Amit Shah Snubs Dr Farooq, Rules Out Talks With Pakistan

KO Photo By Abid Bhat

Says, Would Rather Talk To J&K's Youth For Development

Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said the government would rather hold talks with the youth and "brothers and sisters" of the Valley than Pakistan as suggested by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah.

He also said the only intention behind repealing Article 370 was to put Kashmir and Jammu on the path of development, and people will see the "fruits of our efforts by 2024".

The home minister, who arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday for his first visit since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, remotely inaugurated several development projects and laid the foundation stone of some.

Before beginning his 38-minute-long speech at a function here, the home minister got the bullet proof glass shield for the speaker removed.

Later, he told the audience that he likes to have a "Mann ki baat" (talk straight from his heart) with the people.

"I was cursed and criticised bitterly and today, I wish to talk to you with an open heart without security and without any bullet proof glass. And, here I am in front of you," Shah said while speaking at a heavily guarded Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre.

"Friends, today I saw the newspapers where Farooq (Abdullah) Saheb has suggested to me that the government should engage in talks with Pakistan. Well, he is a seasoned politician, who has been the chief minister here, and this is his suggestion, but I would like to tell Farooq Saheb that if talks are to be held, I would like to hold it with brothers and sisters of the Kashmir Valley and the youth of the Kashmir Valley," the home minister said.

On the abrogation of Article 370, he said repealing it had only one 'pakeeza' (pious) intention that is to put Kashmir, Jammu and newly created Union Territory of Ladakh on the path of development.

"You will see the fruits of our efforts by 2024," Shah, who wore a traditional Kashmiri pheran, said.

The minister also said, "The next time they (local politicians) mislead you about land being snatched after repeal of Article 370, tell them how much land has been taken away in your village or area. No land has been snatched in the two years since August 2019."

The article, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated in August 2019 and the state was bifurcated into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Shah inaugurated a 500-bed hospital at Bemina, completed at a cost of Rs 115 crore, laid the foundation stone for the Handwara Medical College, a Rs 46-crore steel girder bridge over the Ferozepur Nallah in Baramulla district and road projects worth Rs 4,000 crore, among others.

The home minister said that those who advocate talks with Islamabad and separatists should be asked what has Pakistan done in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir (PcK).

"Compare the development between this side and PoK. Do they have electricity, roads, healthcare and toilets for women. There is nothing (on the other side). You (Kashmiris) have the same rights as any other Indian does," he said.

Without naming Congress, National Conference and Peoples' Democratic Party, he said while only three medical colleges were set up by the "three families which have ruled Jammu and Kashmir", Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ensured seven new medical colleges and these are coming up.

"Earlier, 500 youths could become doctors ... now 2,000 youths can become doctors from these new medical colleges. Nobody will need to go to Pakistan to study medicine," he said.

Shah said schemes and plans of the Modi government will ensure that J&K is the most developed province of the country.

He sought the cooperation of the people to realise this dream.

"It is only the youth of J&K who can work towards achieving this goal," he said, adding "we want that the youth of Kashmir pick books and not stones, pick tools to brighten their future and not arms."

Asserting that the government is aiming to wipe out terrorism and put an end to civilian killings in J&K, Shah said nobody will be allowed to disrupt peace and development in the Union Territory, which has a special place in Prime Minister Modi's heart.

Defending the curbs on internet services and imposition of curfew in the aftermath of abrogation of Article 370, he said that "some people would have misled the masses. Who would have been killed? The Kashmiri youth. We know how heavy the coffin of a young son is for an old man".

He said 40,000 people have been killed in Kashmir in violence and it should stop now.

"This many people do not die even in wars. We have to come back and take Kashmir to new heights of development," he said.

The minister said Rs 12,000 crore worth of investment has already come to the Union Territory and the government aims at a total of Rs 51,000 crore by the end of 2022 to provide five lakh jobs to the local youth.

Shah said "three families" are answerable to the people for their failure to develop J&K over the past seven decades.

"The new phase of development under the leadership of Modi has started in J&K but attempts are being made by inimical elements to create hurdles. I have come here to assure you that nobody will be able to create a hurdle and disrupt peace and development," he said.

He said a new phase of development has started and this cannot be stopped.

Shah said that Pulwama was known for the deadly attack on CRPF (on February 14, 2019) but the same district will have Rs 2000 Crore worth AIIMS now.

Shah said five lakh jobs are being created in Jammu and Kashmir, while 20,000 people have been provided government jobs in the past two years.

"The three families used to say who will come and invest in J&K... in just six months after announcing a new industrial policy, we have got an investment of Rs 7,000 crore in Jammu and Rs 6,000 crore in Kashmir and are looking forward to an investment of Rs 50,000 crore by 2022-end," he said.

