Describing that he was the lone Kashmiri Pandit in the Upper House, Congress MP Vivek Tankha said the budget should have been discussed by the state representatives in Jammu and Kashmir, so it is time that democracy is restored in J&K at the earliest.
NEW DELHI — Congress Member of the Rajya Sabha Vivek Tankha on Tuesday said that the economy of Jammu and Kashmir has been paralysed, stagnant and in the last 254 days, it was either Governor’s rule or President’s rule there.
He said that the Budget of J&K is being discussed here wherein the representatives of all parts of the country will participate in the discussion but except me, there are no other representatives of J & K present here because there is no legislature there, though it has an assembly. The four Members from J&K had retired long back and no one has come to this House since then.
“There is no Legislature in Jammu and Kashmir to discuss and debate their Budget and for locals to have their voices heard by local representatives,” he added.
Describing that he was the lone Kashmiri Pandit in the Upper House, he said that Kashmir is not just about Article 370, Kashmir is much bigger than Article 370 and ideally the budget should have been discussed by the state representatives in Jammu and Kashmir, so it is time that democracy is restored in J&K at the earliest.
While initiating the discussion in the Upper House on the Budget of Jammu and Kashmir for 2022-23 and two Appropriation Bills for the Union Territory, he pointed out that there has been a decline in industries like horticulture, tourism, and so on. Kashmiri apples, shawls, willow bats were once famous but the demand has reduced drastically because of the wrong policies of the government.
“There has been a decline in the allocation for higher education, decline in cultural and public health heads and so on, how will foreign investment come when there is no conducive security environment there, when the Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to the valley, how will foreign investment come? asked Tankha.
“The government needs to know the aspirations of the local public, and needs to see the sufferings of the people. Placing the Governor as the Chief Executive of the UT could be a political answer to the situation but Kashmir needs an economic answer. Until you don’t revive the economy of J&K you can’t do anything there,” he stated.
Citing the example of the apple trade which is on the decline, the Congress lawmaker said that by the policy of the government, apples from the neighbouring countries are flooding India. Once Kashmiri apples sold at Rs 1500 per box which has now come down to Rs 700. He added that there has been a decline in the Kashmiri saffron business, the Kashmiri art of carpet making, handicrafts and Pashmina shawl are dying because it has become less profitable.
Talking about the Sharda Peeth in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Tankha said that it is said that the Adi Shankaracharya used to worship there, the government should work on creating a corridor like Kartarpur Sahib in Punjab.
He said that the time has come to restore democracy in J&K, the Budget should be discussed in the state legislature and be made based on the needs and aspirations of the local population.
He stated that he is bringing a Private Members Bill on Kashmiri Pandits, “The Kashmiri Pandits Rescue, Restitute and Rehabilitation Bill” and urged all Members of the House to support this Bill.
This Bill seeks rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley at the earliest, restoration of the properties encroached from them, and taking steps towards providing a security and employment umbrella to encourage the community’s return. — IANS