FORMER CONGRESS leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said that although he cannot guarantee the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, he can guarantee the return of statehood for the Union Territory.
Azad was addressing a public meeting in south Kashmir’s Anantnag as part of his public outreach in the Valley after his resignation from Congress and ahead of launching his own political party along with other Congress dissidents. This was Azad’s second public meeting in the Valley.
“I would guarantee that because of my one dozen speeches in Rajya Sabha, I made the Prime Minister and Amit Shah Ji to accept that they would return statehood,” Azad said in his address. “We will get statehood and when we get it, I would guarantee land and job rights to the people here.”
Azad said while he cannot promise restoration of Article 370, autonomy or self-rule, but would promise dignified life and development.
“Those who promise restoration of Article 370, let them do it. But let them tell us what happened to their past promises,” Azad said in an apparent reference to the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party. “Why are they forcing another promise on us.”
Azad said special status can be returned to J&K through Parliament or Supreme Court. “The second way [for return of special status] is through Parliament. Despite my efforts in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, 86 per cent votes were cast in Modi’s favour, and Congress, of which I was a part then, got only 14 per cent,” he said.
“The third option is the Supreme Court. I pray that they do it quickly but for the past three years the file is gathering dust in a corner. When will they take up and what would be their decision. Can anybody from Kashmir guarantee me that it would happen in six months and the decision would be in their favour. Ghulam Nabi Azad can’t claim it. Even Modi sahib can’t claim it.”