AS an initiative of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, his ministerial colleagues will be visiting Jammu and Kashmir later this week to speak with people about developmental policies and steps taken by the Central government since August 5 last year when it decided to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the erstwhile state into Union territories.
Of the 36 ministers scheduled to visit the Union Territory, only five — G Kishan Reddy, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shripad Naik, Niranjan Jyoti and Ramesh Pokhriyal — will be addressing people in the Kashmir Valley. The remaining ministers will visit districts in Jammu.
In a January 14 letter to J&K Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy said, “Hon’ble Minister Shri Amit Shah ji has desired that all members of the Union Council of Ministers shall pay a visit to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the Government policies with regard to the overall development of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and its people along with the steps taken by the government of India in this direction particularly in the last 5 months…”
The week-long visit beginning this Saturday, January 18, will see ministers heading out to different districts in both Jammu and Kashmir. While Reddy would travel to Ganderbal on January 22 and Manigam the next day, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad is slated to be in Baramulla on January 24. Pokhriyal, Naik and Niranjan will reach out to people in Srinagar. The Union ministers have been sent “background material” about the developmental activities “through email” and the ministers have been asked to inform the state Chief Secretary about their programme so that “necessary arrangements” at the field level to facilitate their visit.
According to sources, of the 59-odd places being visited by the ministers, as many as 51 are in Jammu. The remaining eight places are in Kashmir. This is part of the government’s outreach programme to directly interact with people, the sources said.
Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani is slated to visit Katra and Panthal areas of the Reasi district on January 19. Gen VK Singh (retd) is scheduled to visit Tikri in Udhampur on January 20 while Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju will visit Suchetgarh in Jammu the next day.
Power and renewable energy minister RK Singh will visit Khellani in Doda district. Anurag Thakur, Giriraj Singh, Prahlad Joshi, Renuka Singh, Jitendra Singh, V Murlidharan and Piyush Goyal are among the other ministers who have been deputed different districts in Jammu.