NEW DELHI – The people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh want freedom and restoration of human rights, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday, asserting that “money is no substitute for democratic freedom”.
Chidambaram made the remarks when he was asked by reporters to comment about the higher allocation for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in the Union budget.
The former Union finance minister also said if the government thinks that they can take away freedom and then substitute it with the money, they are completely wrong.
“Money is no substitute for democratic freedom for the people of J&K and Ladakh. The people of the Kashmir Valley require freedom, the restoration of human rights. Only a free society, people breathing free air can enjoy the fruits of development and participate in the development process. Money is no substitute for freedom,” Chidambaram said.
“If they think that they can take away freedom, and then substitute it with money, they are completely wrong. I will restore freedom first and then give money,” he told reporters.
To another question about the use of Kashmiri poetry by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech, the Congress leader said all these weakened “hypocritical” attempts to appease the Kashmiri people will not succeed.
“What they need is freedom,” he said, adding that since August 5, freedoms have been taken away from the people of the Kashmir Valley and some are still in custody without charges.
On August 5 last year, the government abrogated Article 370 provisions that gave the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir special status and reorganised it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“The world has taken note of the fact that India has denied freedom to 75 lakh people in the Kashmir Valley for over 6 months. The first thing that the government should do is to restore their freedom, it is only after you restore freedom, you can talk about other things like money or poetry,” Chidambaram said.__Kashmir Observer