Says ready for elections anytime now, but call will have to be taken by ECI
Srinagar, Aug 31 : As hearing of Article 370 case began on Thursday, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that it was unable to give the exact details about when the Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir would be restored and that it will take some time, but it is progressing.
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Centre in the case told the top court that so far as statehood is concerned, he has already made a statement but he is unable to give an exact timeline right now about complete statehood and that UT status is a temporary status.
He said that those actions (to restore statehood to J&K) are initiated. “I may give some instances how it is progressing to become a state. Because I’m unable to give exact details,” Mehta told the Supreme Court.
Giving instances of some central schemes being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, he said that the central sector scheme investment is 28400 crores. “The investment proposals for other than central schemes is 78000 crores. Till date, the actual investment made is 2153 crores.”
He added that several e-initiatives have taken place and as a result of that, the transperancy has shown that the projects have risen from 9229 in 2018 to 92580 now.
“More people are participating in e-tendering etc. Youth is gainfully employed. Policing alone can’t do it, several initiatives are introduced…out of 53 projects under the Prime minister development package, worth 58477 crores, out of 53, 32 are completed,” SG said.
He said that this is how they are proceeding to make it a complete state. “But I’m unable to give an exact timeline period right now about complete statehood. UT status is a temporary status.”
He also said that only in 2022- January to December 2022, 1.88 crores tourist visited Jammu and Kashmir. “These are the steps taken by union government and these steps can be taken only if it is a union territory.”
On the question of elections, Mehta said that the government is ready for elections, but it is for the Election Commission of India and Election Commission of State to take the call, which election will take first and how.
“Updating of the voter’s list is complete. Some part is missing it’s in the process. It’ll be over soon. The central government is ready for elections at any time. Till date updating of the voters list was going on- which is substantially over. Some part is remaining- that the Election Commission is doing.”
Mehta also said that there are three elections which are due. “For the first time, the three tier panchayat raj system is introduced. First elections would be for panchayats. District development council elections have already taken place.”
Mehta said that Leh elections are over, while Kargil hill development council would be held by the end of this month. “Then there would be municipality elections and then there would be legislative assembly elections. It is a UT with legislature- except law and order and police they have.”
He also said that the terrorist initiated instances are reduced by 45.2%. “I’m comparing 2018 situation with 2023 situation. Infiltration has been reduced by 90.2%. Law and order events- stone pelting etc reduced by 97.2%. These figures are all relevant for purpose of when to hold the elections. Security person casualty is reduced by 65.9%. These are the factors agencies would take into consideration.”
He added that what affected the elections most was stone pelting and regular calls of bandh and hartals- hospitals, schools, every institution a common man is concerned with.
“In 2018, the stone pelting was 1767. It is nil (now), not just because of effective policing but because of various steps such as gainfully employing youth etc. They were misled by secessionist forces,” he said—(KNO)