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Jammu & Kashmir leaders seek statehood, domicile rights for restoring normalcy

To win over the confidence of the people of J&K, the Centre will have to re-examine its decades-old Kashmir policy

Tuesday January 7, 2020 8:54 PM, IANS

J&K News

New Delhi: A group of political leaders in Jammu & Kashmir have proposed a set of measures to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) for restoring normalcy including restoration of statehood and establishment of a Legislative Council.

In a letter to J&K Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu, political leaders including former ministers and MLAs in J&K have flagged measures that can be taken for meeting the political aspirations of the people.

The letter to the L-G has been signed by former ministers Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Mohammad Dilawar Mir, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Democratic Party Nationalist President Zaffar Iqbal, and former MLAs Javed Hassan Beig, Noor Mohammad Shiekh, Choudhary Qamar Hussain and Raja Manzoor Ahmad.

The memorandum points out that since the revocation of Jammu & Kashmir's special status embedded in Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories Jammu & Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without one, "the majority of its residents are yet to reconcile with this decision".

"Although it is heartening that the Kashmir Valley remained peaceful and no fatalities were recorded due to enhanced security measures and other administrative efforts but the credit must go to the people of Jammu & Kashmir who showed extreme maturity while registering their peaceful protests," the leaders added.

"Fact of the matter is that a majority of people in Jammu & Kashmir feel hurt and there are vocal concerns wherein they feel their decades-long privileges were unceremoniously curtailed," they added.

To win over the confidence of the people of J&K, the Centre will have to re-examine its decades-old policies vis-a-vis Kashmir. Depending solely on security measures and dealing with people's political aspirations through the law and order prism will always have the old tested repercussions, the leaders said.

The leaders have demanded restoration of statehood including establishment of a Legislative Council and providing reservation of seats for socially and economically backward classes, art, culture, languages, literature and sports.

"Annulment of this Article (Article 35-A) is the main reason behind the present discontentment among the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The constitutional and legal decisions taken on August 5 have been viewed by significant number of population of J&K as something like stripping them off from the rights over their land and other rightful holdings," they added.

The leaders have sought domicile rights of people of J&K. "This most important issue can be addressed by tangible legal and constitutional safeguards that can be put in place by virtue of which protection of domicile rights including that of reservation for the permanent residents of Jammu & Kashmir in the matter of employment and that of admissions to professional courses is ensured," they added.

In addition, they have sought release of detainees arrested after August 5.

"One of the psychological setbacks to a number of people in Kashmir is that their near and dear ones were detained around the August 5, 2019 decision. These people were not arrested for committing any violation of law, but were preventive detentions vis-a-vis law and order situation," they said.

They have also sought restoration of J&K Bank's functional domain. So there is a dire need for some concrete, purpose oriented measures and interventions to restore the functional dominion of J&K Bank which holds a revered position in Jammu & Kashmir's economic trajectory.

The other demands include withdrawing cases against youths, reviving agriculture and horticulture sectors, support for industry and manufacturing sector, tourism revival, relief for shopkeepers, bus owners, taxi owners, credit expansion, addressing unemployment, restoration of internet, national highway and regional connectivity, and augmentation of power projects.

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