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Mehbooba demands divisional status for Pir Panjal, Chenab Valley.

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday demanded divisional status for Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley regions, even as she questioned the governor Satya Pal Malik for what she called “encroaching upon democratic space” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to reports that the governor’s administration was going to accord a divisional status to Ladakh, Mehbooba said her party is not opposing it. But, she said, “we request the governor to approve a similar decision for Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley as well”.

I hope all parties including National Conference and Congress, as well as independents, are united on this issue. Our demand is that if a divisional status is given to Ladakh, then the same should be granted to Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley as well,” Mehbooba said, warning that she would launch a ‘peaceful agitation’ if the two regions were ignored.

While Pir Panjal comprises three districts of Ramban, Poonch and Rajouri, the Chenab Valley includes Doda and Kishtwar districts.

Justifying her demand, Mehbooba said both Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley were far-flung areas and taking such a decision “could help provide good governance and pave way for creation of hill development councils for both the regions”.

She said there seemed to be to a “hidden agenda” behind decisions taken recently, like treating J&K Bank a public sector undertaking (PSU), revoking Roshni scheme and reports of changing procedures for issuance of state subject certificates, and bringing in a new Juvenile (Justice) Act.

“We respect governor sahib (but) why is he encroaching upon democratic space in J&K?” Mehbooba asked. “There is no emergency or hurry in issuing the orders that he is issuing. They can be taken when we have an elected government in place. It seems there is somebody’s hidden hand behind all this. But I hope the governor will not be a part of it.”

The PDP president said since the state came under governor’s rule in June this year, “so many decisions have been taken and orders passed which are not in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir”.

She said since the governor was a politician himself, they were hopeful that he would “understand sensitivities” of J&K and be “cautious, rather over cautious.”But, she said, “Unfortunately every day, one or the other order is issued which creates insecurity among the people”.

“Unfortunately, the governor’s team does not advise him well, otherwise they would not have taken such decisions which have to be revoked later. These decisions should be left to an elected popular government,” Mehbooba said, adding that all political parties were concerned over these “controversial” decisions taken by the governor’s administration.

She said the decision to repeal the Roshni Act would “hit poor people of the state and tribal population including Gujjars and Bakerwals”.

“All rich people have benefitted from it (Roshni Act),” she said.

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