Congress promises more autonomy to J&K
6 September 2002
Jammu: The Congress Party, in its manifesto for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, released on Friday, promised greater autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. The manifesto released by PCC chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, who himself sits in the Rajya Sabha with the support of the NC, listed the first point that in case the Congress is elected to power: It would ''initiate and complete a dialogue with the Central Government to evolve a package for greater and meaningful autonomy which meets the legitimate aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and is consistent with the Constitution of India.'' The party has also promised to ''establish regional development boards for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - to remove the regional imbalances, prepare reports and plans for implementation so that disparities in the political, financial, developmental and administrative fields are redressed and the backlog of previous tasks is fulfiled within six years.'' These boards will be given statutory status. The party in its manifesto promises to launch a ''special campaign'' to bring back to the State Kashmiri Pandits, other communities and the families who have been driven out since 1990. It says that efforts would be made to restore their dignity and security in ''safe zones''. The party wants to set up a police reforms commission to prepare plan for ''making the police system more effective and humane.'' It has also promised to set up a State finance commission to ensure that adequate resources are provided to all three regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - for balanced development and to ensure that the backlog of development and employment at the regional and the district level is met within a specified time-frame. This Commission will be given statutory status. It says that it would provide alternative land to those families who have been living close to the line of Control (LoC) and the International Border and who are within the firing range of Pakistan. The manifesto, however, strongly rejects the demand for the trifurcation of the State proposed by RSS. ''This goes against the multi-religious heritage of Jammu and Kashmir,'' it says. The manifesto goes on to promise better education and health facilities, old age pensions etc.