Shah accused the "three families" of ruining the tourism industry of the erstwhile state of J&K. However, he said, "from March 2020 to March 2021, 1.34 lakh tourists came to the valley" and claimed it to be the highest since independence.

No Kashmiri Lost His Land After Art-370 Revocation’

Claiming that some vested interests were exploiting people on the issue of Article-370 abrogation, Shah said that not a single Kashmiri has lost his land after the August 2019 move.

“Not a single Kashmiri has lost his or her land after abrogation of Article 370. It is the time to show those people the mirror of truth. The big ‘No’ from the crowd is a proof that the central government ushered a new era of development in the J&K,” Shah said.

“I want to ask the PRI representatives, and the people present here, has any Kashmiri lost his land after abrogation of Article 370?” he said, as per an official spokesperson.

The Home Minister asked people not to fall prey to the deception being created by some people for the sake of their political advantage.

Shah, he said, alleged that some vested interests spread lies and incite the feelings of the people of Kashmir on the name of abrogation of Article 370.

“They tried to instill the feeling of insecurity amongst Kashmir people by creating fear of losing their land post Article 370,” the Home Minister said.

“Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi took the historic decision to end Article 370 to safeguard the rights and interests of the people of J&K,” he added.

Spends Night At CRPF Camp In Pulwama

The Modi government has a “zero-tolerance policy towards terror”, and while the situation has improved a lot in Jammu and Kashmir, "we should not be satisfied till total peace is achieved", Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday.

Shah, who extended his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, stayed for the night at the CRPF Campus in Lethpora in Pulwama where a suicide car bomb attack by militants in February 2019 had left 40 paramilitary personnel dead.

"I want to spend one night with you people and understand your problems," Shah said addressing the security personnel at the CRPF campus, adding it was his "most important" engagement during his visit to the Union territory.

Shah said that the law and order situation has improved a lot in Jammu and Kashmir, adding that he was hopeful "we will be able to realise a peaceful Jammu and Kashmir as envisaged by Prime Minister Modi during our lifetime".

Stone-pelting incidents are only seen when we try to look for them. There was a time when stone pelting was common in Kashmir. Such incidents have decreased to a huge extent. But, I want to say that there is no need to be satisfied, Shah said.

Narendra Modi government has a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism. We cannot bear it. It is against humanity. It should be our priority to save the people of Kashmir from the persons who are linked to this heinous crime against humanity, he said.

The Home Minister expressed his gratitude to the CRPF and other security forces for ensuring that there was no bloodshed after Article 370 was revoked in August 2019.

"There are many changes that are happening on the development front, in infrastructure, industrial and education sectors because the Army and CRPF are ensuring that all sinister designs are defeated," Shah said.

He said when Articles 370 and 35A were revoked, there were many apprehensions that "there would be a huge reaction".

"It was possible as well, that perhaps there could have been bloodshed, but today I have come here to tell you and tell you freely that because of your alertness not a single shot was fired. It is a huge thing for us.

The alertness with which 28,000 jawans and also J-K policemen worked after a major decision was taken in national and J-K's interest, no blood was shed and a new era of development was started in Kashmir,"' he said.

Its effect is visible in the fact that the Pulwama which was known across the country and the world over for the attack on CRPF will now have a medical college to be built at the cost of Rs 2000 crore, he said.

Shah said during 2004-14, an average of 208 civilians and 105 security personnel were killed every year, but in the 2014-21 period, it has come down to 60 personnel and 30 civilians per year.

However, he asked why should even 30 civilians lose their lives to militant incidents.

Shah said the people of J-K have accepted the decision of the revocation of Article 370.

"All the forces here have taken care of the law and order situation in a right manner. So, as the country's Home Minister, I thank you for the good work, he said.

Shah said when Modi's vision of development in J-K is completed successfully, there will be peace.

And I believe that we will be able to see it in our lifetime only," he said.

"Jammu and Kashmir stands as an example of the fact if we are able to provide a secure environment and grassroots level democracy, anything can be achieved," the minister said, adding development in J-K is moving ahead at a double speed.

Shah said India, which was at the 11th position in 2014, will be a major economic power soon.

"Today we are at sixth position and I am sure that by 2024 we will reach the third position," he said.

The union minister said it was an honour for him to spend a night with the CRPF jawans at the campus in Pulwama.

It is a very important programme for me to be with the forces whether the Army, BSF, CRPF or SSB who are protecting every last inch of the border. This is the last programme of my J-K visit and I can say this without any doubt that it is the most important programme, he said.

A suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group had attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on February 14, 2019, leaving 40 personnel dead. India then launched an airstrike against a JeM training camp in Balakot on February 26.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force had retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman, who was later released.

The IAF had said that during the aerial engagement on February 27, one of its MiG-21 Bison shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet.

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