Delimitation, Elections, Statehood: Shah Lays Down J&K Roadmap

Amit Shah with family members of slain police officer in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored after the delimitation of constituencies and assembly elections.

In his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after its special status was scrapped in 2019, Union Home Minister said instances of terrorism and stone-pelting have reduced since the abrogation of Article 370.

The Union Home Minister's visit to the Valley comes at a time when the centre faces a major security challenge in the wake of targeted civilian killings that triggered an exodus of migrant labourers and Kashmiri Pandits. The visit also comes amid rising incidents of militancy including longest military operation in Poonch that has claimed the lives of nine soldiers, including two officers.

Immediately after his arrival here Shah discussed the security situation at a high-level meeting.

In his address to members of youth clubs at SKICC here, Shah said the revocation of Article 370 is "irreversible".

Defending the communication blockade and curfew following the August 5, 2019 move, Shah said they were a "bitter pill" meant to save lives.

Kashmir was under curfew for months and witnessed the world's longest internet shutdown after the August 5, 2019.

"There was a lot of criticism about why there is curfew, why there is internet shutdown. I will answer. First I want to ask a question. For 70 years, three families ruled here. Why were 40,000 people killed in Kashmir? Do you have an answer?"

At SKICC meet Shah sought the support of the youth of Kashmir in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "vision of a peaceful and developed" J&K and reiterated that the delimitation process will be completed, despite local parties’ opposition, followed by the conduct elections and later the restoration of statehood.

“Elections will happen. (Politicians from Kashmir want that the) Delimitation be stopped. Why? Because it hurts their politics. Now nothing will stop in Kashmir. Delimitation will happen, followed by elections and then restoration of statehood so that the youth of Kashmir get opportunities. I had said that in the parliament also. And, this is the roadmap. I came here to make friends with the Kashmiri youth," Shah told the gathering of youth.

Shah said the government in Jammu and Kashmir has decided to form a youth club in every panchayat and Rs 25,000 will be provided to every such club. The minister said that "transparency and corruption-free governance" Jammu-Kashmir has witnessed since 2019 is the pillar of the region's development. "Would it be possible without abrogating Article 370?

The government had abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. It had also bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Our projects for Jammu and Kashmir are multidimensional. It promotes education and skill development, as well as economic assistance. We've also promoted sports and tourism," he said.

He said no one can obstruct development in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that strict action will be taken against those who want to disrupt the peace and harmony in the union territory.

"Kashmir has seen a new beginning -- from fear, terrorism, corruption, and family-based politics to peace, development, and prosperity. The youth of Jammu and Kashmir have strengthened this change. Terrorism has reduced, stone-pelting has become invisible...I want to assure you that strict action will be taken against those who want to disrupt the peace and harmony of Jammu and Kashmir. No one can obstruct development here. It is our commitment," Shah said.

Slamming the earlier regimes in the erstwhile state, Shah said, "What did the previous governments give to Jammu and Kashmir in 70 years? 87 MLAs, 6 MPs and 3 families...Prime Minister Narendra Modiji has made it possible that about 30,000 elected representatives in the Panchayat elections, who are serving the people today.  Post-independence, the Government of India helped Jammu and Kashmir, but the poverty, unemployment did not go away, infrastructure did not develop. Now poverty is going from here, people are getting employment opportunities.”

Reviews Security Situation

Earlier after arriving in Srinagar, Shah drove straight to meet the family of a police officer killed by militants. He later chaired a meeting to review the security situation in the Valley. He was received at the technical airport here by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and advisor Farooq Khan.

Shah offered his condolences to the family and handed over documents of appointment to a government job to Ahmad’s widow, Fatima Akhtar, on compassionate grounds, a home ministry official said.

“Today visited the family of martyr Parvaiz Ahmad Dar and paid tributes to him. I and the nation are proud of his bravery. Jammu and Kashmir Police is making all efforts to realise the vision of PM Modi for a new JK," Shah said in a tweet later.

After going to Nowgam, Shah reviewed the security situation and steps taken to combat terrorism in Kashmir Valley, particularly following the targeted killings of civilians, mostly non-local labourers and minorities.

During the meeting, held at the Raj Bhavan here, the home minister was briefed on steps taken to eliminate terrorism from the union territory and counter-infiltration measures by the security forces, officials said.

The meeting was attended by top civil administration officials, including the lieutenant governor and senior security officials from the Army, CRPF, police and other agencies, they said.

In preparation for the visit, Jammu and Kashmir Police detained around 900 people from different parts of Kashmir valley. Those detained include mostly youth whom police called “former stone pelters”, relatives of militants and alleged “over ground workers” of militant outfits.

The police have also imposed an unofficial ban on the plying of two-wheelers, especially in Srinagar city. Cops have confiscated hundreds of two-wheelers, even those for which riders produced all necessary documents.

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