Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday asserted that the Modi government has zero tolerance for terrorism and is committed towards development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah, while replying to a debate in Rajya Sabha on a statutory resolution to extend President's rule in J-K by six months, reiterated that the state is an integral part of India and no one can separate it from the country.
The home minister stated that the Modi government is following a policy to protect the sanctity of Kashmiri tradition, humanity and peace.
"We reopened schools, provided cooking gas, built toilets, provided electricity during President's rule in J-K," Shah said.
Attacking hardline elements in the state, Shah asked who threw out Kashmiri pandits, Sufi traditions from the Valley.
"Were they not part of Kashmiri tradition?" the home minister asked.
He said that the central government's approach is clear towards dealing with milltancy in the Valley.
"Our approach is clear, those who talk of breaking India we will respond to them in the same language," Shah said.
On use of Article 356 to impose President's rule in the state, the minister said he agrees with the spirit to minimise the use of the Constitutional provision.
Shah said democracy in the state should not be restricted to three families.
He also attacked Congress of misusing the Article 356 by invoking the constitutional provision to dismiss state governments led by rival parties in the past.
Shah said assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state could not happen simultaneously because security to all candidates could not be given.
"Security agencies had expressed inability to provide security to candidates for holding Lok Sabha, assembly polls together," he added.
Shah said the government will not delay elections in the state even for a day the moment Election Commission agrees to hold polls.
On forming government in J-K with the People's Democratic Party, he said 'it was not our decision but a result of fractured mandate'.
The BJP snapped ties with PDP when it realised that separatism was being encouraged, Shah said.
He added that the government does not want to mislead people on Jawaharlal Nehru but lessons have to be learnt from historical blunders.
"All Kashmir problems are due to Nehru declaring ceasefire when one-third of Kashmir was with Pakistan," he added.
The statutory resolution to extend President rule in J-K by six months was passed by Rajya Sabha after Shah's reply.
Earlier, Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government to hold early assembly elections in J-K, while accusing it of running the state government from capital under the garb of President's rule.
"Stop running the government from Delhi. Holding elections in the state would be the greatest confidence building measure," he said,
The Congress leader also sought doubling reservation for people living in border areas to 6 per cent from the proposed 3 per cent.
The statutory resolution on extending President's Rule by another six months with effect from July 3, 2019 was approved by Lok Sabha on Friday.
"After assessing the current situation, including security and religious activities, the Election Commission has decided to hold election in Jammu and Kashmir towards the end of this year. The government did not have any option but to bring this resolution," Shah said in the Upper House.
He hoped that the House will understand the circumstances and support the resolution.
With the opposition questioning the delay in holding assembly polls, Shah said assembly elections were never conducted in the past in the state during the month of Ramzan, which was from May 7 to June 4 this year.
He also cited the Amarnath Yatra from June 30 to August 15 and said the Bakarwal community also moves to higher reaches during this time and returns only in October.
J-K Governor Satypal Malik had on November 21, 2018 dissolved the 87-member assembly citing apprehensions of horse trading and lack of credible alternative for government formation.
On December 20, 2018 President's Rule was imposed. The home minister on Monday also moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.
People living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in professional courses on a par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC).
The minister said that reservation will benefit about 3.5 lakh people living in 435 villages of the three districts -- Kathua, Samba and Jammu.
People living along the international border were affected because of unprovoked shelling from across the border.
"They had to live in bunkers. Children education gets affected".
There is a feeling among people of these three districts that their interests have been ignored, Shah said, adding that the government had to bring an Ordinance to correct this anomaly and provide reservation to them as well.
The amendment bill has already got approval of Lok Sabha.
The bill once passed by Parliament will amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 to bring persons residing in areas adjoining the IB within the ambit of reservation, on a par with those living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Contro (ALoC).
People living in areas adjoining the IB in Jammu and Kashmir were not included in the ambit of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 and Rules, 2005.
The rules provided for reservation in direct recruitment, promotions and admission in different professional courses to various categories.
Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP-led central government of 'betraying' the people of Jammu and Kashmir by imposing President's Rule in the state and demanded early assembly elections there.
Initiating the debate on statutory resolution to extend President's Rule, Congress member Viplove Thakur questioned why assembly elections were not held in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls.
She also charged that the Centre was only citing Amarnath Yatra and other religious activities as an excuse for not conducting election.
"Why can't you clearly say that 'our motive has not been fulfilled'," she said.
"People of J-K want to join mainstream," Thakur said, and asked the Centre to hold early elections in the state.
The Congress member alleged that the Centre was misleading the people of J-K as well as the House by saying that no party was in a position to form government in the state.
"Keep the democracy alive. Do not divide Jammu and Kashmir. Preserve unity of this country," she urged.
Rakesh Sinha (nominated) said the issue is of national importance and should not be seen through a political prism.
Countering Thakur, he said if the Congress had valued democracy, situation in J-K would have been different.
Sinha refuted the charge of creating division between Jammu and Kashmir, and said the BJP-led central government believes in 'one people, one nation'.
