‘Demands ouster of Haseeb Drabu, Muzafar Beigh’
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC) on Wednesday demanded the ouster of Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Member of Parliament Muzafar Hussain Beigh for failing to safeguard the fiscal autonomy of the state by implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Addressing a press conference here in Srinagar, senior JKCC leader Mubeen Ahmad Shah said that the state government through Haseeb Drabu and Muzzafar Hussain Beigh took trade for a ride and surrendered everything on the fiscal autonomy and sovereignty front. “We understand that both of them need to be accountable and therefore they have no right to stay at their respective positions,” he said.
Shah said that the whole system seems to be rotten and there is no door that one can knock upon. “If the said Finance Minister and the said Member of Parliament would have realised their follies and the difference between what they preach and what they practice, they would have resigned on moral grounds by this time, but obviously and unfortunately, they cannot see the difference,” he said, adding,
“Irony is that the minster keeps on hoodwinking the trade by one confusing statement or the other or by so-called schemes.”
Shah said that anyone opposing GST is branded a separatist, and even a party like the Congress, which has spearheaded the systemic stripping of “our rights and privileges under the special status of our state since decades, perceived this implementation as an infringement of the special status of our state”.
The official press statement said that trade bodies had held a series of meetings with state authorities including Drabu and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “Both of them not only agreed to desist from affording concurrence to the central law in any hasty manner but also facilitated us to conduct meetings with the Chairman Consultative Committee, Muzzafar Beigh, appointed for suggesting safeguards to the state constitution and its special position. Muzaffar Beigh, while appreciating the apprehensions put forth by the trade bodies, assured them of accommodating their concerns and suggestions in safeguarding the state’s special position,” the statement read.
Shah said, “At all these government levels, the trade organizations were promised of rolling out a state GST law without eroding our special position and without compromising the sovereignty of J&K. Apart from this, we were assured that the draft of such a proposed GST law would be shared with us for our comments and suggestions before its presentation in the Legislative Assembly. However, to our utter dismay, this promise was not kept, and instead a resolution was directly presented before the Legislative Assembly on 3rd of July, 2017.”
The JKCC accused the state assembly members of holding “some artificial and cosmetic” discussions over the implementation of the GST, saying it meant nothing in the end. “The so-called mainstream parties collaborated with each other, which they always do, and got it passed. Some were present in the house and some were absent from the house, but in the end, we dare say, that those present supported it with their presence and those absent were also in support of it with their absence. It was sort of a fixed match or shall we say a fixed assembly session,” Shah added.
The JKCC vowed to continue to fight until their demands were met. “JKCC wishes to put on record that we not going to rest until Presidential Order is withdrawn, GST Act in the present form is rolled back and Jammu and Kashmir is declared a free economic zone,” Shah said.
Answering to a question that despite several protests and other activities not yielding results on the ground, how would the JKCC pursue the government regarding the fulfillment of its demands, Shah replied, “Majority of the people in Kashmir are asking for self-determination; does it mean that if we are not getting it for 70 years, we will not protest. The same thing is going to happen here till these people who have done this realise what wrong they have done to the community.”