Home Minister’s Visit

UNION Home Minister Amit Shah is embarking on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from October 4. During his stay, the union minister will review the security situation and address two rallies, one at Rajouri in Jammu and another at Baramulla in Kashmir Valley. He will also launch development projects in both regions. The security meeting on October 5 will be attended by Lieutenant Governor  Manoj Sinha, top officials of the army, paramilitary forces, state police and civil administration.
Earlier, the home minister had visited the UT for three days in October last year. The visit was the longest than any of his predecessors had spent in J&K. In a packed schedule, the home minister made sure he paid close attention to the problems of the former state. He interacted with diverse delegations. The visit was not political in nature. The home minister tried to keep the focus on the development of J&K. Almost all his statements were more or less about improving the economy of the union territory and providing employment to the youth. He didn’t, however, announce any big-ticket economic or political initiative as is otherwise expected from a  high-profile visit like that of a home minister. And that too as powerful as Amit Shah.
Will this visit be any different? There is a possibility that it could be. The visit comes at a time when J&K is looking ahead to holding its Assembly elections probably early next year. So, people will expect the home minister to make some announcement to this effect. During his last year’s visit, the home minister had promised that J&K statehood will be restored after elections are held and an elected government is formed. But by the time an elected government is formed in the middle of the next year, the country would already in election mode. The general elections are scheduled to be held by May 2024 and the BJP would be busy preparing for it.  But there is still hope that the union government. could choose to grant statehood to J&K before the general elections.
That said, the home minister’s visit has generated expectations in Kashmir. People hope he will make some big-bang policy or a political announcement. Certainly, people would be interested in knowing the union government’s plans for Assembly elections and also about the grant of statehood. It will be interesting to see what Shah will say during his address to rallies in Jammu and Srinagar. But for now, we can only keep our fingers crossed.

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