Three Parliamentary Committees visit J&K in 10 days
Amid growing demands for the restoration of Statehood for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh have been visited by members of as many as three Parliamentary Committees in the past 10 days.
These visits by Parliamentary panels not only come two years after the bifurcation of J&K and the removal of its special status under Article 370, but barely two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met 14 leaders from J&K, including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and others, in June.
And all three panels that visited J&K between August 14 and August 22 are headed by leaders of the Congress that had opposed the manner in which the J&K’s special status was abrogated.
Next month, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor-headed the Standing Committee on Information Technology, too, is likely to visit J&K.
On Sunday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, wrapped up its six-day visit to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
The delegation is said to have received representation from different groups on restoring statehood for J&K at the earliest.
Before the panel on Home Affairs, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, too, visited Srinagar and Kargil in J&K, and Leh in Ladakh, to examine the issue of protective clothing for troops stationed at high altitudes.
Members of the PAC discussed various aspects of security by visiting the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and the Leh-based 14 Corps of the Indian Army. In fact, Mr. Chowdhury unfurled the tri-colour on August 15 at Kargil along with Indian troops.
Another panel that visited Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg around the same time is the Committee on Sub-ordinate Legislation, headed by Congress’ Partap Singh Bajwa, to study waste management, rejuvenation of water bodies like the Dal Lake, and lending by banks to priority sectors, among other issues.
However, the Parliamentary panel on Home had the largest number of interactions across three regions — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh — as the Committee is mandated to review the working of the Union Territories.
On its first visit to J&K after it was made a Union Territory, the Committee on Home Affairs met industry associations, hoteliers, houseboat owners, transporters, carpet weavers, horticulturists, saffron and apple growers, and start-up promoters.
Associations are said to have argued that in addition to COVID-19 in the past two years, their businesses had “suffered” in 2019 as well because of “prolonged clampdown” in the aftermath of removing J&K’s special status under Article 370.
Industry representatives pointed out that while a new economic package announced by the Centre for J&K would benefit new industries, the existing ones, mostly in the Jammu region, wouldn’t gain.
The high cost of credit and increase in unemployment are other economic problems that are said to have emerged during the Parliamentary Committee’s discussions.
“We met a cross-section of people, including elected representatives, and Block Development and District Development Councils. Our committee listened to the issues/problems raised by the stakeholders,” Mr. Sharma told The Puucho.
Asked about the demand for early restoration of Statehood, Mr. Sharma said, “Our committee’s report will reflect the views of the stakeholders.”
The Committee on Home Affairs reviewed security aspects with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Central Reserve Police Force in Srinagar, and visited areas affected by cross-border shelling before the ongoing ceasefire with Pakistan.