JAMMU – Stating that commoners are unconcerned over detention of former three chief ministers, BJP National Vice President Avinash Rai Khanna on Saturday said that the situation in the Valley was fast returning to normal and people have reposed their “faith in the democracy” by actively taking part in the Block Development Council (BDC) elections, scheduled to take place on October 24.
Without naming the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership, he accused them of looting the state and said “there was not a single protest by people for them”.
“The government is very serious to maintain law and order but the way the innocent people, including an apple trader, were killed shows that the (militants) are frustrated over the return of normalcy in Kashmir and they want to scare the people,” Khanna, who returned from Kashmir after a three-day long visit, told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
The BJP leader, who is also in charge of Jammu and Kashmir, said the militants involved in the innocent civilian killings have been identified and “very soon they will be either killed or captured” by the security forces.
A truck driver from Rajasthan, a migrant labourer from Chhattisgarh and an apple trader from Punjab were killed and another apple trader critically injured in three separate attacks by terrorists in Shopian and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir since Monday.
Asserting that the BJP will “write a new chapter” of development in Jammu and Kashmir, he said this was his second visit to the Valley after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 on August 5 and “there is a visible change towards peace and normalcy”.
“The peace movement has started in the Valley as there is heavy rush of vehicles on the roads with people coming out to earn their livelihood. The markets are abuzz with activities…frustrated, the (militants) are trying to create fear but we are confident that the government will not allow them to succeed,” he said.
He said the government is not going to show any laxity as it did over the past 73 days by maintaining peace and law and order in the Valley.
“I visited central, north and south Kashmir areas. People have accepted the decision which is for their betterment. There are 520 candidates in the fray for the BDC elections in 130 blocks, out of 137, in the Valley which shows the faith of the people in democracy,” Khanna said.
He said the central government wants to empower the Panchayati Raj institutions in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The parties which ruled the state for the last 70 years have looted it. They were never sincere in empowering panches and sarpanches to maintain their family dominance. They were not expecting people to take part in the elections after the abrogation of the special status, and hence boycotted the polls,” he said.
In a reference to the detention of former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, he said “there was no reaction from the commoners as they stand exposed before the public”.
“They have ruled the state for the last seven decades and their detention would have triggered protests. But nobody except a group of their women relatives held a demonstration, which shows that the people are against them,” Khanna said.
Replying to a question about frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC), he said, “We want border residents to live in peace but when Pakistan violates the ceasefire, we are duty bound to retaliate.”