Jammu, Sep 10: Nearly 20 delegations today met former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh headed high level Congress Policy and Planning Group of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs and apprised him of Article 35A and Rohingaya issues.
A Group headed by Dr Singh arrived here this afternoon to meet different sections of society during two days tour.
“Around 20 delegations today met Dr Singh headed Policy and Panning Group on the first leg of the visit,” party insiders here said.
They said that besides concerns of basic amenities, Kashmir dispute, security, issues of Article 35-A and Rohingaya remained highlights during interactions.
“The delegation members while interacting with the former Prime Minister, apprised him of pros and cons of Article 35A visi-a-vis illegal settlement of Rohingyas in Jammu, which they said was one of the most concerning in the present scenario,” party sources added.
They also suggested, advised and discussed functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir Congress Party at the grass-root level.
Sources further said, “the delegates also discussed the prevailing political scenario and of the state and the working of the ruling PDP-BJP led government.”
The NC’s provincial president, Devender Singh Rana, who led the party delegation in the meeting, said that J-K was going through a crucial phase and it was the responsibility of everyone to come forward and join hands to restore peace and normalcy.
“We told the Congress leadership that National Conference is for the betterment of the people of the state and is desirous of peace and prosperity in the state,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Suggesting the Congress to take a stand on J-K, Rana said the onus lies with the present leadership of the party to emerge and cooperate, coordinate and implement together an agenda at the national level by developing a consensus to ensure that normalcy is restored in the state.
“Not only the Congress, every political party must close their ranks and join hands to practically implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on Independence Day function to embrace the people of Kashmir so that peace is restored in the state,” he said.
He also termed as “unfortunate” the “failure” of the previous UPA government to implement the recommendations of the working groups on Kashmir and the interlocutors’ report and said the party should extend its support to the ruling NDA at the Centre to work out a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio.
Rana said the NC would go all out to preserve Article 35A of the Constitution as it is of paramount importance for the people of the state.
Regional Secretary of state unit of CPI(M) Sham Prasad Kaiser also favoured continuation of the Article 35A and article 370 of the Constitution and said any tinkering with the provisions will have disastrous consequences in the already deteriorated situation in the state.
“The Congress panel has basically come to seek a solution to the prevailing situation in the state… We suggested dialogue on internal and external fronts to resolve the Kashmir issue instead of using military power,” he said.
Prasad said he favoured dialogue with all stakeholders, especially separatists, in the state and Pakistan as well. The Jammu Bar Association, led by president B S Slathia, submitted a five-page memorandum to the Congress panel, demanding among other things abrogation of the Article 35A.
“Article 35A is against the very spirit of the Indian constitution of 1950 and the preamble of J-K Constitution of 1957 … It deprives all the Indians living outside the state of their right to exercise any right in the state, thus creating a situation in which they are considered a persona non grata in Jammu and Kashmir,” the memorandum said.
It said the Article has deprived nearly two lakh refugees from Pakistan all citizenship rights in the state and makes unjust distinction between male and female residents of the state.
It also raised the issue of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals in Jammu and Samba districts and claimed their presence tantamount to demographic change in the region and advocated for their early deportation.
President of Dogri Sanstha, Jammu, Chhatrapal alleged that the people of Jammu have always received “raw treatment” by both state and central governments and have been taken for granted.
“The Dogri language, which is our identity, must get its due at par with Kashmiri as both the languages enjoy equal status in the Constitution of the country and the state,” he said.
The panel would visit Kashmir Valley on September 16 and 17 and the Ladakh region on a later date.
A Kashmiri Pandit delegation raised the issue of their return to the valley.
Meanwhile Dr Singh had a detailed review from the delegates during interactions and ensured that their concerns will be discussed with the high command for further action accordingly.
The group was comprised of Former Home Minister P Chidambaram, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni besides representatives of party from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in the group including party president G A Mir, former ministers Sham Lal Sharma, Nawang Rigzin Jora and Tariq Hamid Qarra.
Earlier the group also interacted with the senior party leaders in the executive meeting.
The delegations met Dr Singh included Bar Association, Delegation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Delegation of Pahari, Delegation of Dogri Sanstha, Delegation of Ex-Servicemen, Delegation of SCs, STs & OBCs, Delegation of Minority, Delegation of Women, Delegation of Mainstream Opposition Parties, Delegation of Displaced Persons of 1947,65, 71, Delegation of Kashmiri Migrants, Delegation of Kisan and Border Resident’s, Delegation of Erstwhile Doda District, Delegation of Intellectuals Group and a Delegation of journalists.
“The delegation will fly back to Delhi tomorrow morning,” said the party spokesman adding that next week the group shall visit Kashmir to have exercise of interaction.