Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday announced in the Lok Sabha that 24 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly had been reserved for Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), as they ‘belong to India.’
While tabling the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2023 in the House, Amit Shah said that earlier, Jammu had 37 seats but now it has 43. Meanwhile, Kashmir, which had 46 seats, now has 47.
He added that 24 seats have also been reserved for Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
Shah tabled two bills – the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2023 and Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill allows the lieutenant governor (LG) to nominate up to two members from the Kashmiri Pandit community to the Assembly.
Many believe the Bill would cause tensions between the resident Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslim community.
Speaking about the bills in the House, Amit Shah said, ‘When they (Kashmiri Pandits) were displaced, they were forced to live as refugees in their country. Around 46,631 families were displaced in their own country. This Bill is to get them rights, this Bill is to give them representation.’
Shah added that the bills aimed at ‘delivering justice to people who had been deprived for the past 70 years.’
While addressing the lower house, Shah also attributed the Kashmiri Pandit exodus to the actions of past governments in the state then.
Shah said that there was an ‘era of terrorism’ after the 1980s in Jammu and Kashmir and those ‘responsible for stopping it were enjoying vacations in England,’ in an apparent dig at the Congress.
Amit Shah speaks about former PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘blunders’ in J&K
Shah also highlighted ‘two big mistakes’ made by the late former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the region, that he felt were responsible for the prolonged suffering of Jammu & Kashmir.
Shah stated, ‘Two mistakes happened due to the decision of (former PM) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru after which Kashmir had to suffer for many years. The first was to declare a ceasefire when our Army was winning. If there had been a ceasefire after three days, PoK would have been a part of India today… The second was to take our internal issue to the UN.’
Referring to this as a ‘historic blunder,’ Shah expressed the belief that if Nehru had taken the right steps, PoK would be an integral part of India today.
The people of J&K and Ladakh ‘aren’t happy’ says ex-CM Omar Abdullah
As the Lok Sabha passed the two bills, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah slammed the Centre alleging that the abrogation of Article 370 ‘harmed the bond between Kashmir and the rest of the country.’
The people of J&K and Ladakh ‘aren’t happy’ with the Centre’s decision to revoke the region’s special status, Abdullah told reporters in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday.
‘It is the right of people of J&K to use their vote and elect their leaders. We are being kept away from this. A fixed match is being played. When you ask the Election Commission (EC) about elections, it points at the Centre, and when we ask the Centre, it points towards the EC,’ the former J&K chief minister (CM) said.
Many regional political leaders chimed in with their disapproval, termed the abrogation of article 370 ‘illegal’ and a ‘violation’ of Constitutional provisions and the Representation of the People Act, 1952.
PDP president and also former CM Mehbooba Mufti said, ‘This is illegal because the abrogation of Article 370 (of the Constitution) was done illegally and the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court. When something is sub judice, how can they [Centre] make a law on it?’
Mufti called for urgent collective action as she addressed a workers’ convention, against what she believed to be an ‘increasing onslaught’ on the rights and dignity of people of J&K.
Senior J&K Pradesh Congress Committee leader Ravinder Sharma slammed the Bill for allocating only one seat to PoK refugees and termed it a ‘betrayal’ by the BJP against the promise of allocating eight seats.
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