National

Ghulam Nabi Azad says J&K in ‘political quarantine’ for seven months now

Ghulam Nabi Azad. File photo: PTI

Ghulam Nabi Azad. File photo: PTI  

The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha also said that it would have been good if the Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bills had been debated and cleared in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and not in Parliament.

The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Bill approving the Budget of ₹1 lakh crore for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for 2020-21 and a separate Bill for the Budget for Ladakh.

The Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bills were passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19.

Also read: Narrowing options in Jammu and Kashmir

Opening the debate, Leader of the Opposition and Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad said it would have been good if the Bill had been debated and cleared in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and not in Parliament.

“The world today is fighting coronavirus and looking for ways to escape it. While the rest of the country is experiencing lockdown currently, Jammu and Kashmir has been in a political quarantine for over seven months now. This political quarantine, unlike the coronavirus, is not a natural one but a manmade one,” Mr. Azad said.

Four demands

Mr. Azad said the Congress had four demands — that statehood should be reestablished; the residents of J&K should have land rights just like those of northeastern States; there should be reservation for the domiciled people in jobs in the State; and all its political leaders be freed.

Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that J&K economy had suffered huge losses since August last year when it was stripped off special status and statehood.

Also read: Jammu and Kashmir to get delimitation commission

CPI(M)’s voice

CPI(M) MP K.K. Ragesh said the silence of Jammu & Kashmir residents at gunpoint should not give the wrong impression that things were normal there.

Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal said the government, while bringing in the legislation to remove special status, had promised an economic package but that so far had not happened.

Countering the Opposition allegation, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur who spoke at conclusion of the debate said the difference between pre- and post-August J&K was that it had become corruption-free.

He denied claims that the economy had been hit by the Centre’s move.

The Minister claimed the GST collection from the State had increased by 13%, excise duty was up by 7.5% and stamp duty by 60%.

The apple trade was at the same level as last year’s and the GDP, despite the slowdown world over, hovered at the same figure as last year.

However, Mr. Thakur did not give any figures for the GDP or apple trade.

Budget split-up

Explaining the budget provisions, he said that Budget for agriculture has increased by ₹680 crore, tourism by ₹207 crore and education by ₹1,000 crore. The Budget for Jammu and Kashmir for 2020-21 laid emphasis on the development of the Union Territory which came into existence on October 31, 2019. The total budget estimates for the fiscal is ₹1,01,428 crore, of which development expenditure is of the order of ₹38,764 crore, an increase of 27%.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 8:15:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/azad-says-jk-in-political-quarantine-for-seven-months/article31145336.ece

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