A group of former lawmakers and political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir met Governor Girish Chandra Murmu here on Tuesday and submitted memorandum regarding socio-economic and political aspiration of people of the newly carved Union territory.
The development, which experts view as the beginning of the first-ever political process in the Union territory, come days after different political leaders were released from preventive detention in the region.
Key leaders including former minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, President Democratic Party Nationalist Ghulam Hassan Mir, Ex-MLC Zaffar Iqbal, former minister Mohammad Dilawar Mir, former MLA Javed Hassan Beig, former MLA Noor Mohammad Shiekh, former MLA Choudhary Qamar Hussain and former MLA Raja Manzoor Ahmad have put forward several demands, including restoration of statehood by submitting a memorandum to Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu.
In this first formal interaction with the Lieutenant Governor, the political leaders asserted that the life has almost returned to normal in the valley and there was a need to take certain steps as a major confidence-building measure and an outreach to the public.
Through memorandum submitted to the Governor, they have demanded the release of other detainees, withdrawing of cases against youth, restoration of internet services among others.
Political observers see it as a new force emerging in the valley which will help in generating political debates.
The leaders in their memorandum have stated that “although it is heartening Kashmir Valley remained peaceful and no fatalities were recorded due to enhanced security measures and other administrative efforts, but the credit must go to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who showed extreme maturity while registering their peaceful protest.”
The leaders also asserted that life has returned to normal in the valley and hence the process of shifting and releasing the detainees must start now.
“Now that life has almost returned to normal and all apprehensions regarding law and order subsided, it is a genuine demand that these detainees should be immediately shifted from the jails across the country to Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently released on priority basis”, the leaders said in their memorandum.
The group of politicians also outlined that it would be a great “Confidence Building Measure” if the cases of these PSA detainees are reviewed on compassionate and lenient grounds to facilitate their early release.
Noting that agriculture and horticulture sectors are the mainstay of the economy in J-K, they stated that though “packages” have been announced by the State and Central governments from time to time for the upliftment of these sectors, yet the “absence of a practicable mechanism to support the growers and farmers has been missing”.
“A special focus on the establishment and promotion of nurseries for rootstock and graft buds for the high-density trees. This is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision to double farm-level income by 2022 in India,” they said.
Talking of support for Industry and Manufacturing Sector, they said that the industrial and manufacturing sector is critical to the development of Jammu and Kashmir and an impetus on the same will lead to long term economic growth and increased private sector employment.
“Along with the planned Investors Summit in 2020, tangible policy measures must support the existing industries as well as the development of new units,” the memorandum submitted by the J-K leaders read.
The leaders also outlined the unemployment as a major issue that had fomented the trouble in the region.
“There is an immediate need to form a job policy in Jammu and Kashmir which should ensure respectful ways of earning for the jobless youth for which liberal economic support from the Centre is essential”, they stated.
The leaders said that the restoration of internet connectivity in all regions of the Union Territory needs to be looked into as a major confidence-building measure and an outreach to the public.
“This is also very important for the industrial economy, education, medical services, media, as well as a revival of the tourism sector in the Union Territory,” they stated.
Centre had in August last year announced the decision to abrogate Article 370 which gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It had also simultaneously announced the decision to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.