A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah sought an account of development under governments in the past 70 years in Kashmir, led by the Abdullah and Mufti families, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah responded with a long list of works done during the 26-year rule of the Abdullahs.
The NC leader said: “He (Shah) was trying to suggest that nothing had been achieved (in 70 years) and that the NC had wasted its time in office with nothing to show.”
Addressing a rally in Baramulla, his first in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, Shah said: “What we have done, I will give its account, but what you (Mehbooba) Mufti and Farooq (Abdullah) sahib have done, you should give that account.”
NC vice-president Omar Abdullah had said soon after Shah’s speech that the list of achievements of the NC governments was “exhaustive” and that they would respond to the Union minister in a day. On Thursday, Farooq shared the list, dividing the NC rule between pre-1990 (before the start of militancy) and post-1990 period. One of the highlights, he said, was the “revolutionary” land to tiller Act, “that paved the way for the social and economic upliftment” of the people of J&K”.
Under the NC governments pre-1990, a decision was taken to give free education up to the university level to people, with one university each established in Jammu and Srinagar, an agricultural university set up in the Valley, and a state-of-the-art Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences on the pattern of AIIMS in Srinagar, apart from adult education centres, degree colleges in every district and District development Boards, Farooq said.
He said the NC government had also established an exclusive college for women and given them 50% reservation in medical and dental colleges.
On Wednesday, Shah called the spread of “democracy to the grassroots” (in a reference to District Development Boards) as the biggest achievement of the Narendra Modi government. Farooq said Panchayati Raj Institutions had come up under the NC government and the first elections were held for them many decades ago.
“(Jammu and Kashmir was the) first state in the subcontinent to have universal adult franchise set at the age of 18,” Farooq claimed.
* Gujjar benefits
With Shah citing the Modi government’s measures for the benefits of Gujjars and saying no governments had done the same earlier — the delimitation panel has also set aside seats for STs in the new Assembly — Farooq said it was an NC government that had established a Gujjar and Bakerwal advisory board as well as mobile schools for Gujjars in J&K.
Shah asked how many industries were set up under the NC and PDP governments (the PDP has been in power in J&K for six years). Farooq said his party’s government had set up SICOP, a corporation to encourage local, small-scale industries, and industrial estates and food parks.
In the post-1990 period, Farooq said, around 600 industrial units were set up when he headed the government in 1996-2002, also listing the Baghliar dam feeding 900 MW power plant, 480 MW Uri power project and 390 MW Dulhasti Power project. Besides, the period saw the construction of 1,500 bridges and 3,600 new school buildings, one of Asia’s first cable car projects in Gulmarg, and the Royal Springs golf course in Srinagar. He said the government had provided employment to 1.6 lakh youth in this time.
“The Rehber e Taleem scheme (was) introduced, revolutionising education and employment in the sector… On the same pattern Rehbar-e- Ziraat, Rehbar-e-Janglat… were employed.”
Under the Omar Abdullah government in 2008-2014, Farooq said, the landmark Public Services Guarantee Act and RTI were introduced, as well as the Accountability Commission and Vigilance Commission constituted to curb corruption and give good governance.
Besides, mini-Secretariats were set up in every district, panchayats empowered and 1.75 lakh youth given jobs and 3,000 entrepreneurship units set up. Over 20,000 temporary teachers were regularised, and 10,000 doctors, specialists and paramedics appointed, Farooq said, citing the SKEWPY (Sher-i-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for the Youth) scheme.
He said other projects that saw the green light or were completed during this time were the Chenab Valley Power Development Corporation, Chenani-Nashri road tunnel, the Mughal Road connecting the Valley with Rajouri, and Zojilla tunnel, apart from flyovers in Srinagar and Jammu and hundreds of road projects.
“Despite the decades of turmoil, J&K state rose to the top among Indian states in terms of major development indices,” Farooq said. “Today the literacy rate in J&K is 77 per cent… Life expectancy is 74… The incumbent regime has, and may again, claim credit for all of this, but propaganda and facts are two different things.”
In his speech, Shah also contrasted the “Modi model” with the “Gupkar model”, a reference to the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which includes the major mainstream parties of Kashmir. While the “Gupkar model” put stones and machine guns into the hands of youths, the “Modi model” gave AIIMS, IITs, IIMs and NEET, the Home Minister said.
Addressing this, Farooq said: “I don’t wish to get sidetracked by some of the other things that were said about guns and stones. The sacrifices of my colleagues over the last 35 years, with scores of NC leaders and workers being killed or injured by the very guns that Amit Shahji accused us of distributing, is the only answer this accusation needs.”