Reyaz Rashid

Assembly polls after electoral rolls are published: Amit Shah

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Thousands throng HM’s rally in Baramulla as ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai' slogans reverberate

  • No talks with Pak, will talk with people of J&K
  • From terrorist hotspot, we made J&K a tourist hotspot
  • PM Modi ensured democracy reaches grass root level
  • Mehbooba ji, Farooq sahab handed over stones and guns to youths; Modi ji handed over mobiles and laptops

Baramulla: Ruling out possibility of talks with Pakistan, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said Assembly polls will be held with “full transparency” in Jammu and Kashmir after the Election Commission publishes the revised electoral rolls.

Addressing a public rally in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Shah lashed out at those advocating dialogue with Pakistan.

“…I don’t want to talk to Pakistan but I want to talk to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Urging the youths to shun the path of violence, Shah said terrorism has claimed 42,000 lives in Jammu and Kashmir since the 1990s and asked whether it has ever benefited anyone.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has almost ended the ecosystem of terrorism in J&K, Shah said, adding the Modi government does not tolerate terrorism and wants to wipe it out.

“We want to make Jammu and Kashmir the most peaceful place in the country,” he said.

Shah said due to the improved security situation, 22 lakhs tourists have visited Jammu and Kashmir this year so far.

“Earlier it was a terrorist hotspot but today it is a tourist hotspot. Imagine how many people have benefited from this,” he said.

He blamed the families of the Abdullahs (National Conference), Muftis (PDP) and Nehru-Gandhi (Congress) for the “lack of development” in Jammu and Kashmir as they ruled the erstwhile state for most of the time since the country’s independence.

“Those people who ruled here for 70 years advise me to talk to Pakistan. I have a clear intention that I don’t want to talk to Pakistan, but I want to talk to my Gujjar, Pahari and Bakerwal brothers of Baramulla.

“I will talk to the youth of Kashmir. Think, what did Kashmir achieve because of militancy? Today, every state of the country is moving forward, and Kashmir will also have to keep pace. We don’t have to tread the path shown by terrorists.

“The youth of Kashmir will tread the path of country’s development, will join the corporate sector after securing education and jobs. Modi is taking the country forward. I appeal to you to support him,” Shah told the jam-packed stadium.

The Home Minister also used the occasion to announce that the political process has been initiated in the union territory.

“I want to assure you that once the Election Commission completes the electoral rolls exercise, elections will be conducted in Kashmir with full transparency so that your elected representatives govern here.”

Shah said some people often talk about Pakistan but he wanted to know “how many villages in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir have electricity connections”.

“We have ensured in the last three years that all villages in Kashmir now have electricity connection,” he said.

Coming down heavily on the three political families for the second consecutive day, the home minister alleged that their rule was full of misgovernance, corruption and lack of development.

“Mufti and company, Abdullah and sons and the Congress have done nothing for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he alleged.

The home minister repeated what he had said at his rally in Rajouri on Tuesday that earlier, power in Jammu and Kashmir was with three families, 87 MLAs and six MPs.

“Now 30,000 people, who were elected representatives of panchayat and district councils, are part of the governance process,” he said.

He said the first work done under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that democracy has reached the grass root level.

Shah said due to Article 370, there was no reservation for the SCs and STs but after its abrogation, quota benefits could be given to Gujjars, Bakarwal and Paharis.

“Everyone will get their due share under the reservation. There will be no loss of share for anyone,” he said.

Shah announced that ST reservation benefits will be given to the Pahari community along with Gujjar and Bakarwal communities following a recommendation of the Sharma Commission.

He said that Rs 56,000 crore investment has come to Jammu and Kashmir in the last three years which will give employment opportunities to five lakh people, while just Rs 17,000 crore investment had come since independence.

“Today I have come to ask Farooq Abdullah Sahab and Mehooba Mufti ji to give an account of how much investment has come into Jammu and Kashmir during their rule of 70 years. How many industries had come up? How many factories were set up and how many youths benefited from employment?” Shah said.

The home minister said the Modi government has given one lakh houses to the poor in Jammu and Kashmir.

He alleged that rampant corruption led to underdevelopment in Jammu and Kashmir and said the Modi government has ensured that every rupee being spent goes to those most deserving.

