In an interesting turn of events during Lok Sabha's Winter Session on Wednesday, Congress' Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury challenged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to debate on former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's "mistake" in the Kashmir issue. Chowdhury and Shah engaged in war of words during the debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
Prompted by the Bharatiya Janata Party's repeated attacks on Nehru and the Congress over their alleged stalling of Jammu and Kashmir's statehood, Chowdhury challenged Shah and the BJP to conduct a lengthy debate on the former prime minister's contribution in the Kashmir issue, mainly Article 370. To this Shah sitting across Chowdhury got up from his seat and accepted the challenge saying, "Adhir Ranjan ji, we are ready. If you want let's conduct a debate now. Hum abhi tayyar hain."
Two bills on Jammu and Kashmir passed in Lok Sabha
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023. During the debate, Shah claimed that Kashmiri Pandits were "forced" to live like refugees in India.
"When they (Kashmiri Pandits) were displaced, they were forced to live as refugees in their country. Around 46,631 families were displaced in their own country. This Bill is to get them rights, this Bill is to give them representation," he said.
What are the bills about?
Introduced on July 26, 2023, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill of 2023, presented in the Lok Sabha on July 26, 2023, aims to modify the reservation act within the union territory. This proposed legislation seeks to extend reservation provisions in both employment opportunities and educational institutions to individuals belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes.
Simultaneously, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill introduces a provision allowing the Lieutenant Governor to nominate a maximum of two members from the Kashmiri migrant community to the assembly, with at least one being a woman. The bill defines migrants as individuals who relocated from the Kashmir Valley or any other region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after November 1, 1989, and are registered with the Relief Commissioner.