Takes up bills to include ‘Valmiki’ in list of SCs
New Delhi, Feb 6: The LokSabha on Tuesday passed a bill to provide reservation to Other Backward Classes in local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, with the government asserting that important changes have taken place in the Union territory since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
Replying to a brief debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill-2024, Union Minister of State for Home NityanandRai said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have started enjoying the fruits of development ushered in by the government led by Prime Minister NarendraModi.
Currently, there is no provision for reservation of seats for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir.
The bill seeks to provide reservation to Other Backward Classes in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir and bring consistency in the local body laws of the Union territory with the provisions of the Constitution.
“With this, justice will be ensured to the citizens of Other Backward Classes of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time after 75 years of independence,” according to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.
In his reply to the discussion on the bill in the LokSabha, Rai said he made no reference to the opposition demand for the government to spell out a time frame for holding of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and the restoration of statehood.
Rai said the opposition members, participating in the debate, were resorting to a drama of supporting the bill granting reservation to OBCs in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir and were raising other issues.
“I wish to make one thing clear, no matter how much you go around in circles, but in Jammu and Kashmir wherever you go you will only hear ‘Modi, Modi’ and the development ushered in by Modi,” the minister said.
Earlier, opposition members in the LokSabha urged the government to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest.
Participating in the debate, HasnainMasoodi of the National Conference (NC) demanded that the polls in the Union territory be held soon.
He said the central government should have decided on the polls before the Supreme Court had to intervene in the matter.
The top court had a few months back asked the Election Commission to hold assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir by September this year.
Masoodi said Prime Minister NarendraModi had on Monday said his government would take big decisions. Polls in the Union territory should be held before other big ticket decisions are taken, Masoodi said.
Minister of State for Home Ajay Misra intervened to point out that local bodies’ elections were held in the erstwhile state.
Participating in the debate, TMC leader Saugata Roy also referred to the Supreme Court observation and pitched for early assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
On August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was made a Union territory with a provision for a legislative assembly after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special status to the erstwhile state.
SupriyaSule of the NCP demanded a timeline and “not a vague” answer from the government on holding assembly polls and giving statehood to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
She said while the Election Commission will decide on the date, the government could at least give a tentative timeline for holding the democratic exercise.
BJP member from Jammu and Kashmir Jugal Kishore Sharma said the bill would ensure justice to OBCs.
ChintaAnuradha of the YSRCP said this was a progressive legislation and would help streamline the election process in the local bodies, including panchayats.
Shiv Sena member PratapJadhav, NavneetRana (Ind), Kaushalendra Kumar (JD-U), Ramesh Bidhuri (BJP), VeeraswamyKalanidhi (DMK), N K Premachandran (RSP), VeVaithilingam and AdhirRanjanChowdhury (both Congress) also participated in the debate.
Meanwhile, the LokSabha on Tuesday took up a bill to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Scheduled Castes Order, 1956 for including ‘Valmiki’ in the list of SCs in the union territory.
The LokSabha also took up a bill to include the communities of “Gadda Brahmin”, “Koli”, “Paddari Tribe” and “Pahari Ethnic Group” in the list of Scheduled Tribes in respect of Jammu and Kashmir.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar moved the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order Bill 2023 bill for consideration and passage in the House. Tribal Affairs Minister ArjunMunda moved the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill 2023 in the House.
Officials said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has recommended for inclusion of the Valmiki community as a synonym of Chura, Bhangi, Balmiki, Mehtar at serial number 5 in the list of Scheduled Castes of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 proposes to amend the Schedule of the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order, 1956 for inclusion of ‘Valmiki’.
The officials said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has requested for inclusion of the “Gadda Brahmin”, “Koli”, “Paddari Tribe” communities and “Pahari Ethnic Group” in the list of Scheduled Tribes.
The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 proposes to amend the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989. (Agencies)