West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday expressed concern over the safety of political leaders in Kashmir and said that the BJP government’s process of abrogating the special status given to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was flawed.
Speaking at a party event in Behala to celebrate Independence Day, the Trinamool Congress chief said that the entire process of scrapping the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was done in an atmosphere of fear.
“I will not get into the arguments whether (abrogation) of Article 370 was right or wrong. But the process was wrong. It was done in an atmosphere of fear, using guns and bayonets, in an unconstitutional manner,” said Mamata.
Expressing concern over the status of three former chief ministers of J&K — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — who have been arrested or put under house arrest, Mamata said: “Even today don’t I have the right to know the whereabouts of the three Chief Ministers (of Jammu and Kashmir)? They were elected by the people. It has been seven to eight days since the shutdown in the Valley, but the people of the country still have no idea where they are,” she said.
The chief minister claimed one of the former chief minister of J&K called her a day before the abrogation of Article 370. “A day before all this happened about Kashmir, a (former) Chief Minister, one of whom whose whereabouts are not known now, called me and said we are all very afraid. If we are in danger will you stand by us? Unfortunately we were not able to stand by them in a way we should have been,” she added without naming the person.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister said that her government’s ‘Kanyashree Prakalpa’ scheme has so far helped over 60 lakh girl students in the state. On the occasion of the Kanyashree Dibas, Mamata said that her government has spent over Rs 7,000 crore on the scheme since 2013.
Describing girls as assets of the world, Mamata said that the Kanyashree scholarship has helped girls in schools, colleges and universities in realising their dreams. “Today is #KanyashreeDibas, a special day for #Bangla. The #Kanyashree scheme, started in 2013, has since won the @UN (first prize) award. Girls are the assets of our state, our country and the world,” Mamata tweeted.
The primary aim of the Kanyashree scheme, which is a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme, is to ensure that girl students continue their study in schools and delay their marriages till at least the age of 18.
“The #Kanyashree scholarships take girls from school to college to the university level where they become independent women of India. The initiative has empowered over 60 lakh girl students. Total budget since launch is over Rs 7,000 crore #KanyashreeDibas,” she said in another tweet.
The scheme has two cash transfer components an annual incentive of Rs 750 is given to girls in the age group 13 to 18 years and studying in Class 8 for every year till they continue their education, provided they are unmarried at the time. One-time grant of Rs 25,000 is also given to girls once they attain the age of 18, provided they are engaged in an academic or occupational pursuit and unmarried.