Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Sunday accused the BJP-led NDA Government of giving “step-motherly” treatment to Kashmir. He was referring to New Delhi’s non-commitment to sanction rehabilitation package for flood victims. Omar equally blamed ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for “letting the Centre go away” and not “taking firm commitment from BJP on the package before joining hands with it.”
“This non-commitment on flood rehabilitation package is more of NDA and BJP’s step-motherly treatment (towards Kashmir),” Omar said, in an exclusive interview to us.
He was responding to a question on Government of India’s silence on financial assistance to families who lost their houses in the flood of September 7 last year.
“In the past, the Centre has responded. In the aftermath of 2005 earthquake, the Government of India responded and we got better package than what we have got now,” Omar, who was the Chief Minister when floods hit the state, said.
At the same time, he trained guns on PDP, saying Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed “should have taken firm commitment on the flood package from BJP at New Delhi before cobbling an alliance with the right-wing party.”
“He (Sayeed) should have got the money in hand,” Omar said.
The former Chief Minister said the “sad truth” was that flood was used as “basis” for formation of PDP-BJP Government in the State.
He asserted Sayeed had rejected support of National Conference and Congress for Government formation, saying their (parties’) pockets were empty.
“I remember him (Sayeed) saying that I have to get money from Delhi and I have to get flood package approved. This is what he said. I remember it,” Omar said, questioning the PDP-led Government’s silence on the issue now.
Soon after the devastating flood hit Kashmir, the Omar-led Government submitted a proposal of Rs 44000 crore to New Delhi for providing financial assistance to flood victims and rebuilding the damaged infrastructure.
One year on, there has been no word from Government of India over its approval. At one point of time, PDP also distanced itself from the package after Government of India raised queries over Delhi asking the State to re-work it.
While Monday (September 7) would be the first anniversary of the flood, thousands of families who lost their houses are still waiting for financial support.
Around 2.70 lakh structures had got damaged in the deluge–over 21000 of them completely, as per official records.
The State Government provided Rs 75,000 compensation to a family whose concrete house was completely damaged in the flood while as the compensation provided for partially damaged house was Rs 3,800. Subsequently New Delhi provided Rs one lakh assistance to a family whose house was consumed by the deluge.
Omar criticized PDP-BJP Government for “not doing enough” to pursue flood rehabilitation with New Delhi.
“Of course they haven’t done enough. We won’t have been asking for the package today, one year after the flood. The High Court had to intervene because nothing is happening,” Omar responded to a question.
He said the rigid stand of State government not to go before New Delhi led to “death” of the package.
“Finance Minister stands in Assembly and says I am not going to ask for anything and I will take what is my due. He (Finance Minister) said he will not beg and he will not let his Chief Minister beg. Now we are all beggars. We have been reduced to begging. This package is not going to come because government of India will come and tell you take it. You have to go and keep asking and they could not be bothered,” said Omar.
Omar said New Delhi has also rejected proposal for many tunnels in J&K including a tunnel on Mughal Road that would connect Kashmir with Poonch in Jammu.
“Your proposal for AFSPA is dead before it starts. Your 1.25 lakh crore proposed package has gone to Bihar. There is not a single item in their Agenda for Alliance that has seen forward movement during the past six months,” Omar said.
He also criticized Government of India for “disparity” in sanctioning of funds for flood victims of Jammu and Kashmir.
“You sanction funds and specify these have to be used for Kuccha houses. How many people in Kashmir have Kuccha houses…So even in that there is disparity,” said Omar.
The former Chief Minister said he didn’t want to play regional politics. “But this disparity is unfair,” he said. “That is why I keep on making the point that J&K Chief Minister is the Chief Minister of Kashmir only and his deputy is looking after Jammu. There is deep divide in the State today and it is visible in these things.”