In a bid to communicate with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and convey to them how the removal of special status and bifurcation of the state will help the region develop, key Union ministers are likely to make frequent visits to address the public and interact with the masses.
“Today Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has visited Leh and addressed people there. Slowly but steadily more key ministers will visit the state. The idea is that ministers heading all key ministries must visit the state and interact with the people. As the situation improves, visits will also be made to the Kashmir Valley,” a senior Home Ministry official said.
Message of long-term engagement
As the government promises to gradually relax the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, the next step would require opening up political space in the state. The political executive will have to walk the extra mile to assure the public in the state that the Centre’s move was not merely an ideological political project. Visits by the political executive in the coming days have the potential to signal a long-term commitment beyond the immediate move.
Before Rajnath, Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda visited Ladakh on August 17, while MoS PMO Jitendra Singh has made multiple visits to the state. However, no minister has so far visited the Valley since August 5, when the Centre announced its moves regarding the state.
“The idea is that such visits will build confidence. The opportunity will be used to convey to the people all the government is planning to do for the development of the entire region,” the official said.
The government has formed a group of secretaries from all key ministries to plan long-term and short developmental goals for the state. The secretaries, with oversight from Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, have been asked to lay the roadmap for long-term development and ensure quick delivery of all central government schemes at the grassroots.
“Meetings are being held. It has been discussed that short-term development projects that can be quickly delivered must be worked on first. Long-term planning is also going on,” the official said.
A few teams of central officials have visited Srinagar while some of the level of joint secretary and secretary are expected to travel to the Valley in the coming weeks. The government is working on a plan to release detained political workers and leaders as things settle down in Kashmir. Internet, however, may remain shut for a prolonged period.