Congress seeks new domicile rules, job guarantee for locals in J&K

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an all-party meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, in New Delhi on June 24, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who led the party’s delegation at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting on J&K on Thursday, said the party had placed five demands, including restoration of full Statehood, holding early elections, and the return of Kashmiri Pandits, but did not demand the restoration of Article 370 in J&K.

Mr. Azad told reporters after the meeting that in the new Bill for Statehood, the government should protect land rights through new domicile rules and guarantee employment for locals.

The other demand by the Congress delegation, whicht included J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir and former deputy chief minister Tara Chand, was the release of political detainees at the earliest.

“In today’s meeting, from Congress’s side, we informed the Prime Minister why the State should have not been dissolved. The move was done without consulting elected representatives. But in the end, after saying all this, we have put up five big demands in front of the government. Statehood should be restored at the earliest was our first demand,” Mr. Azad told reporters after the meeting.

“We had historic domicile rules and also rules regarding employment. The government should give a guarantee that they will bring Bills on land and employment [in J&K],” he added.

Though the Congress did not directly refer to the restoration of the special provisions under Article 370, party leaders claimed that its demand for special land rights and job guarantees for locals would “have the same effect”.

Specifically asked about the party’s position on Article 370, Mr. Azad said the matter was sub-judice.

“For now, we will not talk about this. The people of J&K are in distress since the August 5, 2019 decision of downgrading and bifurcating the State,” Mr. Mir, the J&K Congress head added.

A couple of days ago, former finance minister P. Chidamabaram had talked about status quo ante by repealing the “offending laws” in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament. Another senior leader, Digvijaya Singh, had at a public interaction talked about taking a re-look at Article 370 if the Congress came to power.

On August 6, 2019, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had adopted a resolution that called the revocation of Article 370 as “brazen, unilateral and undemocratic” but stopped short of demanding its reinstatement.

“Article 370 was conceived and crafted by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, assisted by N. Gopalaswamy lyengar and V.P. Menon. Article 370 is the Constitutional recognition of the terms of the Instrument of Accession between the State of Jammu & Kashmir and India. It deserved to be honoured until it was amended, after consultation with all sections of the people, and strictly in accordance with the Constitution of India,” the CWC resolution had stated.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 12:50:08 PM |

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