The Kashmir 'Integration': Lest the Home Minister forgets

It is instructive to return to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s speeches made in Parliament in Aug 2019. Since then, China has laid claim to Ladakh and terror activities have increased in J&K

The Kashmir 'Integration': Lest the Home Minister forgets
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Shalini Sahay

Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, had to go, said Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament in August, 2019, “as it was the root of terrorism in the state and was the biggest hurdle to normalcy”.

"Nothing will happen... It won't be allowed to turn into another Kosovo," he said, addressing concerns raised by various opposition leaders. "It was heaven on earth and will remain so."He said full statehood would be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at "appropriate time" and after "normalcy" returned.

"Article 370 was the root of terror in Jammu and Kashmir. It is time for it to go... if it doesn't go today, we can't remove terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir," Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha. PM Modi praised the speech as "extensive and insightful" and said it "accurately highlighted the monumental injustices of the past and coherently presented our vision for the sisters and brothers of J&K."

Article 370, said Shah, had ruined Jammu and Kashmir, stalled its development, prevented proper health care and education and blocked industries.The "obstacle of Article 370" had to be removed to integrate the region with the rest of India and develop it, he added.

No doctor wanted to go to Kashmir because of Article 370, said Shah. He added that industry, healthcare, and education in Kashmir was stalled due to Article 370, which was used to inflame the youth and separate the youth from the mainstream.

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Excerpts from the Home Minister’s speeches in Parliament:

We have done a lot for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, youth have got jobs, children are getting midday meals, widows are getting the benefits that they are entitled for, senior citizens are getting old age pension, the Prime Minister’s card through which they can get medicines worth Rs 5 lakh. We are not trying to alienate the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they are our brothers and sisters, we want to embrace them.

So far, only three families were running the entire government in Kashmir. Now, 40,000 people are appointed as Panch and Sarpanch in various villages in Kashmir, we have given power to the people, instead of taking it away from them.

The peace-loving people of Kashmir are not scared any more, they are happy that after 70 years, the state is finally free from the clutches of three families. People who want to disintegrate the country are the ones who are under fear.

Insaniyat, jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat’ is still working in the state. We will not let Kashmiriyat be diluted. Kashmiriyat does not mean shedding blood, it means staying with India, protecting the culture of India and Kashmir. Who built Kashmir? Where are those people who built Kashmir and stand for Kashmiriyat? We will protect Kashmiri culture.

Article 370 is not permanent, we have not changed our stand on it. Both the bills that I am presenting today is for the welfare of Jammu and Kashmir. Whenever the Election Commission says, we will conduct elections in the state. We want to restore peace in the state.

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We’ve also taken steps for Kashmiri Pandits who were evicted from J&K, we’ve increased the relief pay in 2015 from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000. In 2018 it was increased to Rs 13,000 and this money reaches straight to the claimants’ accounts through direct benefit transfer. J&K govt has reserved 3,000 posts in the govt for Kashmiri Pandits for which the recruitment process has begun and 600 posts have been filled so far.

Mr. (Asaduddin) Owaisi was asking me what this govt had done for the Pandits, I hope he’s listening to me. We’ve built 6,000 transit centres for the Pandits in the valley. Now people who were evicted from Jammu too will get relief pay.

The government has awarded Rs 5.5 lakh to people who were evicted from PoK and Chhambh sector and I’m happy to announce that so far Rs 1,100 crore have been transferred to the accounts of 26,900 people, something that hasn’t happened for 70 years. This is why people don’t trust governments, people doubt governments. Refugees from West Pakistan are also being given an aid of Rs 5 lakh.

We have sanctioned up to Rs 5 lakh for people who are injured in cross-border firing, up to Rs 50,000 for the loss of cattle, in Poonch, Rajouri and (in) other districts we started the construction of 15,000 bunkers. 44,000 bunkers have already been constructed. We have sanctioned the position for two border battalions, 2000 new special police forces, there induction and training is already on. We have given 7 per cent reservation for people at the border.

41,000 new posts have been created in the state under Himayat, Udaan and PMKY schemes. 2.75 lakh youth are being trained, more than 18,000 people are being given PM scholarship. Youth are being taken all across the country and made to feel that they belong to the country.

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NSA Ajit Doval shares food with some locals in Srinagar in 2019
NSA Ajit Doval shares food with some locals in Srinagar in 2019

CRPF men work all over the country, maintain law and order situation, work in naxal areas and other areas but in Jammu and Kashmir there is a different situation, the terrorism there is Pakistan-sponsored, therefore there was a special kind of demand for men who are posted there.

Their demands included high security vehicles, modern guns, commando training centers and other things. I am pleased to tell the Parliament that we have spent Rs 7 crore and agreed to all their requirements. The CRPF DG has told me that this is the first time in history after independence that all their requirements have been met by the government.

There was an issue of coordination because a number of agencies work in the state including — Army, IB, R&AW, CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir police and other agencies. Multi-disciplinary monitoring group has been formed in the state, so that all the agencies can work in coordination and work in tandem.

People are talking about killing of democracy, but I want to tell the Parliament that out of 132 times that the President rule was implemented, Congress government went for President’s Rule 93 times and they will tell us what to do? There is a reason that we went for President’s Rule. Congress used it for their own political gains.

Why did the Congress never put a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, who did they want to please? it was the Narendra Modi government that finally put a ban on it. Who was JKLF trying to liberate all these years? J&K is an integral part of India, this is what we believe in. We put a ban on it. The kind of action in form of preventive arrest that we have taken against separatist groups has never happened under any other government.

There were training camps in jails in Kashmir, people were taught how to use AK-47, we improved the security inside jails and those who want to indulge in any such activities are now realising that they cannot do this under the BJP government.

In J&K, people who say anti-national things are being given security on the taxpayers’ money. This was never reviewed under the previous government, we reviewed this and out of the 2,000 people who were being given security cover because of anti-national activity, for 919 people security cover has been revoked. There were Pakistani channels that misled the youth of Kashmir. All such channels have been banned by India.

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When we say that we want development in J&K, it is not just a speech. In 2015, PM announced the first and biggest special package for the people of J&K. It covers all the regions including Leh, Jammu, Valley and the hills, it includes all the people of the state.

With this package there are 63 big development projects, 16 major roads, 8 power projects, 2 AIIMS, 2 IIMs, 1 IIT. There have been many announcements of packages… I went to review one such project which was claimed to be a bridge whose foundation was laid 32 years ago but in reality there are only 2 pillars constructed but no bridge in sight but the Narendra Modi government has given a new work culture where if a project’s foundation stone is laid then the project is executed in time.

Almost 82 per cent funds have been allotted, about 44 per cent of tenders have been issued and so far, 16 projects have been inaugurated by the PM and the HM.

According to records 45 per cent of land of J&K comes under the Ladakh region but conducting elections in regional units has not been possible so far as they are scattered across the region. But we’ve created Hill Councils and begun the process of elections like village panchayats hence fulfilling their right to development and this is the first time after independence that people of Ladakh feel that through Hill Councils they have control of their allocated budget.

People in Ladakh expressed that they were inexperienced administratively hence we decided the budget allocated to the Hill Councils will be cumulative and will not lapse at the end of fiscal year.

Srinagar-Leh transmission line has been completed, the foundation has been laid for a solar power plant in Kargil, 2 new degree colleges have been opened in Ladakh, 5 new tourist circuits and 5 new trekking paths have been created and so far 170 trekking groups have already used these paths which is an achievement for Leh-Ladakh.

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