JAMMU: Asserting that he had retired only from Rajya Sabha and not politics, Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday expressed a resolve to continue his fight for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's statehood and its residents' special rights over jobs and land.
The former chief minister also stressed the importance of unity among the residents of the Union Territory to fight the threats from China and Pakistan and said "we need to stand with our forces against the enemies".
Ghulam Nabi Azad retired from the Upper House on February 15.
"I have retired from Rajya Sabha but not from politics. This is not for the first time that I retired from parliament. Till my last breath, I will continue my services for the nation and will continue my fight for the rights of people," Azad told a 'Shanti Sammelan' organised by the Gandhi Global family here.
He was joined by senior party leaders including Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raj Babbar and Anand Sharma.
In an apparent reference to the August 5, 2019 development when the Centre revoked J&K's special status and split it into two Union Territories, he said, "We have lost our identity but we will not give up and continue our fight for the restoration of the statehood within and outside parliament."
"We want representatives of the people of all the three regions of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - to form the government. Leh supported the UT status but Kargil is against it. Every party in Jammu - from BJP to RSS and National Conference to PDP and Panthers Party wants statehood back," he said.
"It is the voice of the people and I challenge anyone to come out with a statement that they do not want the restoration of statehood to J&K," he said.
He also said he will continue his fight for the locals' rights over land and jobs.
"Jammu and Leh face the immediate threat if outsiders start settling in J&K and Ladakh. We are not against the people coming from outside to get jobs here, but in Jammu and Kashmir, resources are limited as we do not have any big industry here," Azad said.
In politics, he said the fight continues to ensure that the people get their rights.
"Jammu and Kashmir shares its border with China and Pakistan and the enemy is very active unlike any other part of the country. We had many wars in the past but the rift has not ended till date. It is our responsibility that we maintain harmony, peace, love and fight the enemy together," he said, adding it is possible when "we are united and did not fall prey to those who are doing the politics of division".
He said every party has a right to come to the power but doing the politics of religion is not good for the country.
"You need to take everyone along as was done by Congress in the past. The Congress could not have achieved freedom for the country, had it not welcomed everyone from every region, religion and every community including educated people, farmers, traders and labourers, irrespective of their caste and creed," he said.
He said the Congress learnt from former prime minister Indira Gandhi that border residents are brave people who fight the enemy alongside the forces and need to be given a special attention.
"We salute our forces for their bravery in the face of challenges from Pakistan and China. We support them and stand with them against the enemy," he said.
"World leaders like US president Joe Biden makes a reference to Kashmir soon after taking over. They do not talk about any other place of the country but we have now lost our identity and have to fight for its restoration," he said.