Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant GovernorManoj Sinha has said that stone-pelting on Fridays has become history in what he described as “changing Kashmir” where the grievances of the common people “are being heard and heard sensibly”.
Sinha, in an interview to The Print, spoke about how investors were queuing up with “over 20,000 crore proposals and how unemployment rate had “halved in one year.”
His interview comes days before the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union Territories in August 2019.
He said the changes that have come about in two years are “positive”.
“Some people will not see this change because it doesn’t suit them. But it suits the masses. People were angry two years ago. Some people (read politicians) may still be angry but the common people aren’t. Yeh ek nayi tarah ka Jammu aur Kashmir hai (this is a new Jammu & Kashmir),” LG Sinha said.
He said the grievances of people were “being heard and heard sensibly”, and the government under him had done “meaningful works in providing a corruption-free administration”.
“Those days are gone when things would happen without administrative sanction or tendering. Now if work is sanctioned, it will have administrative sanction, financial approval, tendering, geo-tagging, physical verification and only then will the money be given,” Sinha said.
Sinha rejected reports about Kashmiri youth turning to militancy after Article 370 abrogation.
“This assessment is wrong. There was a time when one could see only stone-pelters every Friday.
“It’s history now. (Local) recruitment (by militant groups) has come down. The sense of fear that the people used to have is over. The biggest number of tourists from across the country are coming to Kashmir only. You won’t get rooms in hotels here. It’s an indication of the improved situation. Security forces have an upper hand today (70 militants were killed in the past fortnight),” Sinha said.
Sinha said that the Government of India had given a package of 6,000 jobs and 6,000 houses for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
“I found out in a review that they were not given jobs on some pretext or the other. I want to tell you today that almost 4,000 of them have got jobs and the rest, except 80-84, will get it in the next three-four months.”
As for housing, 1,800 houses are under construction and will be completed in the next six to eight months. For the remaining houses, the land has been identified and tender/DPR process is on. “In the next two years, all houses will be built. Besides, we have also made a rehabilitation policy but I will discuss it once it’s on the ground,” said the LG.
When he came to J&K, the LG said, unemployment rate was almost 20 per cent (as per CMIE estimates).
“It went down to 9.3 per cent, although in June it went up again to 10.3 per cent,” he said, giving details of a host of schemes to benefit young, aspiring entrepreneurs.
About demand by political parties for statehood or their apprehensions about the delimitation commission, the LG said it was not for him to decide the chronology.
It’s for the Parliament of India to decide the timing of statehood, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed himself to in his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, and for the Election Commission to decide on elections after the delimitation commission’s report,” he said.
The LG also did not read much into concerns and apprehensions about outsiders taking over Kashmiri land now that permanent residents don’t have special rights and privileges that existed under Article 35 A. On Wednesday, the J&K administration changed rules to enable non-native spouses of Jammu and Kashmir women to get domicile certificate.
“I don’t think common people are worried about (domicile laws) it. Certain people have such concerns; they want to vitiate the situation by instigating the people. I want to tell the people with full responsibility: Has anybody outside Jammu and Kashmir been able to take over an inch of land here? There won’t be a single proof. These are baseless things,” he said.
“As I have said, if someone wants to set up an industry, we will give land. If someone wants to open an educational institute, we will give land. If someone wants to open a good hospital, she will get land,” Sinha added.
J&K’s new industrial policy — entailing a 300 per cent subsidy on GST once production starts — has drawn “very encouraging response” from investors.
“As per our initial estimates, we were expecting investments worth Rs 20-25,000 crore and generation of 5 lakh jobs. The way investors are showing enthusiasm, it can go up upto Rs 50,000 crore. We have the land bank and we are trying to increase it.”
The UT administration currently has investment proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore and some of these projects have already been allotted land.
“Yeh badalta Kashmir hai (This is changing Kashmir),” Sinha said.