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When will full statehood be restored, elections be held in J&K: Cong on PM’s visit

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NEW DELHI, June 20: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress on Thursday asked the timelines for restoration of full statehood to the Union Territory and holding of assembly elections there.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramsh also asked why the BJP was scared of holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir and why has the law and order situation deteriorated under the prime minister’s watch.

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“As the ‘one-third’ Pradhan Mantri makes his maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir since the Lok Sabha elections, six questions he should answer: When will full statehood return to Jammu and Kashmir,” Ramesh asked in a post on X.

He said since 2018, the people of J&K have been denied any avenue to express their grievances and the region has become a “bureaucratic fiefdom controlled by the BJP-RSS cabal”.

“While claiming to have ended special status for J&K, the ‘one-third’ Pradhan Mantri has in fact created an extra-special situation of a new and unique political system: one where the state has been downgraded to a UT, elections have been suspended, and all norms of constitutional morality violated,” he asked.

The Congress leader recalled that in his speech in Parliament on December 11, 2023, Home Minister Amit Shah said full statehood to J&K would be restored at an “appropriate time”, but five years after being stripped of their statehood, the people of J&K still lack clarity on what the timeline for this return of statehood is.

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“Can the ‘one-third’ Pradhan Mantri give a straight answer to this key question: when will full statehood return to Jammu and Kashmir,” he asked.

The last Vidhan Sabha elections were held in 2014 and four seats in the Rajya Sabha remain vacant because of the delay in holding assembly polls, he said.

“The blame for this suspension of democracy lies entirely with the Centre. As the Chief Election Commissioner clarified in March 2024, the Pradhan Mantri’s Government failed to reconcile its own J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 with its own Delimitation Exercise, 2022 – preventing the ECI from initiating the electoral process.

“This weaponized incompetence appears to be deliberate: unable to win power through legitimate electoral means, the BJP has used this opportunity to control the levers of power for selfish gains,” he alleged.

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Ramesh said it is only the Supreme Court-imposed deadline of September 2024 that has forced the Centre to conduct the polls now.

“Can the ‘one-third’ PM explain this long delay in holding the elections? Why has he clung so desperately to power in a state where the people never chose to be led by him,” Ramesh asked.

Asking why the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has deteriorated, he said, “The one-third Pradhan Mantri claims to have curbed terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir at all his public meetings. The mood on the ground in J&K, however, is one of anxiety.

“Since January 1st 2023, 35 of our brave security personnel and eight innocent civilians have lost their lives in the Pir Panjal Range (comprising the Rajouri-Poonch area) alone, in an area where there were no major incidents of terrorism between 2007 and 2014,” he said.

The Congress Rajya Sabha MP claimed that infiltration from Pakistan is rising along the international border, and a palpable sense of insecurity prevails across J&K, “but ‘one-third’ Pradhan Mantri, who has been busy accepting congratulatory messages, including from Pakistani PM, has been conspicuously silent even amidst this surge in terrorism. Why has his Government failed to salvage the security situation in J&K? What is his vision to restore normalcy”.

Questioning why the Government has failed to support Kashmiri Pandits, Ramesh alleged the BJP has “exploited” the misery of the Kashmiri Pandits in every election campaign.

“However, ten years after coming to power, the Pradhan Mantri and the Home Minister have done absolutely nothing for the community and have not even held a meeting with the community’s representatives… Does the Pradhan Mantri view the community only as a talking point? Why has he neglected their interests over the last decade,” he asked.

Posing several questions, Ramesh also asked that if the Union Government’s actions are popular, why do the BJP and its proxies keep getting rejected by the people of J&K. He also inquired about the investment which Jammu and Kashmir has actually garnered since 2019.

“When the BJP abrogated Article 370 to much fanfare in 2019, they repeatedly argued that the actions were popular among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Pradhan Mantri refused to visit the J&K after 2019, until the Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

“The BJP refused to contest the Lok Sabha elections in the Kashmir Valley, instead implicitly supporting candidates put up by its proxies. However, all three proxies fared poorly, scoring a zero in the Lok Sabha and securing a lead only in one Vidhan Sabha segment. If the Union Government’s actions are popular, why do the BJP and its proxies keep getting rejected by the people of J&K,” he asked.

On investments, he asked about the number of jobs the Modi government has created – in the public sector or in the private sector.

“How many investors from the rest of India have actually invested in J&K since 2019? How many PSUs has the Union Government set up in J&K? Can the Prime Minister inaugurate a single facility that his Government has built in J&K,” he wrote.

The prime minister reached J&K on Thursday evening and will participate in the International Yoga Day celebrations on Friday morning. (PTI)

 

 

 

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