Kashmir living in fear, business in Jammu zero: Ghulam Nabi Azad
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was worrisome and the economy has suffered since the Centre's August 5 decision. Addressing a press conference after his week-long visit to the state, Azad said: "The atmosphere of J&K is one of fear, and since it became a union territory, the Centre has been threatening the local administration."
Businesses in both Jammu and Kashmir have been shut for close to two months now, which has derailed the economy of the state, he said.
"Everything that reaches Kashmir goes from Jammu. So the shopkeepers of Kashmir town and rural areas are completely dependent on Jammu, therefore, due to shut down the business in Jammu is zero," the senior Congress leader said.
Questioning the decision of the Centre to revoke the special status and bifurcate the state, Azad said that Kashmir has been under siege for over 50 days. "Everything is not okay in both Jammu and in Kashmir, several ruling party leaders are also not speaking due to fear of their national leaders," Azad added.
Reacting to the announcement of Block Development Council elections in the state, Azad said that it will be a mockery of democracy if the block and district level elections are conducted when political leaders of mainstream parties in the state have been either detained or under house arrest. He alleged that the dates were announced after the BJP successfully defected most local leaders at Panchayat level. "These elections were not allowed during the Governor's rule, now that all political leaders have been detained and under house arrest, the government has announced an election," Azad told the media.
The former J&K chief minister demanded the release of political leaders and that elections be denotified.
Earlier on Sunday, Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said, "Block Development Council elections will be conducted on October 24 from 9 am till 1 pm, across J&K and counting of votes will start at 3 pm on the same day. The elections will be held on 310 of 316 blocks in the state."
Asked if the detained mainstream political leaders will be released for campaigning for these polls, he said the present process had a limited electoral college.
(Inputs from The Indian Express)
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