Maintaining that the situation is “completely normal” in the Valley, Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that prohibitory orders under Section 144 are not imposed in any of the 195 police stations of Jammu and Kashmir, except between 8 pm and 6 am.
He also said that school attendance stands at 98 per cent, and that a call would be taken on resuming internet services based on inputs from the J&K administration.
Shah said that not one death has been reported in police firing in Kashmir since August 5, when the Union government decided to scrap special status to the state and bifurcate it into two union territories. He said all “predictions of rivers of blood flowing after abrogation of Article 370” have come wrong.
In reply to a question, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishen Reddy admitted that the advisory board for looking into allegations against people detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) is yet to be constituted.
Amid cries of protest from Opposition leaders, especially Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is from J&K and is a former chief minister, the government also refused to talk about the detention of former CM and Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah under PSA. Reddy maintained that “various people have been incarcerated at various times” for “national security”.
Replying to NCP member Majeed Memon, who asked when normalcy will be restored in the Valley, Shah said: “The situation in Kashmir is completely normal. There are some misconceptions that are being spread, so I want to give the people, through this House, some details of the extent of normalcy there. Section 144 is lifted in all 195 police stations; incidents of stone-pelting have come down… 544 (stone-pelting incidents) this year against 802 last year; all 20,411 schools are open and examinations have been conducted; of 50,537 students in Class XI, 50,272 — that is 99.48 per cent — sat for their exams, as did 99.7 per cent students of classes X and XII.”
He said, “All hospitals and health centres in the Valley are open. Sales of petrol, diesel, LPG, rice, etc, have gone up by 8-16 per cent over the same period last year. The Valley’s apples are being procured, (and) the expected output is about 22.58 lakh metric tonnes.”
An irate Azad said he could contradict every answer, at which Shah retorted that it is not good to be stuck only with one’s own ideas. He dared Azad to prove the figures wrong.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu intervened and said he has already had a word with the Home Minister and the House would soon discuss the Kashmir situation in detail.
Shah went on to say that all media outlets are fully functional in J&K, as are government offices and banks. In all, 36,192 new cases have come to J&K High Court and more than 52,000 were disposed of, he said. “There was 98.3 per cent voting in 307 of 316 Block Development Council elections in October,” he said.
He also told the House that all 93,247 landlines and 59 lakh mobile phones are currently functional in J&K.
Azad said health and education are most affected because of suspension of internet services.
But Shah said, “There is absolutely no shortage of medicines anywhere. We have also started mobile medicine vans; drug stores inside hospitals are well-stocked… total number of OPD patients in Srinagar alone was 6,06,700. In October, 7.91 lakh people attended OPDs in Srinagar… in such a small city. There is no dearth of health facilities anywhere…”
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