Clamour grows for elections, restoration of statehood in J&K

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/29/2021 10:53:24 AM Front Page

Azad for elections in 6-7 months; NC ready: Omar

Jammu: Although the centre yet to announce scheduled for assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the political parties have intensified their campaigns to lure voters and pitch for restoration of statehood.
Fromer Union Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad campaign in Kashmir region while National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah touring in Chenab Valley.
“Now winter has started and elections are announced in other states due which their possibility of elections in 2-3 months. Government should conclude delimitation exercise and conduct assembly polls at earliest,” Azad told reporters at the side line of function during his second day of tour in Kashmir region.
"A lightening struck Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Something which no one would have thought or guessed happened. Not just the people of Kashmir or Jammu or Ladakh, but no citizen of India would have thought that Jammu and Kashmir would be divided into two parts and two Union territories would be carved out of it," Azad added.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said usually, a Union Territory is made into a state, but perhaps for the first time, a state was downgraded into a Union Territory.
"It was like a DGP turned into a thanedaar, a chief minister into just an MLA and a chief secretary into a patwari. No one would have thought something like this would happen. We thought no wise person would do such a thing and there was something messed up. It was untoward. I have talked a great deal about it over the last few years in Parliament," he said.
Describing the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before August 5, 2019 as "our identity", the former Union minister asked people to be ready for the struggle to achieve full statehood.
Meanwhile, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Sunday said he supports a delimitation exercise based on the 2011 census data "rather than one driven by political motives" even as he asserted his party was ready for assembly elections, whcih are yet to be announced.
He also said his party never believes in provoking the public and added that people get annoyed when there is a mistake on part of the government.
"Getting ready for elections or holding elections is the responsibility of the election commission. Our (assembly) elections have already been delayed for a long time as the last polls were held in 2014 and seven years have already passed," the former chief minister told reporters in Doda.
He said his party is ready for the polls and would announce its candidates with the sounding of the poll bugle. "After that it is up to the people how long they are willing to accompany us. We have to convince them of that."
Asked about the ongoing delimitation process and the central government's promise of holding the assembly polls after the completion of the exercise, Abdullah said "It (delimitation) should not be conducted on the basis of politics."
"It should be carried out on the basis of the Census. We have the census of 2011 and no census data after that so there will be no objection from anybody if the delimitation is done in accordance with the 2011 census data," he said.
Responding to a question about the reported remarks of the J&K Director General of Police that some Kashmir-based mainstream parties are provoking the public, the NC leader said, "It is better to ask him (police chief) about it."
"However, we (the NC) have neither provoked people in the past, nor have any programme to provoke them in the future. We are saying that the government should do its work in a rightful manner and the people will stay calm and maintain peace," he said.
Referring to the November 15 encounter in Hyderpora of Srinagar, which left four persons dead, the former chief minister said, "When there is a mistake from the government, people get annoyed we did not do the Hyderpora encounter, the people were not involved in the encounter as well.
"Innocent people were not killed by us. If people got agitated, why blame us? We are not responsible for that, he said, adding "those guilty should be identified and brought to book."
In response to a question about hoisting of the national flag in the valley, he said, "We had two flags (prior to August 5, 2019) but never preferred one flag to another and kept both the flags high."
He further shot back by saying he hoisted the national flag on August 15 and January 26 when he was the chief minister, but added it was also "our right to unfurl the state flag as well" which was given to the people of J&K by the Constitution.

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