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GOI Trying to Regain Faith of Kashmiris, Says Rajnath Singh

Article 35A: ‘I Talked of Sentiments of Jammu, Ladakh Too; Not Valley Alone’


Jammu—The government is trying to regain the faith of people of Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday and sought support of all political parties and stakeholders to resolve the problems of the state.

Singh, on the last leg of his four-day tour of the state, said the security situation in Kashmir is better "to an extent" than the previous year but he could not say that it "has totally become peaceful".

He said the government is making efforts to improve the situation in the Valley.

"We are trying to regain the faith of people (of Kashmir)," he added while talking to reporters here.

"I want cooperation and support of all, including all political parties and all stakeholders of the society to resolve the problems of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh," the home minister said.

He did not agree with a view that the militant ranks in Kashmir have swelled and said "terrorists are being strongly dealt with by the security forces bravely." 

Singh was asked a question regarding his remark yesterday that the Centre will not do anything "against the sentiments" of the people of J&K, in the context of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution under which residents of the state have certain special privileges and rights.

"First of all, I want to clarify. Please do not distort my statement (On Article 35A). I said Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh - the entire state. I talked about the sentiment of the people of the region (J&K)." 

In his reply, he said, "First of all, I want to clarify. Please do not distort my statement. I said Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh - the entire state. I talked about the sentiment of the people of the region (J&K)."

Pressed further, he said, "as far as Article 35A is concerned, whatever I had to say, I have said that (yesterday). The matter is sub-judice and I have nothing more to say."

There has been a raging debate over the fate of this Constitutional provision ever since it was challenged in the Supreme Court by a woman who has alleged that it was discriminatory.

Several Kashmiri mainstream parties as well as separatists have opposed abrogation of this Article, warning that it would have serious consequences.

Asked whether the central government will abide by the decision of Supreme Court on Article 35A, Singh evaded a direct reply, saying, "whatever I had to say was stated by me yesterday. I dont think there is a need to elaborate."

Queried whether the government will file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court on the challenge posed to it, Singh said, "the matter is in the SC. I don’t know what will happen in the future. At this point of time, I cannot say beyond this."

Singh batted strongly for equal development in all the three regions of the state -- Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.

"We want that there should be no discrimination with any part of the state. All the three regions should have proper and comprehensive development. This is the ideology of our government," he said.

"Keeping in view this aspect, Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had announced a development package for J&K under which 63 projects are being implemented in the three regions of the state," he added.

Under the package, 6000 transit accommodations are coming up for which Rs 920 crore have been sanctioned, he said.

"Rs 2000 crore have been sanctioned for the compensation to the displaced people of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir," the home minister said.

"To prevent this scheme from falling prey to corruption, we have linked it with Aadhaar for direct benefit transfer to the accounts of the displaced families," he added.

Singh said the Centre has a tough stand towards illegal migrants but a "sympathetic view" towards those displaced within the country and the minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who have become refugees in this country.

To a question about sealing of borders, he said wherever fencing is not possible and physical barriers like riverine terrains cant be used, technology like sensor-based cameras will be used.

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