Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha hosted a “Statehood Day” ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Jammu on Friday, delighting the official audience but leaving former chief minister Omar Abdullah fuming.
The Statehood Day celebrated was that of faraway Nagaland -- and at a place that has been stripped of its statehood and special status and demoted to a Union Territory.
Omar accused the Raj Bhavan of “rubbing salt into the wounds” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Irony comes to die in J&K. Here we celebrate Nagaland Statehood-day in Raj Bhavan, Jammu while celebrating ‘Union Territory Day’ when it comes to J&K. Talk about rubbing salt into the wounds of the people here,” Omar posted on X.
The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – when the Centre diluted Article 370 through the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which was passed on August 5, 2019, and came into effect on October 31, 2019.
On October 31 this year, the Sinha administration sparked outrage here by celebrating the fourth anniversary of the demotion as “UT Foundation Day”. The event drew protests from the Opposition.
The government had lined up a series of programmes across Jammu and Kashmir to celebrate the occasion, drafting in thousands of government employees and students to showcase support for the move.
On August 5, 2019, Union home minister Amit Shah had promised to restore Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood at an appropriate time. But the Centre has shown no interest in doing it so far despite growing demands.
Nagaland was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1964, at a time when Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a large measure of autonomy and had its own “prime minister”.
An official spokesperson said that artistes from the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages presented several cultural programmes based on dance forms of Nagaland at the Statehood Day celebrations.
Security personnel, students and other people from Nagaland now staying in Jammu and Kashmir were special invitees to the event.
Sinha said that Nagaland had “in the last nine years… seen significant progress on various fronts and renewed vigour in its economy”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development initiative for the Northeast has truly brought historic socio-economic transformations (to) Nagaland after years of neglect,” he added.
He paid homage to the great personalities of Nagaland and remembered their contribution to nation-building.
Sinha added that the Statehood Day was an occasion to celebrate Nagaland’s unique strengths, opportunities, tourism potential and the spirit of unity in diversity.