Massive uproar over Pak bid to give Gilgit, Baltistan to China

Massive uproar over Pak bid to give Gilgit, Baltistan to China

20 March 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The issue of Pakistan giving Gilgit and Baltistan, two strategic areas of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), which were legally and Constitutionally the part of India, to China on lease for a period of 30 years, rocked the Legislative Assembly this morning leading to disruption of Question Hour for about 20 minutes with members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nationalist Panthers Party (NPP) and Jammu State Morcha (JSM) demanding liberation of PoK before staging a walk-out in the House. As soon as proceedings of the House began for the day, all BJP, NPP and JSM MLAs were on their feet shouting slogans against Pakistan, demanding immediate liberation of PoK and implementation of 1994 Parliament resolution on PoK, which stated that it was an integral part of India. The PDP MLAs were also agitating demanding compensation for damages caused by heavy windstorm in the Kashmir valley overnight while NPP legislators maintained heat on twin issues including PoK and delay in sanction of relief funds for Udhampur and Samba, the two districts from where three NPP MLAs belonged. On its part, the Government described the issue of PoK as 'very sensitive’’ but said it pertained to the Government of India and it wouldn’t be appropriate for the State to comment on it. BJP MLAs-Ashok Khajuria, Jugal Kishore, Sham Choudhary and Sukhnandan Choudhary, NPP legislators-Harshdev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal and lone JSM legislator Ashwani Sharma were on their feet over media reports that Pakistan has decided to give strategic PoK areas of Gilgit and Baltistan to China on lease for a period of 30 years. 'Already, Pakistan has given Aksai Chin, the part of PoK to China, where Karakoram National Highway has been constructed. Aksai Chin was our area, which has illegally been acceded to China by Pakistan. Now, they want to give Baltistan and Gilgit also to China, which were also legally and Constitutionally the part of India. The Government should take up the issue with the Centre and seek intervention to prevent Pakistan from giving parts of India on lease to China, which was becoming a potential threat for India’’, Harshdev Singh said. BJP City East MLA Ashok Khajuria said there had been media reports that Pakistan was going to give parts of ‘Ghulam Kashmir’ (PoK) to China, which would become a threat for India. Pointing out that there had been a resolution of Parliament adopted in 1994 that PoK was part of India, he said PoK should be freed from Pakistan. Another BJP MLA, Jugal Kishore Sharma described the issue of Pakistan trying to give Gilgit and Baltistan to China on lease as 'very serious and sensitive’’ and wanted the State Government to immediately take up the issue with the Government of India. Amidst protest, the BJP and JSM MLAs started slogan shouting in the House including 'Azaad Karayo Azaad Karayo, PoK Ko Azaad Karayo’’, 'Pakistan Ki Goondagardi, Naheen Chalegi Naheen Chalegi’’, 'Pakistan Ki Dadagiri, Naheen Chalegi Naheen Chalegi’’ and 'Gungi Bahri Sarkaar, Hai Hai Hai Hai’’. The BJP, NPP and JSM MLAs, who were on their feet demanded that the House should pass a resolution denouncing Pakistan’s move to give Gilgit and Baltistan on lease to China and urge the Union Government to take all measures to prevent the Pakistan Government’s decision. While the BJP and JSM MLAs continued protest, the NPP MLAs staged a walk-out. JSM MLA Ashwani Sharma wanted to know why the treasury benches were silent over such a serious issue. 'The Government is sleeping’’, he remarked After over 20 minutes of continued protests during which the Question Hour proceedings were completely disrupted, the BJP and JSM MLAs also walked-out of the House shouting slogans against Pakistan Government and the State Government. Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather described the issue raised by BJP, NPP and JSM MLAs as 'very sensitive’’ but said it pertained to the Government of India and it wouldn’t be fit for him to comment on the subject. While agitating on PoK issue, all three NPP MLAs-Harshdev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal also protested over denial of funds for natural calamities and other areas in Jammu especially Udhampur and Samba districts. 'Udhampur, Samba Kay Khilaaf Saajish, Bandh Karo Bandh Karo’’ and 'Relief Ka Paisa, Udhampur Samba Kay Illakon Ko Do’’, the NPP legislators shouted as all of them trooped into Well of the House and staged a dharna there for a brief period. They said the relief amount for Udhampur and Samba districts has not been released so far. The people for whom relief has been approved and sanctioned were suffering for want of the funds, they added. After sometime, Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni, who was in the Chair, requested the NPP legislators to lift their dharna from Well of the House with the assurance that he would seek a statement from the Government. The NPP members lifted their dharna and returned to their seats. While BJP, NPP and JSM MLAs were agitating on different issues at the start of Question Hour including PoK and discrimination in relief funds with Udhampur and Samba districts, almost all PDP MLAs were on their feet saying that last night’s windstorm, which was still continuing, has caused extensive damage to houses. A number of National Conference and Congress MLAs also joined the issue. PDP MLA Abdul Rehman Veeri said heavy windstorm has caused immense losses to property and crops. The Government should direct the administration to make an assessment of the situation and sanction relief in favour of the affected people, he added. CPM legislator MY Tarigami said the entire House was concerned over losses caused by the windstorm. More losses could take place as the storm has not stopped, he added and urged the Chair to issue a direction to the Government to take the House into confidence on the situation and render all necessary help to the people. PDP MLA Peer Mansoor Shah said his house has also suffered damage. He added that many houses across the Valley have been damaged. The Government should assess the losses and compensate the people, he asserted. Another PDP legislator Basharat Bukhari also called for immediate relief to the people affected by the storm. NC and Congress members including Saifullah Mir, Nazir Gurezi, Aijaz Jan and Ghulam Mohammad Saroori among others also called for assessment of damage caused by the windstorm and immediate compensation to the people. Responding to concerns expressed by the members, Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni asked the Government to reach out to the people. He said the Government should direct all District Development Commissioners (DDCs) to go to the spot and make assessment of the situation. He asked the Government to make a statement in the House tomorrow on steps taken to provide relief to the people. Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla said a direction has already been issued for assessment of losses. He also referred to the concerns on delay in relief funds expressed by the NPP MLAs and assured them that no discrimination would be done with any district. He added that relief money would be given as per norms.