• PTI

Article 370 acted as protective shield for terrorists, helped dynastic politics in J&K: Naqvi

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) Article 370 of the Constitution was the root cause of all the problems in Jammu and Kashmir and the region is witnessing progress after its abrogation, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.


Article 370 used to act as a protective shield for terrorists and it also helped "dynastic and dishonest" politics in the erstwhile state, he said.


"Article 370 was the reason for the problems of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It was a protective shield for terrorists and helped dynastic and dishonest politics. Hence, it was required to be removed," Naqvi said while taking part in a discussion on the budget for the Union Territory.



Taking a dig at the Opposition members, he said, "People spoke more on the reviews of The Kashmir Files, the film, rather than on the budget of Jammu and Kashmir"."


The film has opened files that were buried and that contained the sins of some political families and parties, the minority affairs minister said.


Now, the ground realities are changing after the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and a 30-member delegation from Gulf countries is touring the Union Territory to look for opportunities to invest in real estate, telecommunications, agriculture etc., he added.


"This is a major change after the BJP removed Article 370," Naqvi said, adding, "Kashmir is now on the path of progress and prosperity."



He said the Kashmiri people were never against India's Constitution, but a handful of families indulging in dynastic politics were protecting Article 370.


"This dynastic politics and the legacy of dishonesty have been finished and as a result, Kashmir has a very positive and constructive environment today. Representatives from the Gulf are visiting the region now," Naqvi said.


Seven new medical colleges, five nursing colleges and an AIIMS are being set up in the Union Territory, he said, adding that people are getting electricity and tap water at their doorstep under schemes such as Har Ghar Nal Yojana.


"People are realising that they have come out of a labyrinth of terrorism," Naqvi said, adding that dynastic politics was playing an important role in strengthening the labyrinth.


Praising Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he said through the budget, the Centre is trying to extend benefits to Kashmiris.


On the remarks of some Opposition members that Parliament is discussing the budget of the Union Territory instead of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Naqvi said, "Earlier also, the budget was for Jammu and Kashmir but the money used to go from the Centre. This is not a new thing, whether it was your government or ours."



Moreover, earlier, the money sent by the Centre could never be audited because of Article 370, he pointed out.


"That robbery was 100 per cent exempted," he said.


Naqvi said improving the situation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is a collective responsibility.


"We all want the people of Jammu, Kashmir, Kargil and Leh to flow in the stream of progress and this has to be strengthened," he said.


Fauzia Khan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) hoped for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.


"Some concrete action should take place on this front," she said.


Khan also raised the issue of unemployment and said at the time of the District Development Council (DDC) polls, 70,000 jobs were promised.



"However, as on February 2, the rate of unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir was 15 per cent, which is much higher than the average of 6.5 to 7 per cent in the rest of the country," she said.


In the budget, there is a provision of Rs 23,060 crore for the social sector, of which 0.47 per cent is earmarked for labour and employment.


"What is the status of the promised jobs and what are the special interventions?" Khan asked.


Rajni Ashokrao Patil of the Congress said Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019 and the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir taken away, but even after three years and seven months, the situation there is not normal.


Citing a report on the economy of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, she said after some months, the Union Territory had lost Rs 178.78 billion and 90,000 jobs in the handicraft and tourism sector. The horticulture sector is in distress and tourism is in shambles. Moreover, the rural economy of Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a decline for the first time in 70 years, she pointed out.


While Sudhanshu Trivedi of the BJP said Kashmir was always projected and protected by the Opposition parties as a model of secularism, eventually, it had become a challenge to nationalism.


In 1976, when the word "secularism" was inserted into the Constitution through the 42nd amendment, it was not adopted in Jammu and Kashmir due to Article 370.


Khan also referred to an incident of August last year, where some tourists were trapped in adverse conditions in the higher ranges of Pir Panjal in Gulmarg and were rescued by policemen. Their service to humanity should be highlighted by the government but those policemen were rewarded with Rs 100 only, she said.


Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in Jammu and Kashmir, no rewards are given on the basis of sects and no discrimination is done in this regard.


There was a brief uproar in the House and several members, including Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, objected to Rai's remarks, questioning under what rules he spoke.