Kashmiri Pandit body demands restoration of special status and statehood to J-K

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Srinagar: A migrant Kashmiri Pandits organization has asked the government of India to restore the statehood and special status for Jammu and Kashmir

The Reconciliation, Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrant Kashmiri Pandits Monday demanded the immediate restoration of statehood and special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement issued here, the Pandit body said, “The Indian constitution ensures right to equality that extends to individuals, communities, religions, regions and all social and political institutions. The right to equality does not only ensure non-discrimination on basis of the religion, caste, region or any other social and political sub- categories,

Never before a state has been downgraded. This is not done in a democracy. One can’t have a military solution to a political situation and can’t go to war with their own people. Honorable prime minister, honorable Home minister, honorable parliamentarians, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are your own people, love them and as a good gesture confer special status to Jammu and Kashmir . The representatives/parliamentarians are for the people, by the people and they need to understand the aspiration and the wishes of the people,” the statement reads.

Adding that the special provisions should be to safeguard the interest and aspirations of the backward regions, to protect cultural and economic interests of the people, safeguarding the minorities and to deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts of the state.

“It is not that J-K was the only state with special status. Other states too enjoy special category status. These are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand. A wide range of provisions are available to these 10 states that have been listed under Articles 371, 371-A to 371-H, and 371,” the statement points out.

The body has demanded that a special category status be granted to JK immediately on the basis of:
• sizeable share of tribal population
• strategic international borders
• Economic and infrastructural backwardness
• Non-viable nature of state finances
• To deal with the disturbed law and order in some parts of j&K state
• discriminated minorities in Kashmir.

• Confer J&K with special category status with following features:
1. The central government should bear 90 percent of the state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while the rest 10 percent should be given as loan to the state at zero percent rate of interest.
2. J&L should get Preferential treatment in getting central funds.
3. Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state.
4. 30 percent of the Centre’s gross budget should be also given to J&K as conferred to other states
5. The state should avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.
6. J&K state with special category status should be exempted from customs duty, corporate tax, income tax and other taxes to attract investment.
7. J-K state should also have the facility that if they have unspent money in a financial year; it does not lapse and gets carried forward for the next financial year
8 Special status should be conferred to Kashmiri Pandits. Since they are a cultural and religious minority within the state, the special status should be enacted within the provision of the constitution. It is the responsibility of the state and the central government to protect the ancient culture and a particular race.

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