People in J&K want statehood, elections: Azad

‘Foundation stones are being laid but there is no work on the ground’
People in J&K want statehood, elections: Azad
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad during the inauguration of Congress Bhawan at M A Road in Srinagar on Tuesday August 10, 2021. [File]Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Senior Congress leader and former Member Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad said that people he met during his two-day Kashmir visit were in favour of restoration of J&K’s statehood to be followed by assembly elections.

Addressing a media conference at his residence, Azad said, “restoration of statehood would help curb militancy in J&K”.

Azad said that “hundreds of people from political, trade, employee union backgrounds he met during his two-day Kashmir visit were in favour of restoration of statehood, followed by assembly elections”.

“During my interactions, I could feel that people are not completely satisfied with the dominance of non-local officers in bureaucracy. People here want equal opportunities to local and outside officers and want a mix of both in bureaucracy,” said Azad.

“People I met expressed that statehood should not wait for polls. Restoration of statehood can help curb militancy and bring back much needed peace in the Valley,” he said.

The former chief minister said it was wrong to “only pinpoint” at the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for the recent law and order problems in Kashmir but said it was time to have a popular government in J&K.

“No one is against the LG, let there be elections and an elected government and then the same LG can return back as the Governor.

“The officers need to deliver but they are not ‘cut up’ to run a democracy but just supervise policies and make other administrative decisions. These officers are not aware about problems faced by people. The solution to people’s problems can be sought by public representatives and not officers,” Azad said.

Drawing parallels between the situation in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 and the recent handling of the situation after civilian killings, Azad said it was not right that “there was a crackdown on motorcyclists in the name of managing law and order” which he said was similar to "jailing people after August 5".

“After abrogation of Article 370, instead of imposing Section 144 or a curfew, 16000 people were jailed. A solution needs to be found instead of going for an overdrive of catching two-wheeler riders as is being done now,” said Azad.

When asked as to how the abrogation of Article 370 had changed things in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said it has hit the local industry and employment while also causing inflation especially that of raw materials which have skyrocketed.

He said the way sand mining and extraction rights for other minerals “were given to outsiders” was spiraling into huge problems for people in J&K.

Azad said J&K “is a poor state and didn’t have many resources for outsiders to take a share”.

“I have been told that a truckload of sand which would cost Rs 4000 is now costing Rs 16000 and the price of bricks has increased three-fold. There is a PM’s scheme in place which assures homes for all but look at how costly the raw material is for one to construct a house,” Azad said.

Taking a dig at the government, Azad said the development was not percolating. While stressing that development in J&K was “merely cosmetic”, Azad said “foundation stones are being laid but there is no work on the ground”.

“They can’t keep putting foundation stones on Greenfield projects. Let the government show development in a real sense,” said Azad.

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