Govt duty-bound to restore statehood to J&K: Amit Shah

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The Union Home Minister Amit Shah today said that the law and order situation in Kashmir was now “normal” and that the Central Government was duty bound to restore statehood to J&K to honour the promise that he had made on the floor of the Parliament.

“We cannot say anything about the time limit within which we will do it [restore the statehood]. But I have said on the floor of the Parliament, so has the Prime Minister, that statehood will be restored. There is no question of going back on this promise. I don’t think a lot of time will be spent on this but our priority at the moment is on fast-tracking development in the valley,” Shah said.

Amit Shah also said that although Covid-19 had slowed development work and progress in Kashmir, the arrival of the new administrative head of the UT, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, has fast-tracked development.

“I agree that a lot should have happened in Kashmir, but with the outbreak of Covid-19, the focus of the union government was on dealing with the pandemic first. I think with the arrival of Manoj Sinhaji some pending works have resumed really quickly. He is doing his best to ensure that works of development – from the distribution of Ayushman Bharat cards to the extension of piped water supply – reach ground level,” Shah said.

He added that several stalled infrastructure projects have resumed in the valley and that within the next five to six months “you will be able to see improvement in the state of things. In the last one-and-a-half months development works have really picked up well.”

Reacting strongly to comments made by Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday that his party supported restoration of Article 370 to Jammu and Kashmir, Amit Shah said the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should make their stand on the issue clear.

“I think Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi should officially endorse this statement so that the people of India know [where they stand]…The president of their party should come clean on this,” Shah said. He said that although the Congress had made its stance – of being against the abrogation of Article 370 – clear in Parliament, it was necessary for the party leadership to give clarity on the issue.

Chidambaram had in a series of tweets said that his party “resolutely” stood for restoration of the status and rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and that the “arbitrary and unconstitutional” decisions of the Modi government made on August 5, 2019 must be rescinded. His comments came shortly after a joint declaration by the ‘Gupkar Declaration’ (an alliance of regional parties in J&K) to fight for the restoration of Kashmir’s special status.

BJP president JP Nadda had also called Chidambaram’s statements shameful and an attempt to ‘divide India’.

NC, Congress seek pre-August 5 position:

Reacting to the statement of the Home Minister, political parties have asked for pre-August 5, 2019, position.

“It is meaningless for us. The Central Government should first restore the pre-August 5 position. They have unilaterally eroded the special status of J&K which was a very unconstitutional step by GoI. The National Conference will fight for the restoration of pre-August 5 position. The National Conference believes that J&K has internal and external dimensions. We seek pre-1953 position and for addressing external dimension, talks should happen,” National Conference Member Parliament Hasnain Masoodi said.

J&K Congress Chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said, “For last 14 months, no development has been happening on the ground. People of all faiths and regions are angry. The Central Government should restore the pre-August 5 position. They should first conduct assembly elections and then there will be debate in assembly and people will decide what they want.” ( with KNS inputs)