Join fight against terror, Amit Shah urges Jammu and Kashmir youth

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Join fight against terror, Amit Shah urges Jammu and Kashmir youth
© Provided by The Times of India

SRINAGAR: Home minister Amit Shah reached out to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, asking them to join the fight against terrorism and take advantage of the opportunities that have opened up because of the Modi government’s development push.

“The 45,000 youth present here have to work to end terrorism, you have to be peace and development ambassadors and take the message to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir that this (terrorism) is not the way to end our life,” Shah said on his first visit to Srinagar after the nullification of special status for the erstwhile state of J&K, which is now a Union Territory.

READ ALSO: Targeted killings focus of Shah meet in Jammu & Kashmir

Shah said he wants a friendly bond with the youth as they are the future of the nation. He, however, struck a firm note while referring to the change in the status of J&K. “August 5, 2019 will be written in golden letters. It was the end of terrorism, nepotism, corruption… J&K youth has to contribute to the development of the UT. It is their responsibility… The day will come when J&K will contribute a lot to the country.”

Shah slammed the political parties in J&K for their criticism of the changes in the constitutional arrangement in August 2019, saying they were upset because of the loss of their political hegemony. “Those who are making a noise are doing so because jamhooriyat (democracy) has come out of the custody of three families and it now belongs to the poor,” Shah said while taking a dig at the Gandhis, Abdullahs and the Syeds.

The minister, who addressed members of youth clubs from different regions in J&K via video link, said that contrary to the allegations of the political families, democracy has been broadened under the new dispensation, with the panchayat polls giving youth a share in decision-making. “With the introduction of the three-tier panchayat system, the youth of J&K have the biggest opportunity, only the youth of the village can become panch, sarpanch and district panchayat members. They can also become MLAs and MPs, even CM.”

“What did 70 years of jamhooriyat give, 87 MLAs, six MPs and three families? Prime Minister Modi has ensured the election of 30,000 representatives in such a short time,” he said.

Shah, who also inaugurated a flight between Srinagar and Sharjah over a video link, justified the suspension of the internet, curbs on mobile telephony and long spells of curfew in the wake of the nullification of Article 370 and the elimination of Article 35A, saying they helped save the lives of thousands of youth. He said that those who questioned the curfew and communications blackout “don’t know how many lives would have been lost”.

“The decision was questioned on so many platforms but they helped save lives,” he said as he reiterated the promise to restore statehood after the delimitation exercise was completed and elections held.

He debunked the view that the end of J&K’s special status would give a fillip to terrorism, something that has gained currency in certain quarters after the targeting of outsiders, non-Muslim locals, police personnel and BJP workers. “Some people claimed that terrorism will increase. The fact is that it has come down and stone-pelting is not to be seen anywhere,” he said, ruling out a repeat of the situation in the 1990s when terrorism was rampant. “We will deal strictly with those who want to disturb the peace of J&K,” he said.

Shah claimed that the youth have responded well to initiatives taken after the Modi government took charge of the UT. “The youth of Kashmir, who until two-and-a half years ago would be in the news only because of stone-pelting, terrorism and violence, are talking about development, employment and educational scholarships,” Shah said, contrasting the situation in Kashmir with that prevalent in PoK.

“No other state has such an attractive industrial policy and that is why Rs 12,000 crore investment has come in after the new policy was rolled out. This when the state had got a total Rs 5,000 crore in the seven decades since Independence. I am sure that by 2022 the state will cross the Rs 50,000-crore mark,” he said.

Shah said that three families had ruled J&K for 70 years. “Why were 40,000 people killed during their reign? Is there any explanation to those killings,” Shah asked.

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