In less than a year, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah twice said that the Centre will not hold talks with the Hurriyat, Jamiat or Pakistan and speak with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir instead.
Speaking during the no-confidence debate in Lok Sabha recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken an "epoch-making decision" to bring about a change in Kashmir.
Amit Shah said today that the Centre will not hold talks with the "Hurriyat, Jamiat or Pakistan" and speak with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir instead.
"Article 370 was a mistake by the Jawaharlal Nehru government. It was abrogated by this parliament on August 5 and 6, 2019. With that, two flags and two constitutions were gone from Kashmir and PM Modi ensured its complete integration into the country," Shah said.
"An NGO inspired by them (Congress) held a meeting recently and released a report stating that the Centre should hold talks with the Hurriyat, Jamiat and Pakistan. We will not speak to the Hurriyat, Jamiat or Pakistan. If we hold discussions, we will hold them with the youth of the Valley. They are our own and we will talk to them," the Home Minister added.
On the steps taken in Kashmir, Amit Shah said the Centre had imposed restrictions on the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and the Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir, and removed terrorist sympathisers from jobs. He said funeral processions are no longer taken out for terrorists and they are buried where they are killed.
The home minister said that the Lakhanpur toll tax in Kashmir, where party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee had been arrested in 1953 and which was "a thorn in the hearts of crores of BJP workers", has been done away with.
"There was no reservation for Dalits, tribals and people from the backward classes (in Kashmir). The work of getting them reservation was done by the Narendra Modi government. There were cleaning workers who had been living in Kashmir for seven generations, since the Mughal era, but were not getting domicile certificates. Hindus from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir were not getting domicile. PM Modi ensured that all of them got domicile certificates," Amit Shah said.
Hitting out at parties "that call themselves democratic", Amit Shah said three families had ruled over Kashmir - Muftis, Abdullahs and Gandhis - but did not get panchayat polls conducted. PN Modi got them held in November-December 2018, he said.
The Home Minister said that between the last nine years of the UPA rule and the nine years of the Modi government, there has been a 68% decrease in terrorist incidents, 72% fall in deaths of civilian and security forces personnel combined, 82% reduction in civilian deaths and a 56% fall in the deaths of security personnel. Mr Shah added that no one now has the courage to indulge in stone-throwing.
The Home Minister also spoke about the development of tourism in the state since the abrogation of Article 370, as well as the reopening of theatres.
In October last year during a massive rally in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Home Minister said he will not have a dialogue with Pakistan but instead wanted to speak to the people of Kashmir “to know what they want”.
Shah, who was on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir in last October had said that he is often “advised” to have a dialogue with the neighbouring country – an idea he outrightly rejects.
“I don’t wish to talk to Pakistan and I will not. Instead, we want to speak to the youth of Kashmir, our Gujjar, Bakkarwal and Pahadi brothers. We want to speak to the people of Kashmir to know what they want and not to Pakistan,” he had said.
A THING OF PAST:
The youth here has become prudent. The game that few people played with the youth of Kashmir has stopped. They know it very well that they will get nothing from terrorism and street protests. Today's youth is focused on their studies. All the protests and stone-pelting incidents that we used to see every day no longer takes place.
Stone pelting, as the name suggests, refers to assault by throwing stones, by a section of Kashmiri youth on security forces, deployed for crowd control. The deadly attacks became a routine form of protest in the streets of Srinagar.
There were 2,653 incidents of stone-throwing in 2016. A probe by the National Investigating Agency in 2017 had revealed that Pakistan routed money into the Kashmir Valley to be paid to stone-pelters. Young men were paid for throwing stones on Army and other defence forces.
Stone-pelting didn't differentiate between security forces and residents of the Kashmir Valley. In October 2018, an army soldier was killed after sustaining head injuries during stone-pelting in Anantnag. Hundreds of army men and civilians were injured as stone-throwing went violent over the years. However, priorities are changing now- it's tools over stones.
After August 5 last year, Kashmir has starting treading towards a new path. Kashmir which was affected by terrorism, will now emerging as a model in the near future. In the past, protest calendars were distributed among the locals for organising strikes. Now, they know that there is transparency in the system and accountability. It is among the big positive changes in the region.
Almost four years after abrogation, the situation in Kashmir stands in sharp contrast to the earlier periods. With declining terrorist attacks, there is a visible improvement in security conditions in Kashmir, notwithstanding the random isolated incidents of targeted killings. In addition, there is a substantial decrease in recruitment in terror ranks.
The youth feel that they have been fooled many times by exploiting religion and prophetic sayings. Under its garb, they had been engaged in dirty dealings and shady practices, like narcotics smuggling, not only to finance terrorism and violence in the Valley but also to end the remnants of the syncretic Kashmiri culture.
This changed reality on the ground has substantially contributed to the local youths’ evolving perceptions towards Pakistan. Hence with visible improvement on ground, the ground is smooth for open talks with youth of Kashmir.
(Author is senior staffer Greater Kashmir)