Azad reiterates demand
for J&K statehood,
delimitations, assembly polls


By Archana Prasad

NEW DELHI: Terming the split of Jammu and Kashmir as “a loss”, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday reiterated his party’s demand for granting the UT its statehood first followed by delimitation of constituencies and assembly elections. This comes after Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is on his three-day visit to the UT, announced that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored after the delimitation of constituencies and assembly elections.
Speaking to ANI, Azad said, “We are a great loser. We are a great loser after the state was divided into two. We are a great loser ever since the Assembly has been dissolved.”
“When PM Modi invited political leaders from Kashmir to his residence, I had demanded that we did like to have statehood followed by elections. Other parties also demanded. The Home Minister assured us that statehood will be granted and the delimitation commission will give a report,” the Congress leader said.

Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad

“I had requested both Prime Minister and Home Minister that we are thankful to them that statehood is being granted and state should not have been divided into two. But having been divided, now you have agreed to give statehood but do not commit the mistake of doing delimitation first and then giving statehood,” he added.

Condemns targeted killings in J&K

Following a series of targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir, former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that militancy has increased in the Valley and the present situation has instilled fear in people.
“It is a matter of concern. Because of targeted killings, there is fear among the common public. People of Jammu and Kashmir have expressed their concern and have demanded peace. There is an increase in targeted killings from the past few months. There are attacks on the army,” he said in an interview with ANI Sunday. Azad responded to reports that Rahul Gandhi and he gave contradictory statements over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said, “…I visited a religious leader & private conversation began. Some media persons filmed it…They aired only half of it…I’d also said that militancy increased.
Azad clarified that he had said, “There is no peace in the Valley and the media had released only a part of his conversation with a religious leader which ignited the controversy.”
The Congress leader added that during his visit, he met people from different districts and spoke to a delegation of different constituencies. “I spoke to them about militancy, unemployment, present situation of Jammu and Kashmir, whether the election should be held or not, or they want statehood or union territory,” he said.
Highlighting the demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he said that people expressed that they want statehood. “They said that there is huge unemployment. They want educational institutions to open,” he said.
According to the Congress leader, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was better during the COVID-19 pandemic and a spike in attacks was witnessed in the last few months.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Azad also said that tourism and economic activity had just started in Jammu and Kashmir after a halt but the targeted killings of civilians by “anti-India” elements were ignited to stop people from coming into the union territory.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Saturday demanded that the political system must be restored in Jammu and Kashmir and called for the restoration of J-K’s statehood so that Assembly elections can be held as soon as possible.
“A political system must be restored in Jammu and Kashmir and elections must be held as soon as possible,” Congress leader told ANI. He further called out Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the abrogation of Article 370 and said, “What do you have to say Amit Shah ji? You removed Articles 370 and 35(A) and promised that Kashmir will change. However, it did not happen and now Kashmir is in a much worse state, the statehood should be restored, which is very important, ” he said.
His statements come after several incidents of killings of civilians by the terrorists have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Shah is on a three-day visit to the Union territory, the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. “In the last two weeks, many have been killed,” he said.
Chowdhury added, “Amit Shah, who is in Kashmir, will try to instil trust amongst people and will also try to give them hope. But in the common public, there is no hope amongst the people there as wherever they are going, there is curfew.”
The Congress leader further claimed that there is an internet shutdown in the union territory.
“Amit Shah is visiting the union territory because now he feels that it is getting out of hands,” he said.
In a veiled attack at Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and the Congress, the Union Minister while addressing an event in Jammu said, “What did these three families did for Jammu and Kashmir in last 70 years? A Panchayat has been formed in every village. Now ‘Dadagiri’ of these three families will not work.”
“Some people are raising questions about security. Between 2004 and 2014, 2,081 people lost their lives — 208 people were killed every year. From 2014 to September 2021, 239 people lost their lives. But we are not satisfied. We want to create an atmosphere where no one loses life to terrorism,” Shah added.