Millennium Post (Kolkata)

J&K peaceful, sees remarkable progress post-Article 370: Sinha

L-G Manoj Sinha says stone-pelting ended, normalcy restored in education and business, tourist numbers surged

- I do not believe this

It has been four and a half years since the Modi government abrogated Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and three years since Lieutenant General Manoj Sinha was picked up to head the Union Territory. He spoke to Simontini Bhattachar­jee in Srinagar on Monday on how the administra­tion has carved out a path to take the border Union Territory on the road to people-oriented developmen­t, ushering in economic prosperity and effectivel­y controllin­g terrorism. Here are excerpts

Q: How would you describe the significan­t changes witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370? Evaluate the perceived benefits of revoking this Article.

Ans:

The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir has significan­tly benefited around 65 lakh women, particular­ly addressing issues like deprivatio­n of fundamenta­l rights upon marriage outside the state. Post-August 5, 2019, positive changes include SC community reservatio­n in Panchayats, rights for Pakistanoc­cupied Jammu and Kashmir (POAJK) residents, and empowermen­t for West Pakistan refugees. Reforms extend to representa­tion for Kashmiri Pandits, special rights for Schedule Tribes, and recognitio­n for the Pahari community.

Under Prime Minister Narendra

Modi's governance since 2019, approximat­ely 1.25 crore people have been empowered. Noteworthy improvemen­ts include the end of stone-pelting, normalcy in education, business, and daily life, and a surge in tourist numbers from 1 lakh 68,000 to 2 crore 12 lakh. Over 52,000 projects have been completed, attracting around Rs 90,000 crore in new industrial investment­s, fostering economic growth.

Holistic agricultur­e plans aim to transform the lives of 13 to 14 lakh families, offering an increased additional budget. With 70 per cent of the population dependent on agricultur­e, this initiative holds significan­t promise. Terrorism incidents have seen a notable decline, ensuring the safety of civilians and security personnel. Overall, the region has experience­d ten-fold developmen­t, reflecting positive changes in various sectors.

Q: The recent passage of three bills adding seven tribal communitie­s to the ST list has potential implicatio­ns for political demography. How might this impact the election in the region?

Ans:

Elections do not concern me. PM Modi's government avoids vote bank politics. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in a Parliament speech, clarified in the Parliament also that ST communitie­s, people will be fully facilitate­d with their fundamenta­l rights. The ST Commission submitted a report to the Tribal Affairs Minister based on recommenda­tions, emphasizin­g a commitment beyond electoral gains.

Q: The recent amendments giving the Election Commission control over Panchayat and municipali­ty elections, along with the removal of the state election commission­er, are expected to change the electoral process in the UT. How do you anticipate these changes?

Ans: No confusion here. Across the country, the process remains consistent. Panchayat elections used to involve the state election commission­er nationwide. However, a positive shift has been made with the local body elections.

Q: Delimitati­on and the update of electoral rolls have occurred in Jammu and Kashmir. Is it a suitable time to conduct elections now? Additional­ly, when might the region regain statehood?

Ans:

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in their addresses to Parliament, highlighte­d the sequence of delimitati­on first, election second, and statehood at the appropriat­e time. Delimitati­on was deemed necessary, resulting in an increase of 7 Assembly seats. The Election Commission of India formed the Delimitati­on Commission, supervised by Justice Ranjana Desai, who visited Jammu and Kashmir. The commission's report led to the delimitati­on process, altering seat boundaries. Consequent­ly, the upcoming 2024 elections will adhere to new norms, accommodat­ing numerous new voters. Following the Supreme Court's decision, the Assembly election is slated to take place by September of this year.

Q: Given its border status, Jammu and Kashmir grapple with security challenges and terrorism. What measures are in place to counter cross-border terrorism, and what specific threats does the region face?

Ans:

Our army is stationed along the border, and in various locations in Jammu, Border Security Force personnel are deployed to prevent crossborde­r infiltrati­ons.

Q: The region has witnessed targeted killings of civilians, police personnel, and migrant labourers. Do these incidents signify a new phase of terrorism?

Ans: represents a new face of terrorism. While unfortunat­e incidents and casualties have occurred recently, the Jammu and Kashmir police, along with forces, are actively responding. They have implemente­d a comprehens­ive 360-degree security plan to ensure safety.

Both

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in their addresses to Parliament, highlighte­d the sequence of delimitati­on first, election second, and statehood at the appropriat­e time’

Q: Is there evidence of outsiders acquiring non-farmland in Jammu and Kashmir? Concerns are raised about potential demographi­c shifts; how are these concerns being addressed?

Ans:

This allegation is baseless and driven by political interests. Regarding agricultur­al land, the laws are comparable to those in Uttarakhan­d and Himachal Pradesh. Non-domiciled individual­s in Jammu and Kashmir cannot acquire agricultur­al land. However, for industries, we are facilitati­ng the provision of land.

Q: Prime Minister Modi is set to visit the valley for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370. What impact do you foresee this visit will have?

Ans:

His visit is not solely linked to the abrogation of Article 370. Given the vastness of the country, ministers routinely visit various regions, including Srinagar in the valley. This visit reflects his genuine interest and care for the valley, generating excitement among people who eagerly anticipate participat­ing in his rally.

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