The BJP has asked the People’s Democratic Party, its ruling ally in Jammu and Kashmir, to review public holidays, including the birth anniversary of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
“Bilkul kaha hai (yes, I have asked for it),” said Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh when asked whether he had asked the government to review list of holidays being observed in the state. Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary is on December 5.
The BJP’s move follows the PDP’s reluctance to declare a holiday on the birth anniversary of the late Dogra ruler of the state, Maharaja Hari Singh, on September 23 as the government already observes Martyrs’ Day in the memory of 22 Kashmiris killed by the maharaja’s forces in action against an uprising in 1931. The Martyrs’ Day holiday is on July 13.
As the general administration department is under Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Nirmal Singh wrote to her.
Ruling PDP legislator Yuvraj Vikramaditya Singh, who is a grandson of the last Dogra ruler of the state, too had written a Mufti about the matter.
“The manner in which our holidays are increasing, there shall be a review of the list,’’ Nirmal Singh said. “We support the genuine demand of the people for a holiday on the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh as nationalist sentiments are attached with it’’.
Without mentioning the holiday on Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary, he said: “Aisi bhi chhuttiyan hain jinka ek particular party ke saath sambandh tha. Review hona chahiye (There are certain holidays in the name of people who were associated with some particular organsation…. There should be a review of the list of holidays),” he said.
Many in Jammu do not support the decision to allow the two holidays on July 13 and December 5. They want a public holiday on the birth anniversary of Hari Singh for having initiated numerous public welfare schemes and for signing the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Union.
The PDP said Mufti has to take a call. “The government can review the list of holidays, but a letter by the Deputy Chief Minister does not mean the demand has been accepted,’’ said PDP general secretary Meboob Iqbal. “Such issues need well thought out decisions,’’ he said.
National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar said Nirmal Singh does not appear to be aware of the history of Jammu and Kashmir. “He thinks that Jammu comprises of only Raghunath Bazar and Kanak Mand,” places considered to be the strongholds of the BJP.
The Congress described the demand as a BJP attempt to cover up its failure to fulfill assurances given to public. “You are part of the government… Sit in the cabinet and take a decision as to which things you want to keep and which you do not,’’ said state president of Congress G A Mir.