People in Valley demand restoration of Article 370 and J&K statehood: Nazir Ahmad Laway

My constituency is deprived of benefits promised by Centre, says PDP MP thrown out of RS for tearing down copy of Constitution

A year after he was thrown out of the Rajya Sabha for tearing a copy of the Constitution, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) parliamentarian Nazir Ahmad Laway says people in his constituency are still deprived of development, employment and other benefits promised by the Centre.

Mr. Laway and Mir Momammad Fayaz, the two MPs from Kashmir Valley representing the PDP in the Rajya Sabha, were marshalled out of the House on August 5, 2019 when Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills to revoke the special status of J&K and downsize the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

The duo had stormed into the well of the House in protest against the move. They were heckled by the BJP MPs who also rushed to the well after the copy of the Constitution was torn and flung in the air.

No political activity

Mr. Laway said there was no political activity in the Valley and people tuned up at his house to air their grievances.

“Every day I meet 400-500 people in my constituency…..none of the representatives of any other political party venture out,” he said on phone from Kulgam. He said he lives in government accommodation after his house in Kulgam in South Kashmir was burnt down in 2016.

“Wherever I go, people demand that Article 370 and J&K statehood be restored ….they say they should see development as promised,” he said.

J&K has been under Central rule since June 2018 after the BJP-PDP alliance broke down. Since the 87-member Assembly was dissolved in November 2018, elections have not been held.

He said he was seeking a solution within the framework of democracy. “We have to bring change by being a part of the system,” he said.

He said since his party leader and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was still in jail, he and Mr. Fayaz were not sure about their future.

Mark of protest

“Last year I saw some announcement on TV and newspaper that I have been expelled from the party. I have received no letter so far to the effect…we were asked to resign. I asked them the point of resigning” he said adding that he was asked by some to resign as a mark of protest against Centre’s move on Article 370.

He said the Kashmir Valley was a small place, not more than the size of Delhi, and they were fearful of outsiders settling there.

“Recently they came up with a domicile law for government jobs. If they open purchase of land to outsiders then where will we go? We demand that the land laws as agreed to by the Maharaja of Kashmir should be implemented.”

J&K had its own land acquisition Act enacted in 1935 and with the revocation of the special status the Right to Fair Compensation Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 is now applicable in the newly created UT ensuring four times compensation.

However, private land could also be acquired through the Central land acquisition Act.

Home Minister Amit Shah had told a delegation from J&K last year that “only government land would be used to establish industries, hospitals and educational institutions” and “nobody’s land would be taken away”.

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