NC leader welcomes Home Minister's statement on restoration of statehood to J&K

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Jammu, Feb 13 (PTI) National Conference Provincial President Devender Singh Rana on Saturday welcomed the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir and said this will be a step forward in fulfilling the aspirations of the people.

However, he questioned the boycott of District Development Council (DDC) chairperson elections by BJP members in three of the four districts in Jammu region leading to adjournment of the meetings and said it has dealt a setback to democracy.

“We welcome the statement of the Home Minister on full restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir which should not be made a political battlefield. All parties must rise above political silos and work towards restoring J&K to its glory,” Rana told reporters at the party headquarters in the evening.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Shah asserted that the central government has done more for Jammu and Kashmir since Article 370 was scrapped in August 2019 than those who ruled it for generations, even as he assured that the Centre will grant full statehood to the Union territory at an appropriate time.

However, Rana invited the attention of Shah towrds what he called “political drama” enacted in Jammu region by the local unit of BJP after its DDC members did not turn up to take part in the DDC chairperson elections in Ramban, Rajouri and Kishtwar districts.

“Why did you boycott the process of democracy that you have been projecting all around as the restoration of democracy in J&K. You have failed the democratic process by boycotting it by a design,” he said, adding, “The BJP must come clear on its intent and motivation behind the boycott, as it has raised many questions in the public mind. Jammu and Kashmir is part of India and such a happening weakens the democracy.' “We need to rise above political considerations, leave behind our interests and work in unison to strengthen democracy, democratic values and Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

He said the obstructive politics is not only an affront to the electors, who participated in the democratic process braving odds but also an unpardonable assault on the sustenance and evolution of democracy.

The NC leader questioned the rationale behind postponing the election process despite the presence of nine councillors in Kishtwar and Rajouri, which formed the quorum, as per Election Commission rules.

“Two-third majority accounts for 9.3 members which being less then 9.5 has to be counted as 9. The issue was taken up with the State Election Commissioner, K K Sharma, with a plea that the Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had also upheld the judgement of the single bench in Purshotam Singh vs Public Service Commission case in 2004 with regard to quorum on similar lines,' he added.

“We pleaded with the State Election Commissioner asking the rationale behind deferring the election process in Rajouri and Kishtwar where nine councillors each were present,” he said.

The Provincial President regretted torpedoing the popular mandate not only by obstructing the process but also by browbeating and intimidating the elected representatives.

“A deplorable trend has been put in place by harassing the elected candidates and their families. This has serious ramifications for governance, with the neutrality and credibility of the administration becoming a casualty,” he said.

Rana recalled the assurance held out by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to the National Conference delegation recently about impartiality of the administration in the conduct of polls for chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, hoping this will be adhered to in letter and spirit.

He said administrative non-interference should not only be ensured but should also appear so in its totality.

He said everybody knows that the decision of the electors of Kishtwar, Ramban and Rajouri is in favour of the National Conference and the obstructive methods were further exposing the BJP and its “sinister undemocratic motives”.

Responding to a question about J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina affixing ranks on the shoulders of the promoted police personnel at an official function, the NC leader termed it as “unfortunate”.

He deplored such tendencies and said such acts amounted to belittling the institution of the police.

He hailed the Jammu and Kashmir Police as one of the finest professional forces in the country, saying this image is needed to be sustained and preserved at all costs. PTI TAS HDA