The Lok Sabha on Friday gave its nod for the extension of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir by six months from July 3 even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the Centre was ready to hold Assembly polls in the state as and when the Election Commission (EC) decides.
Shah said that Assembly elections in the state, which is under President’ Rule since December last year following six months of Governor’s Rule since June 2018, were not held simultaneously along with the recent Lok Sabha polls because it was not possible to ensure security of all the candidates who were expected to participate in the democratic exercise.
“Whenever the Election Commission decides to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir, polls will be held and the Centre will not intervene. Earlier, EC was controlled by the Congress, but we don’t do the same,” Shah said while addressing the Lok Sabha.
Replying to a debate on a statutory resolution moved by him to extend President’s Rule in J&K, Shah targeted the opposition Congress for questioning the government for not holding Assembly elections in the state in the past one year, saying the grand old party had removed elected government 93 times in the past.
He also attacked the Congress over Article 370, saying the provision which granted special status to J&K was still there only because of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India.
“Of all the princely states that were divided, Article 370 applies only to Jammu and Kashmir, which was being handled by Nehru while the rest were under Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel’s care,” Shah said, adding that Article 370 was a “temporary provision”.
Shah on Friday moved a statutory resolution in the Lok Sabha to extend President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir for six more months with effect from July 3.
While tabling the resolution, Shah said that the Election Commission had agreed to postpone the Assembly elections and that these will be held after the upcoming Amarnath Yatra, saying “it is not possible to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir now.”
After he moved the resolution, the Congress criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for not holding the elections in J&K.
Blaming Nehru for the situation in J&K, Shah said his government did not need lessons on democracy from the Congress, adding that all the elections that took place in J&K when the Congress was in power were a “joke” in the name of democracy.
“They are saying we are trampling democracy in the state. Before this, Article 356 (President’s Rule) has been imposed in the country 132 times, out of which 93 times Congress had done it,” Shah said, adding that they (BJP) “never used Article 356 for political gains”.
Digging into the past, Shah said: “In 1953, when Shyama Prasad Mukherjee went to Kashmir protesting against the two Prime Ministers in a country rule, he was thrown in jail. His death was also not probed. Why? Was he not a senior opposition leader, a leader from Bengal, a former Union Minister,” Shah asked.
Blaming Nehru for the existence of Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK), Shah said, “Who called for ceasefire back then? It was Nehru who did it and gave that portion (PaK) to Pakistan. You say we don’t take people into confidence, but Nehru did it without taking the then Home Minister into confidence. Don’t teach us history.”
He also said that there was a time when there was no sign of India in Kashmir. “The State Bank of India signboard was seen with a cloth covering the word ‘India’.”
Shah also said that people say there is an atmosphere of fear in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Those who are against India should have fear in their hearts. We are not against the common people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah said, adding that his government had done a lot of work in the state in the past years.
Accusing Pakistan of sponsoring militancy in J&K, Shah said there was ‘zero tolerance’ towards militancy in the state.
He also said that the Modi government had met all the needs of the security forces battling militancy in J&K.
Speaking about the tough stand the Modi government had taken, the Home Minister said: “We know that terrorism in Kashmir stems from Pakistan. We went to their territory and attacked the roots of terrorism. Our government conducted air strike and surgical strike. The record should be clear before the public. No civilians were killed in these strikes,” he said.
He also justified the withdrawal of official security to those who pursued anti-India politics.
“Why was the Jamaat-e-Islami never banned (in Kashmir)? Why was the JKLF (Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front) never banned?
“It was a strange phenomenon that anyone speaking against India got security cover in that state. Why should we give security to such anti-India people? Those who want to break India have fear in their hearts now, which will increase in the coming times,” he said.
Shah also said that development was the top-most priority of the Modi government. “Even if we have to provide extra, we will,” he said.