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Lok Sabha passes two bills on J-K; Amit Shah targets Congress, talks of Nehru's 'blunders'

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New Delhi | December 7, 2023 2:21:21 AM IST
Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed two bills relating to Jammu and Kashmir with Home Minister Amit Shah in his reply to the debate targeting the Congress and stating that the people suffered due to "two blunders" of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru - declaring "premature ceasefire" and taking the issue to the United Nations.

The House saw a marathon debate over two days and passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill,2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill,2023.

Members in the Rajya Sabha discussed the economic situation in the country for the second day.

Blaming Jawaharlal Nehru for Pakistan occupying part of Jammu and Kashmir which belongs to India, Shah said that due to the "two blunders" of the former Prime Minister, Kashmir had to "suffer for years."

Shah noted that Nehru made "two blunders"-- declared a ceasefire without winning the entire Kashmir (during India-Pakistan war in 1948) and also took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations.

He asserted that if Nehru had taken the right steps, PoK would be an integral part of India today.

"I support the word that was used here -- Nehruvian blunder. Because of the blunder that was committed during the time of Nehru, Kashmir had to suffer. With responsibility, I want to say that the two blunders that happened during the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru, due to his decisions, because of which Kashmir had to suffer for years. The first is to declare a ceasefire - when our army was winning, the ceasefire was imposed. If there had been a ceasefire after three days, PoK would have been a part of India today...The second is to take our internal issue to the UN," Shah said.

During the debate, the Home Minister also said that the root cause of terrorism in the region was nothing but Article 370, which was abrogated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in 2019.

"During the 1994-2004 period, a total of 40,164 incidents of terrorism were registered. During the 2004-2014 period, a total of 7,217 incidents of terrorism took place. During the 2014-2023 period, under the Narendra Modi government, the total incidents of terrorism registered have been around 2,000, which marks a 70 per cent reduction in the incidents of terrorism. That is why I was right in saying that the root cause of separatism, the root cause of terrorism was nothing but Article 370," he said.

The Home Minister reaffirmed that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is part of the country. He said that the Delimitation Commission, set up by the Centre for the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, has reserved 24 seats for PoK.

"The Delimitation (Commission) went everywhere in J-K. The representatives of several communities, including Kashmiri migrants and people displaced in PoK, had submitted applications to them regarding their representation in state assembly. I am happy that the commission has taken cognizance of this and the (then) Election Commissioner of India has nominated two seats in state assembly for Kashmiri migrants and one seat for a person displaced in PoK, which has been occupied unauthorizedly by Pakistan," Shah said.

"Earlier there were 37 seats in Jammu (division), now there are 43. Earlier there were 46 in Kashmir, now there are 47. And 24 seats for PoK have been reserved, 'kyunki woh hamara hai' (because PoK is ours)," he added.

During the debate, Shah also said that these bills pertain to bringing justice to those against whom injustice was done.

He said that, as per figures, around 46,631 families and 1,57,967 people were displaced in their own country. "This bill is to give them rights and representation," he added.

Shah attacked the Congress and said the "biggest opposition" to the Backward Classes and the work of "stopping" them has been done by the main opposition party.

He took a veiled dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who repeatedly accused the BJP of not caring for OBCs in his rallies in the assembly polls. While BJP won Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Congress won Telangana and ZPM won Mizoram.

"There are some leaders who repeat for six months what is handed out to them. If any one party has opposed the backward classes most and stopped them, then it's the Congress party. The Backward Classes Commission was not given constitutional recognition for 70 years, Narendra Modi government gave constitutional recognition to the Backward Classes Commission," Amit Shah said.

The Union Home Minister said that the Congress never worked to provide reservations to backward classes under the Central Admission Scheme.

He also alleged that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, while in opposition, had opposed the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report.

"Today I want to ask who withheld the report of the Kakasaheb Kalekar Commission. The people of the country should know that. The Mandal Commission report was not implemented until they (the Congress) went out of power. And even when it was implemented, Late Rajiv Gandhi, while in the opposition, opposed it. And today they are talking about backward class. The Congress never worked to provide reservations to backward classes under the Central Admission Scheme. Only the BJP did it under the leadership of PM Modi," he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 26, 2023. It amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act of 2004.

The Act provides for reservation in jobs and admission in professional institutions to members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes.

Shah said that the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, pertains to bringing justice to those against whom injustice was done.

"The Bill that I have brought here pertains to bringing justice to and providing rights to those against whom injustice was done, who were insulted and those who were ignored. In any society, those who are deprived should be brought forward. That is the basic sense of the Constitution of India. But they have to be brought forward in a way that doesn't reduce their respect. There is a huge difference between giving rights and giving rights respectfully. So, instead of weak and deprived category, renaming it Other Backward Class is important," he said.

The Union minister said that during the era of terrorism after the 1980s, several families were forced to migrate from Jammu and Kashmir and live as refugees in their own country.

Referring to the exodus of Kasmhiri Pandits from Kashmir, Shah also made a veiled dig at former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

"There was an era of terrorism after the 1980s. Those who lived on the land as their country, were thrown out and no one cared about them. Those responsible for stopping it were enjoying vacations in England. When Kashmiris were displaced, they were forced to live as refugees in their country," Shah said.

One of the bills seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. It was enacted to provide for reservation in appointment and admission in professional institutions for the members of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and other socially and educationally backward classes.

The bill seeks to amend section 2 of the Reservation Act to change the nomenclature of "weak and underprivileged classes (social castes)" to "other backward classes" and make consequential amendments.

The other bill seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The Act amended the Second Schedule of the 1950 Act to specify the total number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

The proposed Bill increases the total number of assembly seats and reserves seven seats for Scheduled Castes and nine seats for Scheduled Tribes.

It seeks to insert new sections 15A and 15B in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 to nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of "Kashmiri Migrants" and one Member from "Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir", to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

The House began on the two bills on Tuesday. Twenty-nine members participated in the debate on the bills.

D N V Senthilkumar of DMK apologised in the Lok Sabha for his controversial remarks which had caused a political uproar. MPs from the ruling BJP demanded an apology and the House witnessed a brief adjournment during the Question Hour over the issue.

DMK member TR Baalu raised the issue of floods caused by Cyclone Michaung in Tamil Nadu and demanded that the Centre declare it as a national calamity.

He also said remarks made by Kumar were not correct and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had warned him. Kumar later expressed regret over the comment.

Nishikant Dubey of BJP said during zero hour in the Lok Sabha that demography in parts of Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal "was changing" due to infiltration by illegal immigrants. (ANI)

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