SPEAKING in Parliament for the first time since his release from detention in Kashmir, National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah Saturday caused a stir in the Treasury benches asking why New Delhi, which is holding discussions with China over the disengagement of troops, could not hold talks with Pakistan to resolve pending issues.
As some BJP MPs protested, Abdullah also asked, “Should we not have the same rights as the rest of the country?… If Hindustan is developing, should J&K not develop?… What if we are Muslims?”
While not mentioning Pakistan by name, Abdullah said, “Border skirmishes have been rising and people are dying… A way has to be found to deal with this… As you are talking to China to attempt that it withdraws (from the Ladakh border), we should also talk to our neighbour to find a way out of this situation.”
The National Conference leader was speaking during the Zero Hour about issues related to J&K, after its special status was revoked. He had not been able to attend the last two sessions of Parliament as he was detained for over seven months following the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.
Abdullah started his speech thanking “all the friends who have reached my concerns to this House during my absence”. Noting that he was speaking in Parliament for the first time in over a year, he said, “The situation (in J&K) is such that despite promises, there has been no progress. Our children, businessmen do not have 4G, like we have here.” How were businessmen and students supposed to work, when the “world now works on the Internet”, he added.
He welcomed the Army’s admission Friday that three people killed in an encounter in Shopian in July were not militants but labourers from Rajouri, adding that he hoped the government would now announce hefty compensation for their families.
The Army said that it had found “prima facie” evidence that its troops “exceeded” powers under the AFSPA in the encounter, and had initiated disciplinary proceedings.
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