Budgetary proposals for J&K passed

Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.  

Minister says corruption has ended; Opposition seeks release of former CMs

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday told the Lok Sabha that corruption had ended and things had become more transparent in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after the region’s special status under Article 370 was diluted on August 5 last year.

Responding to the debate on budgetary proposals and the demand for grants for the Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, she listed the positive developments, including a rise in exports, and informed that soon the Centre would hold a special conclave on start-ups.

In a discussion that went on for close to seven hours, most Opposition members attacked the Modi government for the political detentions in J&K and demanded the immediate release of former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah (National Conference) and Mehbooba Mufti (Peoples Democratic Party).

Opposition members also asserted that the Budget for J&K should be discussed in its Assembly and not in Parliament.

Past precedent

Ms. Sitharaman pointed to several past instances between 1991 and 1996, when Parliament passed the J&K Budget with the then State being under Central rule.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said J&K had not seen a more peaceful eight-month period in the militancy-hit region than since August 6, when its special status under Article 370 was abrogated.

“New dreams, new hopes and new aspirations have taken birth there under the leadership of Modi,” he said, while stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be going to Ladakh to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21.

Dr. Singh hit back at the Opposition by saying that while they [the Opposition] were concerned “about two or three families”, they were not worried about the over 40,000 people who had lost their lives in the past 30 years of militancy in J&K.

Initiating the discussion, Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the economy had collapsed as trade and tourism were adversely affected because of restrictions imposed in J&K over the past eight months. “The government should open its ears and listen to the voices of people as a dangerous situation is developing there,” he said.

When Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad intervened to say Internet restrictions were in place to ensure terrorists did not spread fear and threaten people, Mr. Tewari said that terrorism was not a new phenomenon and “this could not be an excuse to close Internet services”.

National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said the picture that was being presented was quite different from the ground reality and asked the government to examine J&K afresh.

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