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J&K downgraded to UT from state, like a CM demoting to MLA: Ghulam Nabi Azad

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Srinagar, Nov 27: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that the Centre's decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcating the erstwhile state into Union territories was unexpected and warned the government that the fight to get the people's identity back will continue even if his life has to be sacrificed for the cause.

J&K downgraded to UT from state, like a CM demoting to MLA: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Speaking at a party workers' meeting in the Devsar area of south Kashmir's Kulgam district, Azad said, "A lightening struck Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Something which no one would have thought or guessed happened. Not just the people of Kashmir or Jammu or Ladakh, but no citizen of India would have thought that Jammu and Kashmir would be divided into two parts and two Union territories would be carved out of it,"

Usually, a Union Territory is made into a state, but for the first time, a state was downgraded into a Union Territory. "It was like a DGP turned into a thanedaar, a chief minister into just an MLA and a chief secretary into a patwari. No one would have thought something like this would happen. We thought no wise person would do such a thing and there was something messed up. It was untoward. I have talked a great deal about it over the last few years in Parliament," he said.

Describing the state of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before August 5, 2019 as "our identity", the former Union minister asked people to be ready for the struggle to achieve full statehood. "The state of Jammu and Kashmir is our identity. There were some things that Jammu and Kashmir had but the other parts of the country did not have. Those were our identity. We want our identity back and you have to remain ready for the struggle to achieve that. The first bullet will hit me, followed by these 10-20 people (Congress leaders) and then you."

He added, "Till statehood is not restored like it was till August 4, 2019 and with the same Assembly, not the Union Territory Assembly, our struggle will go on even if we have to sacrifice our lives for that, because it is our identity," he said.

The Congress leader claimed that the situation in Kashmir today is like how it was 300-400 years ago. "There is poverty, the faces of the people are like as if they are in mourning, the light in their hearts has been extinguished. There is a disappointment, unemployment, several restrictions, people cannot talk and if they raise their voice, they are sent to jail. How can humans be happy in such a situation?" he asked.

The event had the presence of many Congress leaders, including those who resigned from party posts recently after revolting against its Jammu and Kashmir unit leadership. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir skipped the event. PTI

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