By Farooq Wani,
As part of the center’s outreach in J&K after abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, many parliamentary panels and dozens of MPs have toured the Union Territory of J&K in the last two years. During their visit, union ministers have interacted with locals, the administration, and representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions. They have also visited remote areas, mainly South Kashmir, which was once considered a “hotbed of militancy “. Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to JK is particularly significant because of two reasons- one, it’s his first visit after revocation of Article 370, and two, it comes in wake of killing of 11 innocent civilians by militants in one month.
During his visit, Shah chaired a high-level security review meeting in Srinagar in which he ordered officials to act tough against militants and eradicate militancy from its roots, making it clear that those concerned should focus on “ending terrorism” or else, “take transfer”. The home minister also told officials to arrest all over ground workers (OGWs) without any hesitation. “Let them face the music of doing anti-national work. The police classify an OGW as “anyone who supports insurgents” and since they provide logistical support to militants and thereby facilitate terrorist attacks in J&K, they are equally guilty as terrorists are.
The center’s narrative all along has been that J&K is safe for everyone. However, since the recent killings prove that people belonging to minority communities and outsiders are not safe here, it was obvious that serious discussion on counter militancy and anti-infiltration measures taken by the security forces would top the agenda of the home minister’s visit.
Shah also spent time with the family of Inspector Parvaiz Ahmad of J&K Police at his Nowgam residence in the outskirts of Srinagar who had been shot dead on June 22 when he was returning home after offering prayers at a local mosque. He also handed over papers of the job given to Ahmad’s wife by the government, sending across the message that the system will stand by the families of those killed by militants.
The Union Home Minister also had a message for the youth of Kashmir. He said that “God has made Kashmir as heaven with its natural beauty, but PM Modi wants to see peace, prosperity and development here as well. For that, I have come here to seek support from the youth of Kashmir. The administration has lent a hand of friendship, youth clubs have been created, you have been given a platform, an opportunity, so come forward and take this opportunity. Make democracy stronger here, let the youths respond to the elements who try to make people go astray.”
Shah also used this visit to further BJP’s political agenda, reiterating his party’s political narrative on Kashmir, the home minister said that “two families” had held J&K to ransom until BJP came to its rescue. While this political rhetoric may be exaggerated, it undoubtedly has some substance in it. He went on to say that elections will happen, but politicians from Kashmir want that the Delimitation process should be stopped only because it hurts their politics, making it clear that now such beneficial initiatives will not stop in Kashmir. The youth of Kashmir will get opportunities, so a right delimitation will be done, which will be followed by elections and then the status of the statehood will be restored. “I have said this in the country’s Parliament and this is the roadmap,” he added.
In an attempt to send across a stern message to militants as well as boost the morale of security forces, Shah extended his 3-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and spent a night at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Campus in Pulwama, the place where a suicide car bomb attack occurred in February 2019, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers.
While reacting to National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s demand for holding talks with Pakistan, Shah asserted that since “people of Kashmir have as much right on the country as I do”, so, if talks on J&K have to be held, then he would speak to “my brothers and sisters in the Valley, and the youth in the Valley”- not with Pakistan!
Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated a direct international flight service between Srinagar and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, which is really a big boon for locals. After his visit, Shah also captured some mesmerising aerial shots of snow-capped mountains of Pir Panchal after the first snowfall of the year and shared these on his Twitter handle, and reminding tourists that Kashmir was ‘paradise on earth’ owing to its breath-taking scenic beauty, urged them to visit Kashmir.
(The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, TV Commentator, Political Analyst and Columnist. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).)