Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday ruled out any dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and said he would prefer to “engage with the youth of the Valley”.
Referring to National Conference (NC) president and Member Parliament Dr. Farooq Abdullah's recent suggestion to engage with Pakistan on Kashmir, Mr. Shah said, “Dr. Farooq sahib has suggested that I should talk to Pakistan. If I will talk, I will talk to people of J&K and its youth only, no one else.”
The Minister was speaking at a function in Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre.
Reiterating his outreach to the youth of Kashmir, Mr. Shah, who sported a traditional Kashmiri pheran ( a long woollen dress), said, “I have come with an open mind and am speaking my heart without a bullet-proof shield. I extended my hand of friendship to the youth.”
He said Kashmir was close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heart, and he keeps asking about the pace of development in J&K.
The Minister, who concluded his three-day tour of the Union Territory (UT) on Monday , did not engage with any mainstream regional parties during his stay.
On his first visit to the UT since revocation of J&K’s special constitutional position and downgrading to UT status in 2019, Mr. Shah also avoided spelling out any roadmap to take forward the earlier initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he convened an all-parties meeting in June this year.
Instead, Mr. Shah again targeted the regional parties, like the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ‘family rule’.
“There was a chief minister who would leave people suffering and spend six months in London every year. J&K will have a CM now who will stay with people in districts. Unlike the previous regimes, especially two families that ruled for 70 years, jobs will now be given to those only who deserve it,” Mr. Shah.
He also criticised the regional parties for “never condemning those who killed civilians".
“Under their (Abdullas and Muftis) leadership, 40,000 people have been killed. They never condemned the acts of militancy here. They never say who is killing them and they never condemn their acts. We assure you that peace will remain intact in J&K. No one will be allowed to kill civilians,” Mr. Shah said.
Stating that J&K now has 30,000 panchayat representatives, and people have cooking gas connections, tap water, electricity and health cover, the Minister asked, “Why Dr. Farooq and Mehbooba Mufti couldn’t do it in 70 years? The three families have exploited the youth and the people of J&K for the last 70 years.”.
The Union Home Minister said there were rumours that post reading down of Article 370, land and jobs of people would be snatched. “Give me one example, of any village, where land of any villager has been snatched,” he said.
He said the move to impose curfew and snap Internet has been done “to protect and save the lives of our youth”.
“Time has come that the bloodshed should end. J&K has to march towards a new journey of peace, development and prosperity. I promise J&K will get what it deserves by 2024,” he added.
Mr. Shah the government has succeeded in replacing guns with pens even in the militancy hot bed of Pulwama district.
In a bid to showcase normalcy in Kashmir, Union Minister Shah paid obeisance at the Kheer Bhawani temple in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and also attended a function at the Dal Lake in Srinagar.
Addressing CRPF personnel at the Lethpora camp in Pulwama in the evening, Mr.Shah praised the security forces.
“It was because of the professional handling of the Kashmir situation by the security forces post August 5, 2019 that not even a single bullet was fired by them. Some politicians had stated that a storm will take place, some claimed lot of people will come on roads, youth will do this is and that," he said.
The Union Minister said there was hardly any stone pelting incident in Kashmir, otherwise known for every day stone pelting incidents.