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Mission Kashmir: Amit Shah wraps up Srinagar visit, returns to Delhi

May 18, 2024
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Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah wrapped up his brief visit to Kashmir Valley during which he interacted with several delegations, including those from the BJP and local Sikhs, officials said.

Shah, who arrived here on Thursday evening, left for New Delhi on Friday morning, they said.

Though his visit amid Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir led to speculation of his meetings with some Kashmir-based mainstream political leaders, there was no official word on the minister’s engagements before he left the Valley.

While Baramulla goes to the polls on May 20, voting for the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency is scheduled for May 25 after it was deferred from its earlier schedule of May 7 due to bad weather.

Sunil Sharma, general secretary of the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit, said on Thursday that the home minister’s visit to Kashmir is not political.

 “I think the home minister is coming here to review the measures from the security point of view to increase the turnout and create an atmosphere of peace. There is no political activity, but the BJP workers will meet him and discuss the party’s organizational matters,” Sharma said.

Immediately after he arrived in the city here on Thursday, Shah interacted with several delegations, including BJP leaders of Jammu and Kashmir. A Pahari delegation and a delegation of local Sikhs also met Amit Shah.

Local BJP leaders had said Shah would hold a review meeting on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as the Lok Sabha elections will be followed by the annual Amarnath Yatra, which is scheduled to start on June 29 and conclude on August 19. However, there was no official word on it.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir might witness assembly elections after the yatra as the Supreme Court has given a deadline of September 30 to the Centre for holding these polls.

During his visit, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met several delegations including Gujjar-Bakarwals, Paharis, and Sikh communities.

The participants said that the delegations called on Amit Shah and discussed several issues in a cordial atmosphere.

A member of the Gujjar-Bakerwal community from South Kashmir, Ahmad Bin Bumla said the Union Home Minister sought feedback from them about the post-Article 370 situation.

“We also discussed several issues and put forth our demands,” he said, adding that the issue of development, Scheduled Tribe status given to Paharis, and other issues were also discussed during the meeting.

Shahbaz Peer, another member of the delegation said three delegations comprising 150 members from the community have met the Union Home Minister, adding that they put forth demands like special recruitment for the ST community and, the spread of the private sector to ensure more jobs for the youth from the community. “We were assured that all the issues and demands raised by us will be looked into,” Peer said.

A member from the Sikh community, Engineer Nirmal Singh said a delegation comprising nearly 60 members met the Union Home Minister this evening and raised several demands.

“We demanded a special package for employment like the way minorities have been given here. Besides, we also demanded the establishment of a minority commission and also ST status for the community,” Singh said, adding that they have been told that the demands will be looked into, but the Home Minister has sought some time according to him for redressing their grievances and fulfilling their demands.

In a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah, one of the members of the Gujjar-Bakerwal delegation from north Kashmir, Ghulam Mohammad Khatana said that they discussed only the Schedule Tribe (ST) issue.

“People belonging to ST were unhappy earlier for cutting off their reservation and giving it to Paharis. However, the delegations of Gujjar-Bakarwals were assured that the 10 percent reservation for them hasn’t been fiddled with,” he said.

Khatana said that HM assured that Paharis were given different reservation quotas and the reservation for Gujjar-Bakerwal was still there.

“Besides, the Gujjar-Bakerwal delegation was told that they can elect their Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.

In the meeting with HM, the Gujjar-Bakerwal delegation further informed HM that the community was facing electricity and other basic issues.

Meanwhile, one of the members of the Pahari delegation from north Kashmir, Mohd Younis Sheikh said that the community thanked HIM for the reservation to the community. “In the meeting, we thanked Home Minister Amit Shah for his support to the Pahari community. This was the main agenda of our delegation,” he said.

Pahari community members from South Kashmir also stated that they thanked the Union Home Minister for resolving their long-pending issue. “The issue that continued to linger for the last seven decades has been resolved for which we thanked him and also told him that the community is indebted to the government for resolving this grave issue,” said Syed Akhter Hussain, a member from South Kashmir’s Pahari community delegation..

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