Srinagar: Union home minister Amit Shah, who is currently in Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday lashed out at former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah for advocating a dialogue with Pakistan. Shah said he would only speak to people of the region and not anyone else.
The home minister is on a three-day visit to Kashmir which is witnessing a spike in violence especially against non-local civilians. Shah arrived in Srinagar on Saturday and has since met various government officials, security officials and has addressed youth clubs. He also visited Jammu province on his visit’s second day and returned to the Valley to address a public gathering and inaugurate various developmental projects. He is slated to also visit the CRPF troopers in Pulwama, according to official sources quoted by IANS.
“I read in today’s newspaper that Farooq Abdullah has suggested that I hold talks with Pakistan. He is experienced and has served as the region’s chief minister but, I want to say that if I have to talk, I will do that with people of the Valley and the youth of this place,” Shah said during his address.
Shah was addressing groups of administrative officials, political workers and members of panchayati raj, including panches and sarpanches of the Valley. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also declared that he was speaking openly “with no bullet proof glass or security”.
This is Shah’s first visit to the erstwhile state which was downsized into two Union territories after Shah announced the move, along with the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A on the floor of Parliament on August 5, 2019. The decision was termed as ‘unilateral’ by many and was carried out despite vehement opposition by Kashmir’s political parties, especially the National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The entire political leadership in J&K was detained as part of measures to thwart any opposition against the move following, with critics accusing the BJP-led government of an ‘unprecedented clampdown’ in the region and causing massive difficulty to the people. The parties formed a group -- People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) -- and warned of serious implications following the abrogation of Article 370 move.
Shah, called upon the people of J&K to remove “fear” from their hearts, while taking a dig at NC and PDP, whom he accused of being complicit in the region’s worsening situation.
“The three families who have ruled for 70 years whether they understand or not but we understand how much weight a son’s body puts on his father’s shoulders,” Shah said.
The Home Minister’s visit comes after fresh spate of civilian killings has triggered massive concerns of regional security among the security establishment and the non-locals working here that are being targeted prompting their immigration.
Shah, who visited the region amidst heightened security vigil and measures, said no one would be allowed to target civilians in Kashmir and that peace would prevail in J&K. On Sunday, a civilian apple picker was also allegedly killed near a CRPF camp.
“No one can disrupt peace and development in Kashmir. Those who want to disrupt peace ask me about why curfew was imposed and internet was snapped. If that would not have been done people would have fanned the emotions of youth and created a situation where they would have faced death,” Shah said.
Shah’s visit also comes at a time when armed forces are engaged in one of the worst gunbattles in Poonch-Rajouri region of Jammu close to the Line of Control. The encounter, which entered its 14th day, has reported 10 casualties of armed forces so far, another growing concern amongst the security establishment.