J-K: BJP celebrates 4th anniversary of Article 370 abrogation, Cong, PDP stage protest

J-K: BJP celebrates 4th anniversary of Article 370 abrogation, Cong, PDP stage protest

Srinagar/Jammu: The BJP on Saturday celebrated the fourth anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 by holding a public meeting in Srinagar, while...

Srinagar/Jammu: The BJP on Saturday celebrated the fourth anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 by holding a public meeting in Srinagar, while its rivals staged protests, with the Congress calling it a "black day".

The Centre on this day in 2019 had revoked Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Several leaders and workers of the BJP's Jammu and Kashmir unit, led by general secretary organisation, J-K, Ashok Koul, participated in the meeting at Jawahar Nagar. This programme was held to open the eyes of those leaders who are trying to "provoke" the people in the name of Article 370, party spokesperson Thakur Abhijeet Jasrotia told reporters in Srinagar. "These leaders are propagating lies, but the common people and the poor want development...

Today, people have risen above dynastic politics, and they do not want any Abdullah or Mufti to befool them," he said in an apparent reference to National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supremo Mehbooba Mufti. During the meeting, BJP leaders highlighted the changes in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre's 2019 decision, with Jasrotia saying there used to be shutdowns for the most part of the year in the Kashmir Valley, but now, there are no strikes. In Jammu, the Congress, the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the PDP staged separate protests to mark the day. Congress members led by the party's J-K chief, Vikar Rasool Wani, held a peaceful demonstration outside the party's headquarters at Shaheedi Chowk, demanding restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, protection of land rights and 100 per cent reservation for locals in jobs. "We are observing August 5 as 'black day' since the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of our state into UTs (union territories) in 2019...we demand immediate restoration of statehood along with state subject laws," Wani told reporters.

Slamming the BJP government at the Centre, he alleged that all its promises have fallen flat. "There is no change in Jammu and Kashmir, contrary to the claims of the BJP which had talked about industrial investment, prosperity, and model state. The reality is that the people are suffering due to economic distress and high inflation while our health and education sectors are in shambles," the J-K Congress president said. He accused the central government of misleading people across the country on the abrogation of the article. "Jammu and Kashmir has always been a part of India and will remain so," Wani said Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Manish Sahni led a protest outside the party's office at Channi Himmat in Jammu. He alleged that after four years, "the situation in the region has deteriorated to the extent that youngsters are desperate for jobs, Pakistan-sponsored narco-terrorism is ruining lives, and Kashmiri migrant pandits are still waiting for their return and rehabilitation".

Sahni also demanded restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir. People are feeling cheated and helpless due to the "anti-people policies and decisions" of the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration, he alleged. Members of the PDP staged a protest at the party's headquarters at Gandhi Nagar in Jammu. They tried to hit the streets, but were stopped by police. "The Supreme Court is hearing petitions against abrogation of Article 370 but our protest is to highlight the curbs which have been put in place on the PDP leadership, including Mehbooba Mufti, and at the party headquarters. Democracy is being strangled," PDP spokesperson Varinder Singh Sonu said. Earlier in the day, Mehbooba claimed she and some senior PDP leaders were placed under house arrest while several others were detained on the fourth anniversary of the article's abrogation. When asked about the PDP's claim that most of its leaders were either detained or put under house arrest, BJP spokesperson Jasrotia in Srinagar said, that party only spreads lies. "No one was denied permission, no one has been detained.

They do not have any public support so how could they have held a rally? They have lost ground," he said. The PDP had claimed on Friday that the Srinagar administration denied the party permission to hold an event on the fourth anniversary of the 2019 decision and a "massive crackdown" was carried out against its leaders during the night. BJP leader Koul said Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a lot of changes post-2019. "Kashmir has changed, stone pelting has ended, separatism has ended.

International events have taken place here. There has been a record number of tourist arrivals," he said. On the PDP's claim, Koul said he does not know about the issue and only the administration can answer. But, what would have the PDP done by getting permission for the event, he asked and said "they would have provoked people which could have caused more problems". Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) president and former minister Lal Singh termed the day as the "worst day" of Jammu and Kashmir, and accused the BJP of deceiving people. West Pakistani refugees, Gurkhas and Valmiki Samaj members took to streets in Jammu and Samba districts and celebrated the fourth anniversary of the article's abrogation, saying it facilitated them to get citizenship of Jammu and Kashmir after a long wait of several decades.

"We got real freedom four years ago, otherwise we were living like slaves in J-K. Now, we are the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, and have all rights, including voting to choose our representatives, own land and ensure our children get higher education," West Pakistani refugees' leader Laba Ram Gandhi said.

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