Srinagar: The People’s Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a group of regional political parties fighting to restore the ‘special status’ of Jammu and Kashmir, has said the latest Union Home Ministry report is far from reality while terming the government’s slogan of development as a “red herring.”
“The reality is that there is a systematic disempowerment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that is continuing to happen, through bureaucratic rule,” PAGD spokesperson M Y Tarigami told NewsClick.
The Union Home ministry had earlier released a 38-page report titled “The dream of one nation, one law, one symbol fulfilled: After effective removal of the provisions of Article 370, the picture has changed: a new start in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh”.
The amalgam of Kashmir-based parties, which includes National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and others, while taking a dig at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said there is a long-standing demand of “Hindutva elements”, aiming to change the demographic composition of the only Muslim-majority state in the country, rather like Israel is doing on Palestinian lands.”
In the statement, the PAGD also said, “The claims of the BJP government that the abrogation of Article 370 and downgrading of a state with special status into two union territories has paved the way for new industries, created new employment opportunities, decreased terror incidents, brought atmosphere of peace and security, nurtured democracy, eradicated corruption, brought new Central laws for betterment of people in this region are nothing but a concocted and fabricated stories while the ground situation belies these claims.”
PAGD, which is at the centre of opposition to BJP’s ‘arbitrary’ decision of abrogating Article 370 and 35 A carried out on August 5, 2019, has maintained that the decision has led to ‘disempowerment’ of people in the region.
“The presence of Article 370 was not an impediment in the overall development of the State as claimed by the government. All government data and surveys indicate a marked improvement in almost all human development indices in the State,” Tarigami said.
The mainstream parties in the region, while opposing the move, have accused BJP of removing space for politics and criminalising dissent in the erstwhile state. They have also been accusing the Centre of employing various enforcement agencies, like National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), to “coerce” civil groups, political leadership and media into submission.
The PAGD has alleged that the BJP led government is a product of, what they are calling a “Hindutva-corporate alliance” which caters to a “pro-corporate agenda and promotes “Hindutva”.
The PAGD or Gupkar Alliance also said that the BJP government’s claim implementing various key laws like Land Reform and RTI Act, is a “blatant lie.”
“The State of Jammu and Kashmir was a pioneer in implementing the revolutionary land reform laws which no other state has done except Kerala to some extent. Similarly, the erstwhile state’s own RTI Act was stronger than the Union law. Its repeal when Article 370 was read down has led to chaos and complications. Without knowing the facts of the matter, BJP leaders had maintained that the people of J&K had no access to information under the Right to Information Act until Article 370 was read down,” it said.
The Gupkar Alliance also said that the 53 projects of Rs 58,477 crore in J&K and nine projects of Rs 21,441 crore in Ladakh under progress cannot be attributed as being part of the PM’s 2015 package. The Prime Minister’s development package of about Rs 80,000 to strengthen the social-economic infrastructure and for the development of Jammu & Kashmir was announced on November 7, 2015, during the PDP-BJP coalition government’s tenure.
On the employment front, the PAGD said J&K lags far behind and has assumed the highest unemployment proportion as compared to the pre-August 2019 period.
Whichever way we look at it, the removal of special status and of restrictions on land purchase by outsiders will not add an iota of employment, the PAGD said. “It will most likely cause a reduction in employment in the region, even as land passes into the hands of rich outsiders from Delhi or Mumbai. The unemployment rate is highest in India in the past 45-years and in J&K it is worse than that,” CPI (M) leader Tarigami said.