The issue of setting up ‘Sainik Colony’ in the valley led to a strong exchange in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sparred with National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday after some legislators raised the issue of proposed colony for the retired armed forces personnel citing reports in local media.
The issue has assumed significant contours given the ruling allies – PDP and BJP – are seemingly not on the same page over it.
Accusing the opposition and some media outlets, CM Mehbooba Mufti dubbed it as “non-issue” besides sounding a warning that such reports can lead to disruption of peace in the state.
“I do not know what these newspapers want? Do they want to put the state on fire? They should have investigated before publishing the story,” an agitated Mehbooba said.
The issue of proposed colony, named as Sainik Colony, was raised by Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed. Waving a copy of the newspaper, the firebrand legislator stormed into the well of the House, demanding a statement from the Government on the issue.
“Last time the Chief Minister said there was no Sainik Colony being set up in the Valley and now we have this report. What is the truth?” MLA Rashid asked.
But the Chief Minister was quick to denounce the report saying there was no truth in the story. She also told the house that the photograph published in the newspaper was that of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) quarters being constructed for married serving personnel of the unit.
“The opposition members bring in these newspapers which I will not name as they want to get publicity. If anyone tries to disrupt peace, they will be dealt with sternly,” Mehbooba said.
Soon a pandemonium struck on the floor of the legislative assembly after Mehbooba flayed former CM and Opposition leader Omar Abdullah, especially over internet posts written by him to criticise the state government. But the latter hit back, saying it was to make her accountable and he won’t back down from speaking on issues of public interest through the social media.
“My small tweets prick you. Your mood gets spoiled. If I make you accountable by tweeting, I will continue it. I won’t stop and I won’t apologise for it,” Omar said.
On the specific issue of Sainik Colony, Mehboona targeted Abdullah of chairing a meet on the issue when he was CM.
“Omar Abdullah attended four meetings (of the Sainik Board as CM) and in all four meetings, he directed that land be identified for setting up of the Sainik Colony… Now, there is tweet, tweet, tweet,” she said.
Responding to Mehbooba’s charge, Omar said he has never denied being part of the meetings for setting up of Sainik Colony but had never passed any order for setting up the colony. “If there is any such order issued during my tenure, please bring it forth. If you are here for welfare of the people, I am also here so that people are benefited,” he said.
Mehbooba last week made a statement in the Assembly that the government had not identified any land for setting up a sainik colony in Kashmir. Even if any such colony is set up, it would be only for retired soldiers who are permanent residents of the state as provided under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, she had told the assembly.
(With inputs from the PTI)