SRINAGAR: The National Conference on Thursday denounced the claims of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman on “changed ground situation” in Jammu and Kashmir as “a bundle of lies” to whitewash the “devastating” impact of the Centre’s August 5, 2019 decisions on the people and economy of the erstwhile state. In a joint statement, NC’s members of parliament Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi asked the Union finance minister which yardstick she had employed to gauge the development and growth parameters in Jammu and Kashmir. The MPs said the minister gloating on the Kashmir situation is “a bundle of lies” which is belied by the prevailing ground situation in the Valley. They said the ministers in the incumbent dispensation at the helm of affairs in Delhi have been “outlandishly lying to whitewash the devastating outcome” of the August 5, 2019 “unilateral and undemocratic decisions” of revoking J&K’s special status. Denouncing the “absurd chicanery” of the Union minister, the NC MPs said if the situation was that good, then why has the footprint of forces increased in Kashmir? “Why have bunkers, night raids, civilian killings returned to haunt people? How has the unemployment ratio skyrocketed to an all-time high of 21.6 per cent, which is thrice the national average? Why are people associated with manufacturing, horticulture, tourism and trade in the throes of a profound crisis? What yardstick has the concerned minister employed to gauge the development in Jammu and Kashmir?” the statement said. The NC leaders said such claims are “akin to running salt into the wounds” of the people of J&K, who are being “denied democracy” and not trusted with a popular government, whose democratic rights have been “crippled” and whose exclusive rights over the land, jobs and natural resources stand liquidated. The MPs said the decisions of August, 5 2019, have “plunged J&K into a deep chasm of political uncertainty and insecurity, dissolving the multitude of dividends” encashed by previous democratically elected successive state and central governments in terms of improving security, infusing confidence in youth, generating employment and perking up development. “A simple fact check will reveal how badly Jammu and Kashmir is doing on all developmental indices. The major causality of the abrogation of Articles 370, 35 A has been the freedom of press in Jammu and Kashmir. By denying the press its due freedom, the government is only peddling it lies to whitewash the aftermath of the Himalayan blunder it committed on August 5, 2019. “The new media policy 2020 has taken away the basic principle of a free press and systematically stifled all forms of dissent,” the statement said. Cautioning the central government against “misconstruing” the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the MPs demanded the rollback of August 5, 2019 decisions.