SRINAGAR: After a momentous meeting held with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, the delegation of Jammu Kashmir Apni Party led by its president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Sunday.
The meeting lasted for over two hours, was held in a very congenial atmosphere. The delegation put forth important issues pertaining to socio-economic and political aspiration of people of Jammu and Kashmir and demanded immediate steps by the government of India in this regard.
Calling for immediate confidence-building measures for making a conducive atmosphere in J&K, the delegation emphasized on fulfilment of the promises made by the Union Home Minister on the floor of the Parliament on August 6, 2019.
The Home Minister assured the delegation that all possible steps would be taken by the government of India to empower people of Jammu and Kashmir, both economically and politically as well. He expressed confidence that visible changes will be seen on the ground in the next three to four months.
Many issues were put forth by the delegation.
The delegation apprised the home minister about apprehensions with regard to demographic transformation in Jammu and Kashmir which needs to be dispelled by the country’s top leadership especially the Hon’ble Prime Minister, himself.
The delegation observed that the gulf between people of Kashmir and people in Jammu need to be reduced with a promise and purposeful assurance by the country’s top leadership that there shall be no discrimination in development and opportunities on the basis of region or religion. The delegation demanded that the majority community of J&K should be reassured that no steps would be taken that can affect a change in the demography of the region.
Responding to this issue, the Home Minister dispelled the notion about the likelihood of demographic changes in Jammu and Kashmir saying that any such changes are against the interests of the country. He said that the perception about demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir is figment of imagination which needs to be removed by one and all in the country especially in Jammu and Kashmir.
He fully assured the delegation that there would be no changes made in demography of the region and urged the people not to lend credence to such misinformation campaigns. He said the misgivings about disempowering the majority community in J&K are baseless and should not be paid any heed.
Release of Detainees
Responding to the demand for the release of political detainees, Shah said that the process has been set in motion to review these cases and shift and release all political detainees in a phased manner.
He, however, agreed to the instant demand placed by the delegation and assured that till their release, the political activists who are under preventive detention and are lodged outside J&K jails shall be allowed to talk to their families on the phone which would be facilitated by the authorities within a week.
Domicile Rights on Land and Jobs
During the course of the meeting, the Home Minister assured the delegation that Jammu and Kashmir will have a better domicile policy than other states in the country very soon and steps are being taken by the government of India in that direction.
Restoration of Statehood
The home minister assured the delegation that the commitment with regard to the restoration of statehood would be fulfilled after the delimitation exercise is conducted in Jammu and Kashmir.
Delimitation Process on Merit
The Home Minister assured that the process of delimitation will be carried out purely based on merit and there would be no scope for any changes to be made in boundaries and description of the extent of parliamentary constituencies without any rationalization.
J&K Bank’s functional autonomy
The union home minister assured the delegation that the government of India would ensure J&K Bank functions as an autonomous financial institution with negligible political or bureaucratic interference. He assured that all other issues related to the Bank like corporate lending, settlement process, advances to business community, recruitment processes, delayed results, cancellation of selection lists etc would be looked into on top priority.
Special Economic Package
The home minister assured the delegation that Jammu and Kashmir said that a reasonable Economic Development Policy will be drafted soon after widespread consultation that will cover all sectors including tourism, agriculture, horticulture, transport, handicrafts, hoteliers, houseboat owners, shopkeepers and industrial sector.
Shah told the delegation that a very attractive Industrial Policy will be announced soon for rapid economic development and a Land Bank has already been created. He said, for the last 70 years, J&K attracted Rs 13,000 Crore and expressed hope that by 2024 three times more investment will come in the region as there is huge potential for the same and investors are also willing to come forward. This will also solve the problem of unemployment in the region, he added.
The home minister said that youth is a very important asset of any nation and he would personally ensure that a comprehensive policy is framed for J&K youth to provide them opportunities and uplift their morale.
Return of Pandits
Shah said that the government of India is already working on the dignified return of return Kashmiri Pandits to their homes and he would need the support of all the stakeholders to make it possible.
The home minister promised that all necessary steps would be taken in that direction.
The home minister assured that development of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway which has been a source of perpetual distress for the people of the region will be taken up on an urgent basis.
He said that the cap on airfare will be also taken up with the concerned ministry and similarly construction of tunnels to connect different regions of Jammu and Kashmir would be taken up on priority.
Selective enforcement of central laws
Shah assured that all union laws and laws governing Union territory that are beneficial to the public would be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir without any selective approach. He assured that he will look into the non-applicability of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 in Jammu and Kashmir and address the issue accordingly