Saying he was extending a “hand of friendship”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah sought the cooperation of the Valley’s youth for peace and development and exhorted them to strengthen democracy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing members of the youth clubs set up by the government at panchayat level, he said, “I have come here to extend friendship. Come and connect with Modi ji, connect with the Government of India… I have come here to seek your cooperation. The administration has extended its hand of friendship towards you.”
Officials in J&K administration said over 40,000 youth were connected through video conferencing and attended the event.
Shah said no one would be allowed to disrupt peace in Kashmir. “Come forward and strengthen the democracy here. From the perspective of peace, development, and infrastructure, this is the ideal situation, and no one would be allowed to stop it,” he said.
The Union Home Minister said elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held after the delimitation exercise is over. “Some people say they will not allow delimitation. Why should it not happen? Delimitation will happen, elections would follow, and then statehood would also be restored.”
Referring to panchayats and District Development Council elections, Shah said his government had opened these opportunities for the youth. Taking a dig at the political families in the Valley, he said, “What did 70 years of jamhooriyat (democracy) give: 87 MLAs, six MPs and three families… but Shri Narendra Modi has given 30,000 elected representatives in such a short time. Those who are making a noise are doing so because jamhooriyat has come out of the custody of three families, and it now belongs to the poor. Shri Narendra Modi brought democracy to the grassroots level.”
The Union Home Minister said curfew in the Valley and a ban on internet in the aftermath of abrogation of Jammu Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into two Union territories was done to safeguard Kashmiri lives. “For some time you suffered, but it only saved your children… when the situation normalised, we opened everything,” he said.
Asking the youth to set bigger targets, Home Minister Shah wanted them to use all opportunities that came their way. “One thing you should always remember. Everyone’s life is full of opportunities. Now it depends whether you want to move forward with a negative mindset or an optimistic mindset… Don’t set small targets, don’t think, whether you could complete it or not. Just set the target and move in that direction with speed. God will definitely support you,” he said.
He said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir had improved after the abrogation of the special status. “From 2014 to 2021, every year only 30 people died. Terrorism has decreased and stone pelting has ended. Nobody would be allowed to disrupt the peace in Jammu and Kashmir. We will deal with them strictly. No one would be allowed to interrupt development. It is our commitment,” he said.
“Till now more than 4,0000 people have lost their lives. Should we end it or not? Can development coexist with terrorism?” he asked. While the government can make efforts to end terrorism, it is the youth who can end it. “It is the youth who have to end terrorism, you have to do it. You have to become the ambassadors of peace and development,” he said.
Without naming them, Shah said he also wanted to seek an account from the three families. “Earlier, students used to go to Pakistan. We have built seven new medical colleges and 11 nursing colleges. There is no need to move out of the valley. This should have happened many years ago. In 2014, there were only 500 medical seats here. Today, there are 1,150 MBBS seats… We have NIT, IIM and polytechnic colleges now. Tell us why they didn’t come in 70 years.”
He said Jammu and Kashmir is the first place that has administered the first dose of coronavirus vaccine to 100 percent people and the second dose to 50 per cent of its population. “As per the population, Jammu and Kashmir was given the highest oxygen plants. It is because J&K has a special place in Modiji’s heart,” he said.