J&K parties react to US statement on elections

J&K parties react to US statement on elections
Regional political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have said that the international community is aware about the ground situation in the Union Territory and it was high time for the Government of India to fix the faults and take corrective measures immediately.

Political parties in J&K were reacting to a statement issued by the US Senate subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counter Terrorism on March 2, in which they expressed concern over human rights challenges and the fact that assembly elections were not being held in J&K.

“We have been cautioning the Government of India about this. The situation here could not have gone unnoticed. The GoI should not have nursed this impression,” said Hasnain Masoodi, Lok Sabha member of National Conference from south Kashmir. He said that the “largest democracy in the world” cannot allow bureaucrats to rule the 13 million people of J&K.

“They should address the aspirations of the people by revoking all the decisions made on August 5 and 6, 2019, and conduct the assembly elections. These statements should come as a wake-up call for the government of India,” said Masoodi.

The last assembly elections in J&K took place in December 2014 and the PDP-BJP coalition government was formed in 2015. In June 2018, the BJP withdrew support from the coalition government and since then, J&K has been under governor’s rule and then under President’s rule. In August 2019, the Centre passed the J&K Reorganisation Act through which the special status of J&K was revoked and the state was carved into the two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

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“This place has been kept hostage and constitutional rights have been suspended. We have been robbed of our rights and people have been alienated,” said Suhail Bukhari, chief spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party. He said the GoI should take steps to address the issue. “All their decisions taken in the last few years have failed. So, they should immediately realise their faults and take corrective measures,” said Bukhari.

BJP’s general secretary in J&K Ashok Kaul said such statements were issued when there is an emerging situation. “GoI has always maintained that elections would be held here. After the process of delimitation is completed, electoral rolls and polling booths will be designated and then the assembly elections will happen,” said Kaul.

Union home minister Amit Shah had recently said that the assembly elections in J&K would be held within six to eight months after the delimitation process was completed and later the statehood of the UT would be restored.

“The statement emerging from the subcommittee urging India to hold assembly elections in J&K has been a consistent stand of the US since Aug 5, 2019… it must be a matter of concern for the MEA to have its most valuable strategic ally making frequent references to lack of democracy in J&K,” said Adnan Ashraf, spokesperson of the J&K People’s Conference.

He said that there has already been a significant delay in holding assembly elections. “Restoring democracy in J&K would require a long, uninterrupted process of engagement to rebuild trust. Conducting assembly elections at the earliest is imperative,” he said.

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