The Centre should conclude the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir by February and hold assembly polls immediately after the winter, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday.
Addressing a workers’ meeting in Devsar area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam, about 75 kms from Srinagar, Mr Azad also said it was not feasible to conduct polls during the next four months of winter.
“The next four months are not feasible for elections and even if they (Centre) wanted, we would have said no. We all had said in the all-party meet (called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June) that the statehood be restored first and then the delimitation be taken up.
“But, the government did not accept that. So, they should conclude the delimitation process till February and once the winter gets over, conduct the elections in April,” he told reporters.
The senior Congress leader said the priority was not who becomes the chief minister but how to restore the August 4, 2019 position in J-K.
“The priority is not about the chief minister, it is not the issue. The priority is how to restore the August 4, 2019 position… which will happen by restoring the statehood and then having the assembly elections,” he said.
Mr Azad said the demand for the restoration of the statehood was not Kashmir-centric.
“There is no fight on the statehood. Hindu brothers in Jammu, Sikhs, Muslims in Kashmir and even Pandits want statehood. No one should presume that only Kashmiris want the statehood, I have said it continuously and even in the all-party meet that even BJP leaders want statehood,” he said.
About the questions being raised over encounters conducted by the security forces, the Congress leader said the forces should take precautions in the civilian areas so that there are no civilian casualties.
He also appealed the politicians to visit the militancy-infested areas of the valley to encourage the people.
“There is militancy in three districts of Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama. They have witnessed militancy earlier also. This meeting was organised here after three years to encourage them, to boost their morale and so that they do not think they have no one.
“It is important that leaders should visit the areas where there is militancy. Whichever party they are, I will not go into it because the atmosphere in the state is not such that we talk against any party. I request all the political parties that rather than pointing fingers at other parties, they should try to create such an atmosphere in J-K so that people are assured that politics or elections can happen here,” he said.
Mr Azad said there is a need to create an atmosphere in the militancy-infested areas as people in such areas were “worried and have become disappointed”.
“There is one type of disappointment here where as there is another type in Jammu, Katra or Udhampur,” he said without elaborating further.