Srinagar, Nov 4: Lieutenant-Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha has said that leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are free to engage in political activity, “which these leaders are doing and the country is also watching, listening”.
“I acknowledge that some leaders of political parties were not free earlier, but there was a system of assessment under Principal Secretary, Home, which would review the matter and, as of now, I don’t think any major political leader is under detention. Our country is a free country and people are free to engage in political activity, which these leaders are doing and the country is also watching, listening,” he told The Hindu in an interview as per news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
In reply to a question that events of August 5, 2019 saw major leaders of political parties under detention and it is being said that this has finished off the middle ground in politics in Kashmir, he replied, “My priority, as far as I see, is the development of J&K, engaging the youth, and creating an environment for prosperity. Political parties, on their part, are free to engage in political activity, there is no proscription. It is up to them as to which direction they take. Much of it is unfortunate and we have to see how we can change that.”
He said, “I feel that those who have held Constitutional positions in the past should remember that they had once [been] sworn into office on the Indian Constitution. That maryada (decency) should be maintained. Secondly, many of this very set of people have gone before the Supreme Court on these and related matters, reposing full faith in the Indian judiciary and Constitutional system. Having done that, shouldn’t they wait for the court’s judgment? My second suggestion would be to remember that it is only in India that there is full freedom to say what you feel.”
On the recent amendments made to land-related laws in J&K, he said, “If some people want to misguide people, they can say what they want. The truth is that 90% of land in J&K is agricultural and no one from outside can buy it. The amendments did away with some older laws, some [that were] mutually contradictory, that had become redundant. For example, in an earlier law, a ceiling of 182 kanals had been fixed for private holding, after that it was amended to 100 kanals, [and] in 1976, these two provisions existed together. Secondly, there was an unfortunate law that required the government’s permission to plant orchards and harvest the fruit; now we have freed that. These were old agrarian laws, and to make a shift to a modern economy, we made some changes. We have selected 6,000 acres of land for an industrial park and other industries will also be facilitated. We want private enterprise and industry for creating more jobs for the youth in J&K.”
Asked if panchayat polls will be held with panchayat-level workers having been killed in the last few months, he said, “The polls will be notified in a day or two and some forces want to disrupt these processes. We are trying to ensure security for all. The situation is pretty much under control. There are some who want to block deepening of democracy, it will not be allowed to happen.”