Updated: February 10, 2021 8:00:43 am
In their farewell speeches to the Rajya Sabha on the expiry of their terms, the four MPs from Jammu and Kashmir, including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, spoke of the past — and made a strong pitch for the future.
While Congress’s Azad shared his experiences as a college student in Kashmir and hoped for the end of militancy, PDP MPs Nazir Ahmad Laway and Mir Mohammad Fayaz asked for restoration of statehood — with the latter praising the Centre’s Ujjwala scheme. And BJP’s Shamsher Singh Manhas talked of barriers in aid reaching J&K.
Apart from praying that “militancy and terrorism” should end in the country, Azad dedicated a poem for Kashmiri Pandits, whom he called brothers and sisters.“Guzar gaya vo jo chhota sa ek phasaana tha, phool the, chaman tha, aashiyaana tha. Na pooch ujde nasheman ki dastaan. Na pooch. The char din ke par naam ashiyaana toh tha. Both of you [Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi] are sitting here. One again, make those homes again which were uprooted, we will all have to try for this,” Azad said.
With the Jammu and Kashmir legislature dissolved after the abrogation of Article 370, and no new elections called, which will mean no new Rajya Sabha MP for the time being, PDP’s Laway said everyone in the House now needed to be J&K’s representatives.
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“As far as our system goes, after 27 years, this House is being emptied, and I will only say, “Ab tumhaare hawaale yah Jammu Kashmir saathiyon… Just like the Prime Minister said what happened in Gujarat, in every home, every person has become a victim. Today I want to say in this Parliament that the mud in which Jammu and Kashmir is trapped, for Jammu and Kashmir, you people have to do something. You have to apply balm, you have to adopt it, you have to adopt our children,” he said.
Laway said that when he first arrived in the Rajya Sabha six years ago, he only knew Jammu and Kashmir, but over his tenure and his travels, “in every state of India there are my friends”.
“I want to say that in Jammu and Kashmir we have lost a lot, but we have gained a lot too. My request to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister is that the educated of Jammu and Kashmir is unemployed. Our only avenue in Jammu and Kashmir was tourism, that has been finished too. So please adopt Jammu and Kashmir… when we leave from this House, then other than Doctor Sahib (Farooq Abdullah), we have no representative here, you people are our representatives. You people have to speak for Kashmir. If we speak from our hearts, our wounds are so deep, Jammu and Kashmir, and specially Kashmir, the wounds are so deep, I don’t think they will become okay,” Laway said.
Laway said he had hope that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister would live up “to the promise they made to the House in front of me” and that Jammu and Kashmir would become a state again, and a Bill would be brought, “today or tomorrow.”
His party colleague Fayaz spoke of the “hurt” that mainstream politicians in Jammu and Kashmir feel at being called anti-nationals, when it was them who stood up to separatists’ calls for boycott. “In Kashmir, people like us who are in the mainstream, we worked for the country, we took the country’s flag to the villages, but sometimes we see on some television channels that someone says that I will go to Kashmir and plant my country’s flag, then we feel hurt. I want to tell you that when separatists used to call for a boycott, we would step out, we would get people out and show them that this is the way, that is not the way. So it hurts when someone calls us anti-national, we cannot tolerate it,” Fayaz said.
He said that when “things have happened they should be acknowledged”, and spoke specifically of the Ujjwala scheme. “What has happened should be acknowledged. I have seen the Ujjwala schemes or other schemes. When I was chairman of the municipal committee, in one year we used to get Rs 5 lakh. Now when I ask our people, they say they got Rs 5 crore. In the same way, about gas. Till yesterday, our ladies used to bring wood from the jungles, from villages very high up. Today in their homes too there is gas,” he said.
Fayaz said that when he took issues to the government in Delhi, he was never turned away, but blamed “people sitting in our state and bureaucrats” for problems. But he too reiterated the demand for a restoration of statehood and special status. “I want to appeal to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, that doing justice to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, please restore the state and the special status. By this, the people of Jammu and Kashmir will have their confidence strengthened in the country,” Fayaz said.
BJP MP Manhas said that in all of Jammu and Kashmir, there will not be an area he had not visited. “In my 13-year term (as party president there), I have continuously roamed Jammu and Kashmir, I have understood the circumstances and attempted to understand the people. I was able to show that experience here. The situation was very serious there. The way things used to go from the Centre there, there were many stoppages and hurdles in them reaching there, Jammu used to be ignored, Ladakh used to be ignored,” Manhas said.
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