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Justice, development now reaching J&K: Sitharaman

Parliament approves ₹1.42-lakh-crore budget for Jammu and Kashmir for 2022-23

March 23, 2022 09:21 pm | Updated March 24, 2022 12:31 am IST - New Delhi

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on March 23, 2022. Photo: SANSAD TV via PTI

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on March 23, 2022. Photo: SANSAD TV via PTI

Parliament on Wednesday approved a ₹1.42-lakh-crore budget for the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir for 2022-23, with the Rajya Sabha returning the relevant Bills to the Lok Sabha amidst a war of words between the treasury benches and the Opposition on “internationalisation of the Kashmir problem”.

The Lok Sabha passed the Bills on March 14.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, replying to the debate, said, “In the December of 1947, on the advice of the British government, our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru took the matter to U.N. He internationalised the issue, which even years later, our neighbours have been misusing it. It’s an issue which should not have gone to a global forum. This was essentially an Indian issue which we could have handled and we are doing it. We have shown the difference now.”

Interjecting, deputy leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma remarked that the position even pre-2014 was that J&K was an integral part of India. “It was Maharaja Hari Singh who then approached the government at the time of the Kabali invasion, when the Pakistani forces, under the garb of Kabalis, came close to the Srinagar airport, that is when the condition was made by the first Prime Minister and the first Home Minister that India will send its army only if J&K signs the instrument of accession to become an integral part of India.”

Addressing Ms. Sitharaman’s allegation of “internationalisation”, he said that only the issue of cessation of the military conflict was kept before the U.N. Security Council. “India never accepted plebiscite.”

250 State laws removed

Earlier in her speech, Ms. Sitharaman asserted that after the abrogation of Article 370, the people of J&K have been benefited by the implementation of 890 Central laws. “You see justice reaching, democracy reaching, economic development reaching” the residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.” Two hundred and fifty “unjust and discriminatory” State laws have been removed and 137 modified.

“The various impediments which prevailed in the State for industrial development have also been removed, and the industrial promotion scheme given by the Government of India has opened new doors for the development of the UT,” she stated.

Currently, a delegation from the Gulf countries was looking at possibilities of increasing their investment in the UT, she noted.

Law and order situation

Referring to the law and order situation, she said there had been an overall decline in terror activities. There had been a 33 per cent drop in infiltration in 2021, 90 per cent decrease in ceasefire violations, 61 per cent decline in terrorism-related incidents, and 80 per cent fall in abductions by terrorists. Also, there had been a 33 per cent decline in the number of police and security personnel who were martyred in 2021 over the previous year. Further, there was was no incident of weapon snatching in 2021 and even 2022 as far as now.

Ms. Sitharaman observed that 180 terrorists (148 locals and 32 foreigners, including 44 top commanders) were eliminated in 2021.

She also informed that 100 per cent COVID-19 vaccination of the eligible population had been achieved in J&K. She applauded the administration for this.

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