JKAP president Altaf Bukhari advocates early restoration of statehood, assembly polls in J&K

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari on Tuesday advocated the early restoration of statehood and holding of assembly elections in the Union Territory, asserting that the people desperately need a popular government as the present administration is “paralysed”.

Bukhari also pitched for the immediate restoration of the 4G internet mobile service, stipend for unemployed educated youth, release of arrested youth and rehabilitation policy for “misguided” youth who are returning to the mainstream after shunning the path of violence.

Making a fervent appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the former minister said, “We are waiting for the fulfillment of the promise made to us from the floor of Parliament that the statehood to J-K would be restored.

“We want our identity back,” Bukhari, who was flanked by senior party leaders from both Kashmir and Jammu regions, told reporters here after felicitating party candidates and independents who successfully contested the recently held District Development Council (DDC) elections.

He said the prime minister made a promise about the restoration of the statehood to the JKAP delegation when they called on him after formation of the party last year.

Criticising the opponents, he said, “Our detractors attacked us for our meeting with prime minister and home minister…there were some who were thinking that statehood will be restored in due course of time but we know it is a hard battle and we have to work jointly to achieve this.”

On August 5, 2019, the central government scrapped the special status of J-K under Article 370 and bifurcated it into union territories.

“We take the credit for restoring politics in J-K. Politics was said goodbye on August 5, 2019 (when majority of the leaders including three former chief ministers were detained). We came forward though the decision of the August 5 was not in good taste for us as well. The people want restoration of statehood and safeguards for their land and jobs,” he said.

Referring to the various PIL’s pending in the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s move, Bukhari said they are expecting a decision form the Supreme Court which is in accordance with the “heart-beat” of the people of J-K.

Batting for early assembly elections after the successful conduct of the recently held DDC polls, the JKAP leader said the people want a popular government so that their problems get solved.

“We want assembly elections be held sooner even before the completion of the delimitation process. The delimitation process can complete its work of creating seven more seats. We used to nominate two seats, let it be seven this time around as you have already changed so much and this will make no difference,” he said, adding at least people will get a popular government which is responsive, responsible and answerable to them.

He claimed that the present administration is “paralysed” and both the regions are facing a lack of developmental work and administration inertia.

“You (Prime Minister) are told that a lot had happened in J-K over the past two and a half years. For God’s sake, send a team which does not restrict itself to computer presentations and can see practically whether anything had happened,” he said.

Bukhari said, “We do not see any development taking place in any of part of the two regions. Development has come to a grinding halt and the administration is paralysed and restricted to advertisements only. People are facing lot of problems.”

He also demanded a probe into the frequent closure of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the ongoing four-lanning project.

“Jammu-Srinagar highway is the lifeline as far as national security is concerned. Why there should be no CBI probes against engineers and contractors who vandalised the hills overlooking the strategic highway. They should be booked under national security act,” he said, adding there was no preparedness of the administration to tackle the situation in the aftermath of the snowfall which is a regular feature during winters.

Referring to the continued snapping of 4G mobile internet services in most of J-K post-August 5 development, he said there is a lot of improvement as far as security scenario is concerned as militancy-related incidents had come down and there was a peaceful DDC election as well so there is no justification in the ban.

“Our children are suffering because they are unable to attend online classes. Prime Minister, you are very brave and have a lion’s heart so please give them 4G as they are the future of this country,” the JKAP leader said.

He also demanded the release of youth undergoing detention and said “now is the time for normalcy and reconciliation”.

“Those who have gone astray are coming back and need a rehabilitation package,” he said and called for a stipend of Rs 10,000 for unemployed educated youth and said they cannot wait for three to four years for reaping the benefits of the recently announced industrial package.

Bukahri also demanded covering of the old unit holders in the new industrial package.