He said even though 42,000 people lost their lives due to terrorism, no politician lost his son.

The home minister said, “Mehbooba ji and Farooq sahab handed over stones and guns to the youths but Modi ji, by bringing industries to the Valley, has handed over mobiles and laptops to these youths so that they are able to find employment,” he said.

He said it was the third day of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir and he was happy to see that development has taken place in the union territory.

“Some days back, I read a tweet from Mehbooba Mufti in which she had asked me to give an ‘account’ of our work.

“Mehbooba Ji, keep your eyes and ears open. You along with Farooq (Abdullah) sahab should see what we have given and compare it with the rule of three families over the last 75 years,” he said.

Shah said all states have an Anti-Corruption Bureau except Jammu and Kashmir and alleged that the “three families” were responsible for stalling it.

“I wonder why they did not allow it,” he said.

Meanwhile, long queues with people jostling to enter through two narrow gates and excitement writ large on their faces, thousands flocked the Showkat Ali Stadium where Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a rally on Wednesday.

The highest turnout was from Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts in north Kashmir.

People walked up to the venue as vehicles were stopped at a distance from the stadium due to security considerations.

It was a long wait for the people to get in as the security personnel made sure to thoroughly frisk them.

At the venue, BJP supporters were seen dancing to the sounds of beating drums and blowing flutes.

In between, army helicopters made sorties and the crowd cheered.

“We are very excited to welcome the home minister to Baramulla. There is a lot of ‘josh’ (enthusiasm) among the people here,” Fayaz Khan, a resident of Kupwara said.

Toufeeq Ahmad, a resident of Karnah, told PTI, “We have so many hopes from the home minister’s visit. This is the government that does what it says.”

He welcomed the announcement on reservation made by Shah in Rajouri and said the people wanted to see it implemented soon.

The home minister had on Tuesday announced that the Gujjar, Bakerwal and Pahari communities in the Union territory will get reservation benefits in accordance with the recommendations of the Justice Sharma Commission.

“Our forefathers struggled for this. The announcement has brought a wave of happiness. But we want the home minister to implement this decision sooner,” Ahmad said.

A large number of women were also present at the rally and sought their grievances to be addressed.

Ruksana Bano, a resident of Baramulla, said, “There are many developmental issues which should be addressed on priority. We need proper water supply and electricity. There is a price rise and unemployment. Our children need jobs.”

Many locals said the rally was arguably among the largest ones held in Baramulla so far.

As Shah arrived, “Har har Modi, Har ghar Modi” slogans reverberated in the air. The minister walked up to the podium and bowed in acknowledgement to the cheers.

He started his speech that lasted for less than half-an-hour with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and later walked up to the people and shook hands with them.

Shah pauses speech for ‘Azaan’

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday briefly stopped his speech during a rally in Baramulla district as ‘Azaan’ or Muslim call to prayer was going on from a nearby mosque.

Five minutes into his about half-an-hour speech at Showkat Ali stadium, Shah paused and asked those on the stage “if something was going on at a mosque”?

When someone on the stage told him that ‘Azaan’ was going on, Shah stopped his speech, attracting a huge round of applause and chanting of slogans in his favour from the gathering.

After a brief moment, he said the call for prayer has now stopped and asked if he would continue his speech.

“Should I start or not? Say it loudly, should I start,” he asked and then went on with his speech.

HM visits family of slain cop in Uri

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday visited the family of policeman Mudasir Sheikh who was killed in an encounter in Baramulla district of north Kashmir earlier this year, officials said.

They said Shah along with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and MoS PMO Jitendra Singh went to Sheikh’s residence in Uri, 100 kms from Srinagar.

Shah met Sheikh’s family and interacted with them.

The officials said the Union home minister took the mountainous terrain to reach the slain special officer’s residence.

“He had the route changed and went all the way through the tough route to meet the martyred family,” the officials added.

Later, the Union Home Minister visited Sheikh’s graveyard and prayed for the departed soul, the officials said.

Sheikh, working as a special police officer (SPO) in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, laid down his life while fighting three foreign terrorists of Jaish-e-Muhammad in an encounter at Najibhat Crossing in Kreeri.

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