Home Minister’s Visit

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From stone-pelting; deafening bangs of grenades and bombs; strikes and shutdowns; pro-Pak and pro-Azadi slogans to Bharat Matta Ki Jai slogans in a massive rally held by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in the heart of north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Kashmir seems to have moved ahead. As rightly pointed out by Shah during his address, the Valley, which used to be in the news always for bad reasons, is experiencing an, almost, violence-free atmosphere. Gone are the days when the Valley would shut on the visit of every Union Government minister and the local authorities would have to impose restrictions on the movement of people, shut down internet, close down vital roads but still there would be violence on the streets. People would die, get injured and properties would get destroyed. However, this time round, when Union Home Minister Shah reached Kashmir, there was no strike, no restrictions and no closing down of internet. He addressed a massive rally in Baramulla town, once hot-bed of separatists, visited Uri near the Line of Control (LoC), prayed at Gurdawara Chatti Padshahi in Srinagar’s Rainawari area and everything was normal. It was business as usual thus indicating that Kashmir and Kashmiris have made a move towards normalcy and peace. It is a positive sign as this move has ensured that no more people die violent deaths. People may have different opinions about what happened on August 05, 2019, but it goes without saying that since then there have been very few civilian deaths due to violence and there has been not a single blindness due to pellet guns. This is being appreciated and appreciated widely.

That said, the Union Government must keep itself abreast with the developments here. It should look deeper and find ways to make Kashmiris connect with the rest of the country psychologically and emotionally. For that to happen, the people here need to be given a sense of belonging. Their voices need to be heard and they should be given a chance to decide whom they want to run the affairs of the Union Territory. The Home Minister, during his address at Baramulla made it clear that elections to the J&K assembly will be held once the voter lists are completed. This commitment has given people hope that finally they will be in a position to elect their representatives. India is world’s largest democracy and Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part. The people here deserve what their counterparts in rest of the country are having. A basic right to chose your own representatives and not be governed by bureaucrats. Now that the Home Minister has made a commitment about holding of elections, the same should be honoured. The administration her should be geared up and directed to complete the preparation of voter lists at the earliest so that the Election Commission of India can take a call on holding of elections here without any further delay. A peaceful, violence-free and economically thriving J&K with its own government in place is what people here desire and respecting that desire is the duty of the Union Government.

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