He accused the Congress of doing politics of polarisation in the state.
Sinha also charged that Jammu was not given due representation in the state and cited the less number of assembly and parliamentary seats from the region despite having larger population and area than Kashmir.
He also spoke about 'injustice' to people belonging to Valmiki community in government jobs.
The bills to extend President's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir and to provide reservation for people living along international border were taken up jointly for debate by the Upper House.
The statutory resolution on extending President's rule by another six months with effect from July 3, 2019 and Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 were approved by Lok Sabha on Friday.
Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party) said that the President's rule was imposed in a hurry and efforts should have been made to form an alternative government.
Yadav said the BJP made a mistake in supporting the People's Democratic Party in forming the government in the state.
He said the BJP-PDP coalition was 'unnatural and bound to fail' and, in lighter vein, equated it with his party's recent alliance with the Bahjujan Samaj Party in the general elections.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member S R Balasubramaniam said there should be central rule till election is held in the state. However, he questioned why assembly polls were not held with the general elections.
Communist Party of India D Raja criticised the government for taking the Ordinance route on reservation issue and favoured referring bills to Standing Committee or Select Committee.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien also questioned why assembly elections were not held along with Lok Sabha polls when the the Prime Minister himself favours 'one nation, one election'.
He also charged the central government with resorting to ordinance route frequently and said it should come down.
Talking about federalism, the TMC leader accused the central government of not co-operating with the West Bengal government.
Through NRC, he alleged, the central government was 'targeting Indian citizens... some of our Bangla speaking Hindus'.
His frequent reference to West Bengal led the Chair to remind him that the debate was on issues related to Jammu and Kashmir.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders K K Ragesh alleged that the government wanted to divide people on communal lines for its petty politics and opposed both the bills.
"Alienation will not help to deal with the problem of terrorism in the state. If you can conducts the Lok Sabha elections in state then why cannot the state elections be held simultaneously," he said.
He claimed that instances of terror attacks, ceasefire violations, civilians and security personnel causalities and youth joining terrorisms in the state had increased during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance rule from 2014 to 2019.
Supporting both the bills, Prasanna Acharya (BJP) said, "We cannot go on discriminating... But my only concern is that whether the bill (on reservation) approved by Parliament would be ratified later by elected state government."
Supporting the bill, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (Janata Dal-United), Manoj Jha (Rashrtiya Janata Dal), Swapan Dasgupta (nominated) and Nazir Ahmed Laway (J&K PDP) also participated in the discussion.
War of words over Jana Sangh founder Mookerjee
The Rajya Sabha witnessed a war of words between BJP's Bhupender Yadav and Congress leader Anand Sharma over the latter's remarks accusing Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee of striking a compromise with Muslim League in 1942 to become Bengal deputy chief minister.
The BJP leader alleged that Sharma had distorted historical facts with an ill-intention.
"He (Sharma) had said that when Mookerjee became deputy chief minister of Bengal (after Independence) it was after he reached a compromise with the Muslim League. I would like to correct this for the record. The compromise reached in Bengal was with Fazlul Haq's Krishak Praja Party," Yadav said.
Defending his remarks, Sharma said in 1942, when the Quit India Movement took place, a resolution was passed by Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha to oppose it.
"The Congress governments had quit in provinces. In Punjab and Bengal, proposal was given to Viceroy to form alternative governments.
"The government formed in Bengal had Mookerjee as deputy chief minister and Rehman as chief minister. They had written to the Viceroy to crush the Quit India Movement terming it a revolt against Her Majesty," Sharma alleged.
Mookerjee was the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the BJP's predecessor party.
Republican Party of India-Athawale leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale called for renaming Jammu and Kashmir as Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
"Kashmir has a majority Muslim society whereas Jammu has Hindu majority society and Ladakh Buddhist majority society. But the name is only Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, I appeal to our Home Minister not to segregate our Bahujan society and suggest him to consider for renaming the state to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh," Athawale said.
J-K Governor Satypal Malik had on November 21, 2018 dissolved the 87-member assembly citing apprehensions of horse trading and lack of credible alternative for government formation. On December 20, 2018 President's rule was imposed.
The home minister on Monday also moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.
PDP member Mir Mohammad Fayaz said 'Kashmir is burning' and the people of the state want dialogue.
He wondered 'what is the fault of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir if false promises were made to them by the party that ruled India for 70 years'.
During the debate, T K S Elangovan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam alleged the BJP-led government at the Centre wanted to rule the state directly by extending President's rule and termed it against democracy.
Shamsher Singh Mahas of the BJP said things would have been different had Mufti Mohammand Sayeed been alive.
Surendra Singh Nagar of the Samajwadi Party said, "We have no option but to support the extension of President's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir as the deadline is expiring tomorrow."
He said assembly polls in the state should be held at the earliest.
Vijila Sathyananth of the AIADMK said the Governor's rule was necessary in Jammu and Kashmir after the mess it had witnessed and expressed confidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would lead the way for a transformative solution to its problems.
Under Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, people living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in professional courses on a par with those living along the Actual Line of Control.