Home Minister’s J & K Visit: Follow Up Essential

Union Minister for Home and Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah was on a three day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

The agenda of the visit appeared to be three fold – gingering up the security administration, reaching out directly to the youth in the UT, the most impacted and due to which a number of so called hybrid terrorists have emerged and highlighting development carried out post August 2019, that is repealing of Article 370 as approved by the parliament.

On the political front Mr Shah stated that post delimitation, elections will be conducted to the UT and after polls, rejuvenating the UT as a State will be considered.

He ruled out talks with Pakistan. Shah said that Shri Farooq Abdullah has advised him that the Government of India should talk to Pakistan, but he said, “I want to tell Farooq sahib and especially all of you that if I want to talk, then I will talk to my brothers and sisters and the youth of the Valley”.

Thus, connecting with the youth appeared to be a major factor for the three day stay. He harped on elimination of corruption and side lining what he called, “three families who ruled for 70 years. The three families alluded to are possibly – the Nehru Gandhi, the Abdullah and the Muftis.

On the security front there are a number of interventions that have been approved mainly in the area of surveillance, intelligence, patrolling and barricading. Drone grids are being set up in those areas where the non-Kashmiri and migrant labourers have been living and in some places more CCTV cameras are getting installed. 80 families whose youth are absconding since long and possibly joined the terrorist ranks are being under watch

The emergence of what is known as “hybrid terrorists,” in the Valley is a key concern as it implies that the youth are taking to the gun without formally joining a terrorist group and possibly mainly on the instigation of the terror leaders.

Shah’s appeal has come about as it is feared that there is huge disgruntlement in the youth in Kashmir who are taking to the gun for random acts of violence. As per Al Jazeera there were 38 attacks in 20 days of this month which led to the death of 11 civilians, 17 rebels and 10 security personnel.

On the development front he harped on jobs given to more than 20,000 people without any claim or recommendation made nor a single person had to pay money. Progress made in delivery of gas cylinders, electricity 55,000 houses to people in Jammu and Kashmir, out of which more than 20,000 people have got houses, work of providing toilets in every household of Kashmir, pure drinking water from taps has also started in every household.

Mr Amit Shah also flagged off the first Srinagar-Sharjah direct flight which is symbolic in terms of encouraging development inviting tourists as well as business. The connectivity will also denote that influence exercised by Pakistan on the Gulf states may also be reduced.

Will the appeal by Mr Shah work in Kashmir remains to be seen?

This comes about as Army chief General MM Naravane visited the forward areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir on October 19 to review the security situation.

"In the evening, Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) left for Rajouri along with officers from the Northern Command in Udhampur and the Jammu-based White Knight Corps," an Army official was quoted by the media.

"The Army Chief visited forward areas of White Knight Corps and undertook a first-hand assessment of the situation along the Line of Control," he added.

A protracted encounter is ongoing in this area which has led to a number of Army casualties but success against terrorists has been limited.

Importantly on June 24, the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi met with a galaxy of political leaders from all parties including from at least two families that Mr Shah had mentioned in his speech.

This was supposedly a political initiative by the Government to reach out to the Valley’s mainstream political leaders. What has happened beyond is not publicly known.

Thus just at the Prime Minister’s political outreach a follow up of Mr Shah’s visit to J & K is essential for gains from these events.