Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram took the PM Modi-led government to task over the allocation of funds for Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh. Castigating the government's actions, the Congress leader noted that freedom could not be substituted with money, referring to the restrictions imposed in Jammu & Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370.
In a post-Budget press brief, Chidambaram asserted the need to restore the human rights of the people of Kashmir. Further reiterating that freedom should be ensured first, then money.
"Money is no substitute for freedom. What the people of J&K and Ladakh require is freedom. The people of Kashmir require the resortation of their human rights. Only in a free society, people breathing free air, can enjoy the fruits of development and participate in the process. If they think they can takeaway freedom and substitute it with money, they are completely wrong. I will restore freedom first and then give money," Chidambaram said.
Echoeing the claims of Modi government over Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs. 30, 757 crores for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for 2020-21. "The government is fully committed to supporting the all-round development of the newly formed Union Territories of J&K and the Union Territory of Ladakh. Accordingly, an amount of Rs 30,757 crores has been provided for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir for the financial year 2020-21 and Rs 5,958 crores for the Union Territory of Ladakh for the year 2020-21", said Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget.
Earlier in the day, at the beginning of her speech, Nirmala Sitharaman recited a couplet in Kashmiri by poet Pandit Dinanath Kaul to indicate Modi-led government's outreach in the valley. The poem 'Humara Watan', referring to the spirit of Kashmir was met with clamorous protest by the Opposition leaders. Leaders from behind could be heard shouting "Farooq Abdullah", the Srinagar MP who has been detained since August 5 and slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) and cries of 'Kashmir toh jail hai abhi' (Kashmir is a jail now) could also be heard.
Nirmala Sitharaman recited the poem and translated it in Hindi, "Humara watan khilte hue Shalimar bagh jaise, humara watan Dal lake mein khilte hue kamal jaisa, nau jawanon ke garam khoon jaisa, mera watan tera watan, humara watan, duniya ka sabse pyara watan." (Our country, like a blooming Shalimar garden. Our country, like the lotus blossoming in Dal Lake. Like the hot blood of the youth, my country, your country, the world's dearest country.)