The Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday assured of providing Rs 2 lakh security and life insurance cover to each panch and sarpanch in the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The delegates had visited him at his North Block office here in New Delhi, in a first major meeting with a delegation from the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) after the bold and unassuming decision to abrogate article 370 and 35A and bifurcating the state of J&K into two union territories. With this decision, the 73rd and 74th amendment of constitution would be applicable in Jammu & Kashmir and it would empower the Panchayati raj institutions. This is essentially, the decentralisation of powers, which the Modi government at centre has been talking about.
This time under Modi government, the centre has bypassed dynasties in the Kashmir valley and reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir at the grassroot level. Earlier there used to be cloud of obscurity over the outcome of major welfare decisions undertaken by the centre for J&K. But now, with Jammu & Kashmir under the direct administration of centre, the Kashmiris are ushering into a new era where they will not remain isolated from these benefit-schemes. Not only that, the sense of alienation among the people of Kashmir shall also be eliminated by this move, one that has been a first in decades.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Additional Secretary, J&K, Gyanesh Kumar and senior officers of Kashmir division were also present in the meeting. J&K has 4,130 sarpanches and 29,719 panches or panchayat members. The voter turnout was 74% in the 2018 panchayat elections, with the Kashmir Valley recording 41% turnout. The two lakh rupees insurance scheme would be a major boost to the locals and it will further strengthen their faith in the strong government of Prime Minister Modi led NDA.
Amit Shah also assured the sarpanches that recruitment of locals for government jobs would start soon and that merit-based recruitment for at least five students would be ensured from each village and that the internet and other communication services ban would be lifted in the next 15-20 days. “Your fight is against terrorism, as is ours. Hence, we should ensure an atmosphere of peace in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest,” Shah told the elated village heads, who were visibly happy with the announcement. Amit Shah at the centre has been working closely with the police and army to bring normalcy to the state despite the futile attempts of foreign media and left-liberals who have been trying to paint images of a violence-hit Kashmir.
For decades, Kashmir has had to deal with double-dealers like Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq and Omar Abdullah, who bargained on behalf of J&K with the centre, made thrift profits for themselves and left Kashmiris stranded in the middle. For decades these dynasties have ensured the prevalence of an environment in J&K that is conducive for building personal riches, acting as the only bridges between the Kashmir valley and New Delhi. However, the August 5th decision has left these political families in tatters and their influence over the region has been reduced next to nil. This move aims to build trust and eliminate the sense of alienation amongst the people of Kashmir for good. The voices In Kashmir that were until now not heard or subverted by the cacophony of separatists and miscreants, shall find a public platform for debate, now that the centre aims to connect with and directly empower the local, grassroot level leaders in J&K.