'Downgrading J&K from state to UT insult to its people'

Downgrading Jammu and Kashmir from state to Union Territory insult to its people: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah (L) and senior National Congress leader of opposition in Rajya Sahba (Council of States) Ghulam Nabi Azad (C) speak to media representatives outside Abdullah's residence, after his release, in Srianagar on March 14, 2020. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP)

Senior Congress leader and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that downgrading Jammu and Kashmir from state to Union Territory was an insult to the people of the erstwhile state.

Azad, who met the National Conference (NC) president and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar residence, here, in the afternoon, demanded the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The decision must be revoked and J&K should be declared a state again,” he told reporters after his two-hour-long meeting with Abdullah.

Abdullah, who was also present during the press briefing, didn’t talk to media persons, as he said that he spoke yesterday and will allow only Azad to speak.

“I know what difficulties you have faced,” Azad said while pointing towards Abdullah, adding that “keeping in view his age and health, putting Abdullah under detention was nothing but excess from the government.”

He said even when after the NC president’s release, they don’t know the reasons behind putting him under detention. “Detention is for those who violate the law and are involved in anti-national activities. But, in wake of abrogation of Article 370, many leaders irrespective of their affiliation with any party were put under detention,” the Congress leader said.

Azad said that if Jammu and Kashmir has to progress, then all political leaders under detention must be released. “The political process must begin in J&K and elections must be conducted in J&K following proper procedure,” he said. “With the initiation of the political process, the elections should also be held and those who will be elected by the people can make decisions regarding development in a better way.”

Several high profile political leaders in Kashmir including Farooq's son Omar and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti have been also put under arrest following the abrogation of Article 370 in August that granted special status to the region.

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