‘Destroyed communal harmony, economy of J&K’ # People suffering due to internet lockdown, collapse of judiciary’
NEW DELHI, Mar 18: Congress MP Manish Tewari on Wednesday said the decisions of the government to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories will have long-term consequences and called upon the government to listen to the voice of its residents.
He said the situation in the union territory was becoming “serious” and alleged that there was a collapse of the judiciary.
Initiating the debate on supplementary demands for grants for Jammu and Kashmir from April 1, 2019 to Oct 30, 2019, he said the decisions of the government to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories had been taken due to “narrow politics” and “the country will have to bear long-term consequences.”
He said while National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has been released, two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are yet to be released. “There is no satisfactory answer whey they were detained. (Use of) Public Safety Act is illegal. I condemn the government’s action,” he said. Tewari also demanded a list of people who have been arrested or detained in different jails of country after abrogation of Article 370 since August 5, 2019.
Tewari said there was “internet lockdown” for nearly five months and it had not been properly restored even after Supreme Court ruled that the “right to internet is a fundamental right”. He said that the innocent children had suffered the maximum due to “lockdown” as over 11,000 schools remained closed for seven months. He alleged there has been collapse of judiciary in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tewari said when a Habeas Corpus petition is filed, the court gives it primacy as it is an instrument used by a citizen for protection of his life and property.
He said 459 Habeas Corpus petitions were pending, over 400 of which were pending before the Kashmir bench of the high court.
He alleged that the judiciary was not ready to hear these cases and a “mockery of institutions” was taking place. Referring to economic loss, he said Jammu and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry had estimated that there had been a loss of Dollar 2.4 billion dollars in four months.
The Congress member said that 70 per cent of people in the state were dependent on agriculture and the sector has suffered a loss of Rs 10,000 crore in the past seven months.
Tewari said the state earned Rs 6,500 crore in 2016-17 due to trade in apples but the crop had not been harvested till October last year. He said that tourism, which provided direct employment to 5 lakh people and to indirect employment to 26 lakh people, had also “collapsed”.
Tewari said the government itself had brought down its estimates of earning from tourism to Rs 1170 crore from Rs 1670 crore in 2019-20. “There is no economic progress if there is no peace. The decisions of August 5 and 6 (last year) have disrupted social amity. Open your years and listen to the voice of Jammu and Kashmir. A serious situation is developing and the budget of Rs 1 lakh crore will not have an impact,” he said.
Apart from the supplementary demands for grants, the House also took up a discussion on demands for grants in respect of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the year 2019-20 from October 31, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
He said it destroyed the communal harmony as well as the economy of Jammu and Kashmir.
”It was a big mistake which has destroyed the economy of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Congress Member Manish Tewari initiating the debate in the Lok Sabha on Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2019-20, Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2019-20 from April 1, 2019 to October 30, 2019 for Jammu and Kashmir and Demands for Grants for 2020-21 for Jammu and Kashmir from October 31 to March 31, 2020, Demands for Grants for Jammu and Kashmir and for Ladakh for 2020-21.
All the demands for grants were clubbed by the Chair under the rules, Speaker Om Birla said.
RSP Member N K Premachandran raised an objection on the joint discussion for grants.
Tewari said it was unfortunate that the decision to nullify Article 370 was taken neither under diplomacy nor ‘rajdharma’, but was the result of narrow-minded thinking of the Government and gave adverse outcomes.
He alleged that the Government gave an indication that “we want the territory but not the people of J and K.”
”We nonetheless do not know the way many individuals from J and K have been detained in several prisons throughout the nation after August 5,” he said. Tewari demanded that the government issue a list of people who have been kept in different jails.
The Congress Member said internet rights of the people of J and K were taken away, adding that access to internet is a fundamental right.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made an intervention, saying that the Supreme Court docket’s order on entry to web is for freedom of speech and expression and never for terror networks.
Tewari responded that terrorism been there for long and every government has tried to deal with it.
The tourism business has additionally been hit, he said, adding that 1,000 house-boats remained vacant.
Tewari urged the government to “open ears” and “listen” to the voices of people as he claimed a “dangerous situation” is developing there. He said that social peace is important for economic development of a place.
He said that growth of key sectors, including agriculture and tourism, are declining. “It will be better if the budget for Jammu and Kashmir could have been discussed in the Assembly,” he said, adding the August decisions are a “tragedy” for these union territories. Citing data of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said there was a loss of Rs 18,000 crore. “…USD 2.4 billion worth of economy was lost after the decision of August 5-6, 2019,” he said, adding agriculture sector has lost Rs 10,000 crore in last seven months. Similarly, he said, apple farmers earned Rs 6,500 crore in 2016-17 and after the imposition of restrictions only 50 per cent of harvesting could be done.
He said that the tourism industry, which is the biggest after agriculture, has “totally collapsed”. Tewari said that tourist flow too has impacted as it was estimated that about 21 lakh tourists will come to Jammu and Kashmir but till July 2019, the figure was 5.21 lakh. Over 5.6 lakh jobs are also impacted in the sector and about 50,000 jobs are hit in the carpet sector due to closure of restrictions on internet services. Noting that maximum budget has been allotted to the home affairs department, he said, “…this is an unsustainable model, it will not work.” These decisions have not been taken keeping in view “diplomatic” strategies but due to “narrow thought processes”, he said. On the abrogation of Article 370, he said the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court and “I expect a positive result from that”. He said that this decision was implemented by deploying additional 40,000 para military force personnel, detention of 5,161 people and imposition of the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) on 609 people.
Further Tewari said that now the government seems to realise that the August decision was a “mistake”. Participating on the discussion, Jagdambika Pal of the BJP said the decision has led to development of the union territories. He said that now no one can dare to hoist flag of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. He alleged that Pakistan approached against this decision to UN and the US taking “views of Rahul Gandhi (Congress)”, but they stated that it was India”s internal matter. “Pakistan is now keeping quiet but Congress is still raising the issue,” he said, adding several projects worth crores of rupees are now under different stages of development in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. He said bids are being sought for 13 airports and it will give a boost to the tourism sector. He claimed that Delhi riots of last month were pre- planned and Pakistan”s ISI hand was also there and “you should be ashamed of this”. A Raja of the DMK criticised the government”s decision on Jammu and Kashmir. Concerns raised by Opposition parties on Jammu and Kashmir have not yet been resolved, he said. “This budget discussion is just ceremonial and not in true spirit because we are not Kashmiris,” Raja said. He added that a state cannot become prosperous if social harmony will not be there. He said that Home Minister Amit Shah has assured and promised good administration and corruption-free society, but it has not yet been fulfilled completely. The Centre on Tuesday presented a Rs 1-lakh crore Budget for Jammu and Kashmir for 2020-21, and said the “highest ever” allocations reflect its commitment to make the Union Territory “a model of development”.