JAMMU: Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh today appealed to opposition parties to join hands with the government to work for Jammu and Kashmir instead of "misleading" people over an issue which is before the Supreme Court, a reference to the Article 35A case.
The senior BJP leader also criticised Pakistan and China and said the country would not be cowed down by border skirmishes as nobody should have any misconception about India's ability to defend its borders. He was addressing a gathering after unfurling the national flag at the Independence day celebrations at the Mini-stadium here.
"Some people are trying to mislead the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the people of the country by politicising issues. I would like to appeal to them to come forward and join hands with us to address the problems of Jammu and Kashmir. There should be no politics over the issue and we should have full faith in the Supreme Court," he said.
Though Singh did not name any political party, he was apparently referring to the National Conference which has kickstarted an awareness campaign to defend Article 35A of the Constitution which is being challenged by an NGO in the Supreme Court.
Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954, empowers the state legislature to define permanent citizens and grant them special privileges.
Singh said that when the BJP formed the government with PDP, it was decided that the partners will maintain status quo on certain contentious political issues due to the difference of opinion.
"We have accepted the agenda of alliance and we being part of the government will maintain that status quo (on these issues), irrespective of our party line," he said. Singh also said that China and Pakistan were conspiring against India.
"After failed Pakistani attempts, China is trying to encircle us, but India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left the country isolated at the global level. India now is not the same as it was in 1962. It is 2017 and if China makes a mistake and steps on our land, it will taste a bitter defeat," he said.
Singh said that Pakistan was not learning any lessons and is continuing with its "nefarious" activities. "Whatever is going on is at the behest of Pakistan which is responsible for the bloodshed of thousands of innocents in the state. Security personnel and local policemen are rendering sacrifices to defeat the nefarious designs of Pakistan," he said.
India is a powerful country and we will not be cowed down by nefarious and cowardly acts. Our people are being killed at the borders but we have made a resolve to weed out separatism and terrorism from the state, he said.
The deputy chief minister paid rich tributes to the father of nation Mahatma Gandhi, Baghat Singh, Raj Guru, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan and other martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of the country.
"After a long drawn battle, the country achieved freedom and it is now our responsibility to safeguard that freedom. If achieving freedom was difficult, to maintain it is a bigger challenge," he said.
Singh hailed the contribution of Kashmiri service personnel and said that DSP Ayoub Pandit, SHO Feroz Ahmad and Lieutenant Umar sacrificed their lives like many others from Jammu and other parts of the country to safeguard our nation. We salute their sacrifice, he said. He also remembered Syama Prasad Mukherjee.
Rejecting the opposition criticism related to governance, Singh said the development of the state especially Jammu region has gathered pace since the formation of the PDP-BJP government and will be further improved in the coming years. "We got two smart cities – one each for Srinagar and Jammu, an IIT and an IIM. The prime minister had given us an economic package of Rs 80,000 crore. We will ensure holistic development of the state," he said.
He also assured round-the-clock power supply in Jammu region from next year.