New Food Law Agitates Kashmiris, Protest March to LoC To Procure Grain
SRINAGAR: The implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA) has run into rough weather with hundreds of residents in Keran area of frontier Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir Monday attempting to cross the Line of Control (LoC) to procure rice grain.
Reports said hundreds of people from different villages of Kupwara assembled in Keran on Monday and tried to march towards the LoC which divides Kashmir into two parts.
However, the Army and police stopped the march and asked the protestors to return to their homes with assurances that their grievances will be taken care of.
Terming the new law as "draconian", the protesters said they will procure rice grains from across the LoC in Pakistan administered Kashmir if the state government doesn't roll back the law.
"The government is indifferent to our plight. We appealed the administration to provide ration as per old norms but they didn't listen which forced us to take this drastic step. If the law is not rolled back, we will get rice grains from Azad (Pakistan administered) Kashmir," Abdul Majeed Khatana, one of the protesters told The Citizen over phone.
The protesters raised slogans against the BJP and the PDP for NFSA implementation in the state while urging the government to amend the law under which 74.13 lakh of 119.13 lakh people (95% population) will get subsidised ration in Jammu and Kashmir.
The act, which calls for issuing five kilograms of rice grains per person, as against 35 kilograms per family, has been opposed by both the National Conference and Congress, who have urged the Governor NN Vohra to immediately rollback the new law or increase the quota in the state where rice is the staple diet.
The opposition has accused the previous PDP-BJP coalition of doing Centre's bidding in the state by directly implementing the new food law in the state without bringing it into the assembly for ratification.
In 2013, when the law was passed, the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government didn’t ratify the act and as such it was not implemented in J&K. However, the former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed gave green signal to the implementation of NFSA on December 2 last year following which it was implemented in the state from February 1.
"We had opposed the implementation of the new law and even proposed that it should be amended to suit the needs of people in Jammu and Kashmir. It is tragic that the previous government went ahead to implement the law without realising its consequences," Nasir Aslam Wani, a spokesperson of National Conference, said.
At a recent function in Anantnag, the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said she has raised the issued with the Governor NN Vohra. "I have requested the governor for amendments in NFSA for the welfare of people. I am sure some changes will be made for the benefit of our people" Mehbooba said.
(Photograph Courtesy Rising Kashmir: villagers gather at Karnah to protest new food law, attempt to cross Loc in search of grain)