Parliament gives nod to extension of President’s rule in J&K

New Delhi: President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir was on Monday extended by another six months, with the Parliament giving its nod amidst the government’s assertion that it would hold the Assembly polls in the state by this year end as and when the Election Commission (EC) takes a decision in this regard.

The Rajya Sabha on Monday adopted a statuary resolution for extending the President’s Rule in J&K from July 3. The resolution was passed by the Lok Sabha on June 28.

J&K is under Central rule since June 2018, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of the coalition government with Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Upper House also passed the amendment bill of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004.

Replying to the day-long debate in which 27 members took part, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the government was not happy to extend the Central rule in J&K. He also said that the government did not want to govern the state through remote control, but this measure had to be taken because of certain difficulties.

He said the Assembly elections could not be held with the Lok Sabha polls because security forces expressed their inability to provide security to the candidates whose number would have been around 1,000.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, it was not possible to hold Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha polls because 1,000 candidates and their rallies were to be provided security. The security forces expressed their inability as theyr wer deployed all over the country due to the Lok Sabha polls.

According to Shah, security forces, which were already thinned out due to elections across the nation, would have been further burdened to provide cover for these candidates’ neighbourhood and village rallies along with that of their senior party leadership.

Taking a swipe at Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad for saying that the Congress government had held elections in the state, Shah said, “I don’t decide the poll timing. It is the EC which decides.”

“Unlike you, we don’t decide poll timings. If we do that, you will say that we are controlling even the EC,” the Home Minister said, adding: “There is no drought of state governments for us. We have 16 state governments across the country. Only the security concern was the reason. It was the security forces and the state administration’s suggestion not to hold polls now.”

Taking a dig at the Congress, Shah said the Modi government wanted to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls all over the country, and not just in Jammu and Kashmir. “But you only are not agreeing. If you agree, I will bring the bill tomorrow,” he said.

Shah also said that he felt happy that all the members of the House “considered Jammu and Kashmir as part of the country”.

“Jammu and Kashmir can never be ceded away from India. The Narendra Modi government is committed to pursue its policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism relentlessly and to the uniform and equal development of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” Shah said.

He said the Modi government has ensured that all people-centric development schemes of Central and state governments reach every village of Jammu and Kashmir even under the President’s Rule.

“This manifests the spirit of ‘Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat’. Modi government’s commitment to the policy of ‘Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat’ should not be taken to mean that the forces who want to divide India will be spared. They will be given an appropriate response in their own language,” Shah added.

The Home Minister also said that Congress must explain the historical blunders committed by them.

“We must learn from history. The Congress must answer for the historical blunders committed by them — why did the (Jawaharlal) Nehru government go to the UN despite Kashmir’s accession to India? Why did he agree for a plebiscite that is in any case out of question today,” he asked.

He also said that India has continued with a single approach towards the Kashmir, “but if the problems persist even after 70 years, it becomes imperative for us to review and adopt a new approach. We are all for development but there will be no place for separatists and terrorists.”

Shah, while moving the resolution, said that President’s Rule in J&K will end on Tuesday and the Central government did not have any option but to extend it as elections were not possible in the state right now.

“The government of the state fell in June 2018 due to lack of a majority. In November the Assembly was dissolved. The EC, after considering various factors, decided that elections will be held in the state by the year-end. So the Central government did not have any option but to extend the President’s Rule,” Shah said.

The Home Minister also moved the amendment bill of Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, to extend the 3 per cent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs to those living within 10 km of the International Border (IB).

Earlier, the provision of 3 per cent reservation was available only to the youth living within 6 km of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, this provision will be applicable to people living near the International Border as well.

Shah said this has been a long-pending demand of the population living near the International Border, as they have been facing the brunt of cross-border firing in the state.

The amendment, he added, will benefit about 3.5 lakh people living in 435 villages in three districts — Kathua, Samba and Jammu.

Shah said people of these three districts were feeling discriminated against. “There is a feeling among the people of these three districts that their interests are ignored, he said.

“People living along the LoC and IB face similar hardships. The Pakistani army repeatedly violates the ceasefire. People have to relocate and the schools remain closed. This effects education,” Shah added.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, provided for vertical reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in different professional courses to various categories — Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, residents of backward area (RBA), residents of areas adjoining actual Line of Control (ALoC) and weak and under privileged classes (social castes), along with horizontal reservation to the ex-serviceman and physically challenged persons.

However, the reservation benefits were not extended to the persons residing in the areas adjoining the International Border.

In February, the Union cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister had approved the proposal of Jammu and Kashmir government to issue the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019,’ by the President of India.