Congress leader Rajani Patil on Sunday claimed there was widespread anger and resentment among the people of Jammu and Kashmir over the “arbitrary decision” of the BJP-led government to “disband and downgrade” the historically important state into two Union Territories.
“The decision of the BJP government to disband and downgrade the state into UTs was arbitrary, unilateral, unjust and against the wishes of the people of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Patil told reporters.
She was referring to the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution and its bifurcation into two Union Territories by the BJP-led government at the Centre on August 5, 2019.
“During my interactions with different sections of society over the last two days here, I found great anger among them over the downgrading of the historically important and socio-culturally rich Dogra state apart from being deprived of protection to jobs and lands,” Patil, who was flanked by party leaders including state Congress chief G A Mir, said.
Patil met office bearers, former legislators and different district and frontal units of the party and would leave for Srinagar on Monday as part of the second leg of her tour before returning to Delhi on October 14.
She is likely to meet Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to take up various issues of the people.
She further claimed that the Narendra Modi led government hoodwinked farmers ahead of the 2014 general elections by promising to double their income.
“The three laws enacted by the government have deprived the famers of their due income and protection from exploitation at the hands of the rich and capitalists,” she said, adding her party would continue to strive for the rights of the farmers and protect their interests.
She also claimed that another failure of the BJP is its inaction over the rising incidents of crime against women in the country.
Accusing the BJP of having double standards “as seen in the Hathras incident”, she said the Congress amended the country’s rape laws during its rule to make them stringent in wake of the Nirbhaya incident but the saffron party failed to strictly implement and execute them during its regime.
“The way the BJP government tried to suppress the voices against the heinous crime is most unfortunate,” she said.
The AICC leader further accused the BJP of exploiting the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandit migrants and alleged that nothing was being done for their welfare, rehabilitation and safe return to the valley.
“During my visit to Jagti Migrant Camp, I found resentment amongst them especially the youth who see no future,” she said.
She also criticised the BJP government at the Centre for its handling of COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “What could be worse than people suffering on account of lack of oxygen in the hospitals in Jammu. The BJP has neglected its duty as a ruling party after seeking huge mandate from people, especially in Jammu. The people would certainly show them the mirror in the next elections,” Patil said.
She said Congress president Sonia Gandhi has entrusted her with the important responsibility of looking after the sensitive region of Jammu and Kashmir and she would do everything possible to strengthen the party.
Meanwhile, Mir said the Congress has always worked for the establishment and empowerment of panchayats and participated in the elections to the municipal bodies to strengthen democracy.
“We are ready to take part in the upcoming bypolls but want redressal of our concerns over the security scenario and conducive atmosphere,” he said.
The Congress leader said his party struggled to get all provisions of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments incorporated in state laws for a strong and vibrant three tier panchayat raj and the government must practically implement them.
He said the Congress fully supports the demand for the inclusion of Punjabi, Gojri and Pahari in the list of official languages in Jammu and Kashmir.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine