‘3 families had created 14 ‘island seats’ in Kashmir, Comm strikes balance’
After 370 abrogation: No hartals, schools working, militancy down, separatists in jails
Modi has zero tolerance towards terror, BJP to contest polls with full force
JAMMU, Oct 6: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that during last three years since abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed unprecedented development in all sectors because of personal interest being taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it will be made an unending process.
Asserting that free, fair and transparent elections isn’t a mere talk as the Centre and UT Governments have shown this during Panchayat, BDC and DDC polls whose fairness was not even questioned by Abdullahs, Shah said the three families had created 14 “island seats” in the Valley for them and this monopoly has now been done away with by the Delimitation Commission. He said there were no reasons for the Government to delay the elections as they will be conducted by the Election Commission in consultations with security forces.
On BJP’s ‘Mission 50 Plus in J&K’ to form first ever Government on its own, Shah said the people will decide how many seats our party gets but we will fight the elections whenever they are held with full force. Referring to formation of new party by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad after parting way with the Congress, Shah said that he has come out of the tag of “three families’ rule”.
Shah’s free and frank 40 minutes interview with Daily Excelsior’s Editor-in-Chief Kamal Rohmetra and Jammu Bureau Chief Sanjeev Pargal on several issues including PM’s vision about J&K, Assembly elections in the UT, BJP’s prospects, administration & governance, Roshni, investments, militancy, use of narcotics for terror funding, drone activities, radicalization, party’s 2024 mission, chances in Gujarat and HP polls, plans for youth etc came during the Home Minister’s visit to Jammu.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: More than three years have passed since withdrawal of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Do you think the Centre’s plans behind abrogation of Article 370 have been fulfilled? What more is required to be done?
A: What couldn’t be done for Jammu and Kashmir during last 70 years, has been done in last three years. AIIMS, GMCs, IITs, IIMs and many other educational institutions have been opened. As against Rs 15,000 crore investments in 70 years, Rs 56,000 crore worth investments have come after that. Investments were possible only because of peace restored during last three years. Fifty five lakh tourists visited Jammu and 22 lakh in Kashmir this year. Jammu and Kashmir is the only State/UT where all people have been given benefits of Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha mooted the proposal for free Ayushman Bharat benefits to all people of Jammu and Kashmir and Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved it.
Q: How abrogation of special status impacted situation on security fronts?
A: Major benefit of Article 370 abrogation was that security agencies launched fierce assault on the militants and separatists. Militants’ recruitment has come down. It’s not easy now for the militants to operate. Earlier, separatists were encouraged but now they are behind bars. All militancy-related incidents have come down in Kashmir.
Q: Militancy has declined. Stoning has vanished. So, can we expect Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir next year?
A: Conduct of elections is responsibility of the Election Commission of India and security forces. Basic requirements for the polls like registration of electoral rolls is on. There were 14 Assembly seats in the Kashmir valley which were “main families’ seats” (a reference towards Abdullahs, Muftis and Gandhis). These were “island seats” of these families. One part of the seat was here and another part was 14 kilometres away in another village after two seats. I never saw such “luxury seats” in my political career. However, the Delimitation Commission did its work under parameters and restored equality of the segments.
Q: Any deadline for elections?
A: Delimitation exercise has been completed. Exercise for revision of electoral rolls is on. When this is done, the Election Commission will talk to the administration. We have no reasons to delay the elections.
Q: Whenever the elections are held will the BJP be able to accomplish its ‘Mission 50 Plus’ and whether J&K will get first BJP CM?
A: One thing I can assure is that the elections will be transparent. Elections will not be conducted like three families did. Who forms Government and which party gets how many seats will be decided by the people. None will decide this sitting in bungalows.
Q: But what will be the BJP’s role?
A: The BJP will contest the elections with full force. Earlier, Khaliq used to make MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir. Now, there will be no Khaliq model in the UT elections but there will be complete transparency in the polls. There was a time when candidates couldn’t file nomination papers without the consent of Khaliq. We are not just assuring transparent polls but we have done this in Panchayat, BDC and DDC elections. Even Abdullahs couldn’t level any allegation (against fairness of the polls). It’s our policy to hold free and fair polls. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government have controlled terrorism and there is wide spread development, Jammu and Kashmir will give the BJP a good response. I appeal to the people also for this. Earlier, democracy in J&K meant three families. 87 MLAs and six MPs. Now, we have 30,000 elected representatives (Panchayat, BDC and DDC members).
