Home Minister Rajnath Singh is on four-day official visit to Kashmir. He is accompanied by high profile bureaucrats of his Ministry. Home Minister’ engagements for the first day of his visit comprised meeting with the Chief Minister and her civilian top brass, meeting with the Governor of the State and visit to Anantnag. Besides these, the Home Minister met with a large number of delegations from civil society. Obviously these delegations spoke about their problems and gave lists of their demands which will be considered by proper agency.
Home Minister’s meeting with the Chief Minister seems to have been along two components. Firstly, there was a compressive review of the implementation of various facets of the Prime Minister’s Developmental Project (PMDP) for J&K, under which the Prime Minister had accorded sanction to a hefty amount of rupees 80,000. Home Minister was briefed on what major projects were in hand, how many had been completed and how many would be completed within the time frame. It is no secret that J&K has not been able to implement most of the centrally sponsored projects within the stipulated time for some reason. It is a fact that owing to harsh winter in Kashmir and some hilly regions in Jammu division and Ladakh work days are much more limited than in the plains. This has adverse impact on the work culture. Secondly, it is also true that owing to intermittent disturbances in the valley and calls for strikes by the separatist leaders, there is obstruction in running normal life and labour force is not able to report for duty. The situation in Kashmir is that most of the labour force engaged by construction companies is from outside the State. Once situation in the valley becomes tense these labourers leave the valley for a place of safety and most of them do not return to the site of the work. These conditions put together are causing delay in the completion of the projects, however, this notwithstanding the Home Minister emphasized on all functionaries that the people could not wait indefinitely and that developmental projects had to be brought to completion.
This is a reflection of the perception of the Home Ministry about the indirect linkage between speeding up of developmental projects and reduction of militancy in the valley. In other words the Home Minister believes that while the security forces are dealing with those who are bent upon disturbing situation the more important and effective component is the development of the State and providing it necessary infrastructure. In this context he was adequately briefed by the seniors of State administration about the crucial component of road connectivity, four laning of the highway, tunnels and the related things. Out of 63 major projects 5 have been completed and 21 are in the process of being completed soon. In all more than 21 thousand crore rupees have been released for the ongoing projects and about 70 per cent of the PMDP allocations are in the melting pot. A comprehensive review of the developmental work has given the Home Minister an idea of the requirements of the State, availabilities and the possibilities. He was happy to know that the project of rehabilitating the flood victims of 2014 floods had been completed.
The review of PMDP as already said was or is one component of Home Minister’s meeting with the Chief Minister and high ranking state officers. The other component which could be easily called the political component also emerged during their meeting. The Chief Minister referred to the Agenda of Alliance and said that the commitments made therein have to be met with. She hinted albeit subtly about the commitment of centre finding a solution to the Kashmir juggernaut.
Finally, the Home Minister’s visit to Anantnag and his address to the police functionaries is a well chalked out programme. CRPF and State police force have made many valuable sacrifices and recognition of their sacrifices by the Home Minister is a matter of honour. He has saluted the martyrs who died for Kashmir and thus carved a niche for themselves in the hall of fame. They will be remembered for all times to come with their meritorious service. Home Minister announced that sanction was granted for purchase of bullet proof cars for Kashmir police as they were rendering sensitive service. One SHO who was gunned down by the militants had, a number of times asked for a bullet proof car but it was not provided.
Home Minister also had a long meeting with the Governor particularly on security issues. Militancy and terrorist attacks have lately increased in South Kashmir. NIA has intensified its activities of unearthing the illegally imported money. All these are sensitive matters. Home Minister’s four-day visit is crucial and we shall have to wait a couple of days more to find out what is the new trend in current situation in Kashmir.