On the third day of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir—his first after withdrawal of the erstwhile State’s special status and reorganisation on 5 August 2019—Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday made it clear that the Government of India would not talk to Pakistan for restoration of peace in the Union Territory.
Reacting to the suggestion of engaging Pakistan for resolution of the crisis and restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir from the two former Chief Ministers, namely Farooq Abdullah of National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Shah asserted that there would be no dialogue with Pakistan.
“We will talk only to our brothers and sisters of the valley; to our own youths. We have extended our hand of friendship to the valley’s youths. Our intentions are pretty much clear and sincere. Our youth are the drivers of the holy mission of the peace and development of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Rest assured, whatever Jammu and Kashmir deserved, it will be accomplished before the year 2024”, Shah said at a gathering of the representatives of the urban local bodies, Panchayati Raj Institutions, political parties and the civil society at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar.
Lashing out at the “three political dynasties”—Congress, NC and PDP—for their ‘equivocation’, Shah said that Kashmir’s traditional rulers had never condemned Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, let alone contesting it politically. “When somebody is killed, they just say it’s not good”, Shah said while holding the “three political dynasties” responsible for 40,000 killings in Kashmir and lending legitimacy to terrorism. He said that Kashmir’s traditional rulers were only misleading the youths and infusing into them a separatist sentiment by showing them the road to Pakistan and speaking highly of that country.
“Let it be clear to one and all that we will not allow any terrorist to kill anybody in Kashmir. We will uproot terrorism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of zero-tolerance to terror is clear”, Shah assured his audiences after attending a Sufism conference. He said that mysticism from Central Asia had entered India through Kashmir and its philosophy of communal harmony and non-violence had shaped this country’s culture and ethos for centuries.
Shah claimed that Pakistan had given nothing but the most miserable life to the people of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He said that there was no comparison in development between PoK and Jammu and Kashmir which, according to him, would grow as India’s best developed State/UT in the next two years. He gave details of the projects involving expenditure of thousands of crores of Rupees which were currently underway in Jammu and Kashmir.
Claiming that a new era of growth and development had begun under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in J&K with the transformation in August 2019, Shah said that the forces inimical to the UT’s progress were making desperate attempts to stop the engine of development. “Nobody will be allowed to block the tempo of J&K’s development that has started two years back”, Shah said.
“They try to stop the wheel of J&K’s development only to ensure that the valley’s youths languished in penury and remained bereft of education so that they pick up stones and arms and keep Kashmir turbulent. They questioned our decision of snapping the internet and imposition of curfew after 5 August 2019. Why did we do it? We did it only to ensure that not a single Kashmiri gets killed. We know the agony of the fathers who lose their sons in turmoil. Had we not snapped internet and imposed curfew for some time, the enemies of the Kashmiris would have misled the youths and raised their passions which would have triggered another spell of bloodshed. It was because of this that not a single bullet was fired and not a single individual died in firing (in the last 27 months)”, Shah asserted.
Shah said that curfew was lifted and internet restored immediately after the enemies of Kashmir’s peace lost their capacity of setting the valley on fire. He pointed out that normalcy had been fully restored, and after 5 August 2019, there was no stone pelting, clashes or mob attacks on security forces. “They told the Kashmiris falsely that the outsiders would occupy their lands and dislodge them. Panchayat representatives from all areas are here. Ask them if a single Kashmiri’s land has been occupied by an outsider. It was all their unfounded, malicious propaganda to generate suspicions and hatred vis-à-vis India. They have completely failed in it”, Shah said.
Later in the day Shah addressed a Sainik Samelan at a CRPF formation at Lethpora, Awantipora, in Pulwama district where 40 paramilitary personnel had died in a terror strike in February 2019. He stayed there for the night with the jawans and said that before his departure for New Delhi, at the end of his 4-day visit to J&K, he would be paying tributes to the martyrs at a memorial on Tuesday.
Early on Monday, Shah visited Mata Khirbhawani temple at Tulmulla in Ganderbal district and paid obeisance to the deity. He prayed for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is for the first time after 1990 that a Union Home Ministry paid a four-day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir. On the visit of all Prime Ministers and most of the Home Ministers, after 1990, there used to be complete shutdown in Kashmir over the call of separatists and militants. After 2008, on many of such visits authorities suspended telephone, SMS and internet services to ensure that the separatists didn’t create any trouble. The valley remained peaceful and the separatists marginalised 2011 through 2015.
However, the separatists and militants got a lease of life and they reclaimed their base immediately after the PDP President Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over as Chief Minister of the PDP-BJP coalition in 2015.
Kashmir witnessed the worst of turbulence and pro-Pakistan demonstrations during Mehbooba Mufti’s regime in the summer of 2016 when Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in Anantnag district. Fast deterioration in situation ultimately led to breakdown of the elected government and imposition of Presidents rule in 2018. A year later, the BJP Government with Shah as the main driver withdrew J&K’s special status and split it into the two UTs of J&K and Ladakh.