Q: How do you rate the working of Jammu and Kashmir administration?
A; The administration under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has brought complete transparency in working. As many as 225 Schemes have been made Online which is not an easy task. There can’t be no better transparency than this. In fact, transparency was a major casualty in J&K. For the first time during last two years, people saw electricity in winters. Fifty eight percent houses have been provided with pure tapped drinking water.
There are no hartals…no bandhs…educational institutions are working normally. When youth will study, they will get jobs. When we formulated Industrial Policy, we never expected such a response like Rs 56,000 crore private investment. There is no land left, otherwise the investments would have touched Rs one lakh crore. There is no land because land was looted in Roshni (Scheme). Had there been no Roshni, there would have been no ‘Andhera’ (darkness).
Q: What further steps are proposed by the Government in Roshni scam?
A: Some agencies are investigating it. And it won’t be good for me to speak on the subject. But whosoever big person he may, those who are involved in corruption won’t be spared. J&K administration is active against those involved in corruption. Major steps will be taken against the corrupt elements.
Q: Normalcy is visible to some extent in Kashmir but by when we should expect complete peace in the Valley?
A: Because of wrong policies since 1990, a triangle existed between separatists, militants and Pakistan-sponsored agencies. This was very strong nexus. It was not an easy task to break the nexus but we have done that. Now, there is no place for separatists and militancy. Though some incidents do take place but I can say with confidence that security forces have full command over the situation. Even if an incident occurs, it is responded quickly. The perpetrators are either neutralized or sent to the jail. As many as 42,000 people have been killed in the Valley. The numbers are more than total casualties in three wars.
Q: After decline in militancy, will any attempt be made by the Government to connect with the youth?
A: Jammu and Kashmir Government is already doing this. They have set up 4500 Youth Clubs. I talked to some of them. They are doing very good work. They helped pilgrims in stay, organize blood donation camps, distribute ration and ensure that there is no corruption. They are playing the role of watchdog
Q: What is your message to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir?
A: Don’t get misled even if one tries to do so. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is concerned about your future. It’s time now to identify them who kept J&K backward earlier.
Q: What role do you see for Ghulam Nabi Azad’s party in Jammu and Kashmir?
A: Everyone has right to contest elections. But it’s good that he (Azad) is now not a part of “three families”.
Q: Drone activities continue in the border areas. They carried arms, narcotics etc. What steps are being taken by the Central and UT Governments to meet this challenge?
A: This is a major threat but we are fighting this through the medium of technology. DRDO, BSF and other agencies are trying to work out technical solution to this. We have to make sure that even if a drone lands, the module is unable to work on earth. If authorities on ground are alert, they will tackle the situation. But definitely this is a problem and we are taking it as a challenge.
Q: Narcotics supplied through drones and other means is also being used for terror funding. How the menace will be tackled?
A: There is a three tier-process to meet the threat. There is Narcotics Control Bureau and other agencies. If a shopkeeper is arrested selling drugs, the investigators try to find out from where it came. If the drugs are seized on borders, the agencies work out where it had to go. From top to bottom and bottom to top, the investigations are conducted. During 2006-2013, the seizure of narcotics was to the tune of Rs 768 crore while from 2014-22, it went up to Rs 20,000 crore, During 2006-13, 1.52 lakh kgs narcotics was seized while from 2013-22, the seizure went up to Rs 3.33 lakh kg.
Q: What is your take on Assembly elections due in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat later this year. Some new political parties have become active there. Is there any threat to the BJP in these two States?
A: We are not worried at all (from the entry of new political parties). In democracy, you too can float a party and contest the elections. I’m 100 percent sure that the BJP will return to power in both these States with thumping victory.
Q: What chances do you see for the BJP in 2024 Parliamentary polls?
A: There is still time left for 2024 but entire country sees Prime Minister Narendra Modi with respect and faith. I can say this with confidence that Modi is most popular Prime Minister after independence of the country. Our victory in 2024 is certain.
Q: Any specific plan to tackle radicalization?
A: Wherever there is radicalization, we take action.
Q: How will you describe the situation in North East and Left Wing Extremism-infested areas?
A: Modi Government has zero tolerance policy towards militancy whether it is LWE, North East or any other State. This policy applies everywhere.