley,” he said.
“The dreams that you had shown after the abrogation of Article 370 have not been fulfilled. J&K has not returned to normalcy. More than Rs 90,000 crore of local business is finished. We want you to tell us how you will improve things in J&K… You should at least say, ‘raat gayi to baat gayi, election gaya to vaada gaya’. You should clarify your stand,” Chowdhury said.
Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference said normalcy was still to return to the region. “There has been a rise in encounters. The move may have been aimed at development, but due to the rise in encounters in rural and urban areas, development has taken a backseat,” he said.
RSP member NK Premachandran wanted to know about the law-and-order situation in J&K. He suggested that an all-party delegation visit the Union Territory to assess the situation on the ground.
Responding to the Opposition’s charges, Shah said, “Here, it was said that what happened to the promises made at the time of abrogation of Article 370? I will definitely answer. But it has only been 17 months since 370 was abrogated. Have you come with details of what you did for 70 years?”.
He also said Kashmir will be connected by the Railways by 2022.
During the debate, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said there were only 5 Kashmiri Muslims in 24 Secretary posts in the UT. Of the 58 IAS officers, he said only 12 were Muslims.
Criticising Owaisi for viewing the bureaucracy on the basis of religion, Shah said: “You divide the bureaucracy on the basis of Hindu-Muslim. What is this concept? Can a Hindu officer not serve Muslims? Can a Muslim officer not serve Hindus… You call yourself secular and divide the number of officers on the basis of Hindu and Muslim… It will not bring peace in Kashmir. It will only aggravate distractions and doubts.”
Later, the Bill was passed by a voice vote after the House negated the statutory resolution moved by Chowdhury and amendment moved by Premachandran.
The Bill seeks to replace the Jammu and Kashmir (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 which was promulgated to merge the existing cadre of Jammu and Kashmir with Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre in relation to the All-India Services namely, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service. Rajya Sabha had already cleared the Bill.