December 21, 2021 4:32:17 am
As talks between the government and protesting employees of Jammu and Kashmir’s Power Development Department (PDD) failed to break the ice, and residents at many places faced a power shutdown on Monday for the second consecutive day, political parties and leaders expressed serious concern over the proposed privatisation of the assets of the power department.
PDD employees have been on strike since Sunday against the J&K administration’s decision to privatise the department and merge it with the Power Grid Corporation of India.
Former J&K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “GoI has made its criminal agenda behind scrapping J&K’s special status clear. Motive behind state-sponsored loot of our natural resources – illegal auction of sand mining to outsiders, conversion of agricultural land to privatizing power transmission is to plunge J&K into chaos.”
Questioning the moral authority of J&K administration to privatise assets of the power department, former CM and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah tweeted, “The J&K administration may be able to claim the constitutional authority to privatize assets of J&K but it completely lacks the political authority. Decisions of this nature with far-reaching consequences should be left to an elected Govt.”
Separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference also expressed its concern over the proposed privatisation move and its “merger with the Power Grid Corporation of India”, and has rallied behind the protesting employees. “At no other place in India has such a merger taken place as the authorities are doing here,” Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said in a statement. “In this manner it becomes obvious that the policy of seizure of natural resources of J&K by the Government of India continues, naturally leading to anxiety and unease among people and fear for loss of their resources.”
Asking the administration to desist from such policies, and to accept the demands of the protesting employees, Hurriyat termed it an attempt to disempower the people of J&K and “usurping” the UT’s resources.
The Hurriyat stated, “Jammu and Kashmir, which is rich in water and other natural resources, has not been able to solve the problem of electricity even after seven decades and the consequences are borne by Kashmiris in winters and the people of Chenab and Jammu in summers. Instead of addressing this issue those in power are furthering their agenda of disempowering the people of J&K and usurping our resources.”
On Sunday, the UT administration called in the Army to operate power infrastructure in Jammu, drawing strong criticism from the political parties.
“The army has been called to operate the power infrastructure in the Jammu division of J&K. There is no bigger admission of failure for a civilian administration than to call upon the army, it means a total breakdown of governance has been accepted by the J&K government,” Omar had tweeted.
Mufti posted: “Bringing the Army into such matters has further exposed their fake good governance narrative and ensures that people here live in perpetual fear of the jackboot. Such harebrained tactics and policies will only deepen the sense of alienation & suffocation that people of J&K feel.”
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