New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on Saturday, while discussing the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, in Lok Sabha said that, after revocation of Article 370 and being deprived of the special status, the Union Territory will get the status of a state only when an “appropriate time” comes. Shah made the remarks in the Lok Sabha which was passed by a voice vote.
To note, the ordinance enables the merger of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the All India Service officers with the AGMUT cadre, which stands for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories. Experts fear this merger would erode the presence of Kashmiris in key bureaucratic positions within the Valley.
On August 2019, when the Narendra Modi government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 that gave its residents special rights in land ownership and jobs, the region was also divided into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
On Saturday, the Opposition had objected to the ordinance in the lower house during the discussions, saying that the government was not in a position to pass the Bill as petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 were still pending in the Supreme Court.
“The government should have waited for the disposal of legal challenges to abrogation of 370 before bringing in this Bill,” National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi quoted saying. “What if tomorrow, the Supreme Court says the abrogation is invalid under law?”
Masoodi further added that the Bill violated the precepts of both democracy and separation of powers, “This Bill also goes against the Home Minister’s own promise on August 5, 2019, that statehood will be restored,” adding that if “You want to keep a Damocles sword on Kashmiri officers that they could well be sent off to Mizoram.”
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on J&K reorganisation (amendment) Bill-2021. https://t.co/GUmh8GQibT
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 13, 2021
Questioning the constitutionality of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which is still pending in Supreme Court, Congress’ Manish Tewari too urged the House to withdraw the Bill.
Replying to opposition’s statements, Shah blamed them for creating a controversy over the ordinance, saying that there was no mention in the Bill that the Union Territory will not be given statehood in the future. “I will reiterate again that this Bill has nothing to do with the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah said. “The state will be given the status of statehood at the appropriate time.”
Shah also claimed that the apex court would have stayed the law if its constitutionality was prima facie wrong. “The matter is sub-judice, that doesn’t mean we can’t work on its development,” Shah added. “I stand by what I said earlier. Statehood will be restored to J&K.”
The senior BJP leader also targeted the Congress for retaining “a temporary provision” of special status for 70 years. “Those asking me status report on J&K after Article 370 was abrogated, do you have a report on your progress in the last 70 years,” he asked.
Shah further rebuked Opposition to not make Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh a part of politics. “There are many other things to do politics over,” he added. “But this is a sensitive part of the country, it suffered many wounds. It is our job to heal them.”
जम्मू कश्मीर और लद्दाख को राजनीति का हिस्सा हम न बनाएं।
बहुत सारी चीजें हैं राजनीति करने के लिए।
मगर ये देश का संवेदनशील हिस्सा है, उनको कई घाव लगे हैं। उनको मरहम लगाना हमारा काम है।
— BJP (@BJP4India) February 13, 2021
Listing out the reforms taken up by his government in the region, HM Amit Shah argued that a lot of policies, including the anti-corruption and reservation laws ,became applicable in Jammu and Kashmir only after Article 370 was abrogated.
“We restarted Panchayats,” he told the House, referring to the District Developmental Council elections. “It is not just that. We have allocated Budget. Several departments have been handed over to panchayats. We have decentralised power.”
जम्मू कश्मीर में वर्षों तक शासन करने वाले तीन परिवार बताएं कि उन्होंने वहां के लोगों के स्वास्थ्य के लिए क्या किया?
मैं सदन को गौरव के साथ बताना चाहता हूं कि 17 महीने में हमने जम्मू कश्मीर में पीएमडीपी के तहत स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय से 881 करोड़ रुपये की धनराशि भेज दी है। pic.twitter.com/mVb8vqpFn0
— BJP (@BJP4India) February 13, 2021
Speaking about the development of the region, Shah said that the Modi-led government will connect Kashmir Valley with the railways by 2022. “We also have targets for 100% tapped water, 100% road connectivity,” he said.