Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is living under the shadow of China and Pakistan, Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DAP) chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday castigated the central government for “illegally removing” Article 370 in 2019 and said a “weak J and K” is not in the interest of the nation.
Addressing a well-attended public rally in Banihal — the hometown of Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, Azad said he wants the country to prosper and move forward in the path of development, taking along Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have returned to J-K as the situation became worse here after Article 370 was removed illegally and the historic and beautiful state was bifurcated (in August 2019) by this (BJP-led) government after 75 years (of its accession to India), destroying our identity,” he said.
Azad, who resigned from the Congress in August last year, said Article 370 was meant to benefit both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
After its abrogation, the changes in laws resulted in loss of business, contracts for minor minerals and growing unemployment besides the land being taken away from the possession of the occupants under the garb of anti-encroachment drive, the former J and K chief minister said.
“We are loyal to the country and want it to prosper and move forward in the path of development along J-K. If the crown (of India) is not happy or becomes weak, it is not in the interest of the nation. China on one side and Pakistan on the other, we are living under their shadow,” Azad said.
For prosperity and development of the country, he said, the J and K needs to be made prosperous and strong with its people given all benefits available to the citizens in the rest of the country and their interests safeguarded.
However, he credited the government for bringing down the graph of terrorism, ending the culture of strikes and stone-pelting, but criticised it for forcibly taking away land from the possession of the people and imposing taxes.
Questioning the policies of the central government and the Lieutenant Governor-led administration in J and K, Azad said some governments and leaders are deaf who only listen to a particular section of people and likewise some are blind who do not treat people equally.
“It will be a shame for me if any of my leader is deaf or blind. People of all religions are our own and should be heard and treated alike,” he said, lauding the party leaders for standing with the people and raising their voice during the anti-encroachment drive.
The DAP leader said he was a parliamentarian for 40 years and was straight forward in criticising the policies of the then governments.
“I have undertaken campaigns in support of the Congress across the country and spoken against the policies of the rivals but never targeted any leader.
“Even in Jammu and Kashmir, I have been vocal in criticising policies or failures of political parties but always respected the political opponents. I hate those who do not respect their elders,” he said, apparently targeting Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani who was once considered his close associate but became his strong critic after his exit from the grand old party.
Azad said he and his party workers are ready to give any sacrifice for the people.
“Some mindless people opened my eyes but I am telling my workers and supporters not to react or have a feeling of revenge for such persons,” he said, adding the entire Jammu and Kashmir is his constituency.
“I need leaders who treat everyone, irrespective of his religion or region, caste and creed, equally without restricting himself to his constituency and its people,” Azad said.