NEW DELHI: Staying with his party’s hard line on Article 370 — that provides special rights to Jammu and Kashmir — not being a permanent feature of the Constitution, Union minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha on Friday that the Centre was committed to ensuring peaceful Assembly elections in the state whenever the Election Commission decides to conduct it.
The Lok Sabha passed by voice vote two bills taken together to extend President’s Rule in J&K by another six months and extend reservation benefits to habitations on the International Border on the lines of the current benefits for people living around the Line of Control.
Piloting his first legislative business as a Union minister, Shah deflected charges of using Central rule in J&K to throttle democracy, by launching a blistering attack on the Congress.
While in power, the Congress had used Article 356 on 93 occasions, mostly to dismiss state governments led by rival parties, he pointed out.
“Who sent Sheikh Abdullah to jail, later made him J&K chief minister and again sent him to jail... why was B K Nehru removed as Governor when he refused to recommend President’s Rule in the state?” he asked, pointing an accusing finger at the Congress.
Shah blamed first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for one-third of J&K still staying in Pakistani possession.
“Today one-third of Kashmir is not with us. Who announced ceasefire when Pakistan encroached Kashmir after independence and occupied one-third of its territory? Nehru announced truce and Pakistan took away that part of Kashmir,” Shah said
Juxtaposing Congress’ alleged duplicity with his government’s approach, Shah asserted that the tide has turned as the Centre showed insaniyat by reaching the benefits of all welfare programmes, including free LPG connections, health insurance scheme, houses and toilets to all people in J&K.
As for Kashmiriyat, he said it will not be diluted a bit.
He rejected the contention of Congress member Manish Tewari that the BJP-PDP caused alienation in the Kashmir Valley.
No growth skew now
As much as 82% of the Rs 80,000 crore J&K special package okayed in 2015 has already been released, which includes 63 big projects and 16 road works.
“For the first time, Ladakh and Jammu regions have a sense of being part of the state, with access to development works,” Amit Shah said