August 5, 2019, is the most historic, revolutionary and irreversible day in the making of modern India when the special status accorded to J&K under Article 370 was abrogated.
It has been a long-drawn dream of millions of Indians, including the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It was also the dream of former Jan Sangh president Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who kept propagating that ‘Ek desh mein do vidhan, do pradhan aur do nishan nahi chalenge’ (In one country, two different sets of the legislature, executive, and judiciary cannot function). He had raised a banner of revolt against it saying that Article 370 was working as a deterrent for the cultural unification of India and Kashmir and that it was harmful to the nation’s integrity. He laid down his life for the cause of complete integration of Kashmir and abolishing the permit rule for Kashmir.
The scrapping of Article 370 was like the removal of an old tumour which was necessary for the health and well being of our nation, Bharat. When the history of modern India is written, this will be hailed as one of the biggest steps by the Modi Government which is known for its strong, decisive and farsighted decisions under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Administratively, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has been re-constituted into two union territories, J& K and Ladakh and has taken to the new road to integration, development and growth.
Kashmir valley has seen a long battle with terrorism where the nefarious designs of Pakistan have been at play. After the abrogation of Article-370, there is a marked decline in terrorism giving new hope to the people of the valley to live a normal life.
According to a Home Ministry report, there is a decline of terror incidents up to 60% in Jammu and Kashmir which reported 614 terror incidents in 2018, and 244 in 2020 reflecting a steep decline. The Modi Government has a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism, secessionism and anti-national activities. The tough measures taken include cracking the terror-financing, strengthening of security apparatus, full and free hand to security forces to deal with the terror outfits, crack-down of anti-national elements, and keeping a close watch on individuals and organizations which support terrorists and secessionist activities.
The NIA has busted many terror-financing modules which worked as a check on recruiting the local youth for terror activities through financial incentives. There are hardly any incidents of stone-pelting or violent protests barring a few. The secessionist gang of Hurriyat led by Geelani could not orchestrate any unrest in the valley since all their financial and political channels are cut. There has been no curfew, protests, strikes and ‘Bandh-call incited by Pro-Pakistani Hurriyat conference.
A new approach to political participation at the ground level has been initiated at a massive scale. This was a welcome move in which people from the grassroots level were involved.
In the election of DDC in December 2020, which was conducted very peacefully, 100 women were elected for the first time which had a voting turnover of 52%. For the first time, the reservation was implemented in the political field following which 6 women, two leaders belonging to SC and ST were elected as chairpersons. The hitherto ignored community leaders like Gujjar Bakerwals were made part of the political process. The local bodies were given a genuine share of power as Panchayats were delegated 21 subjects including areas like Anganwadi, monitoring of MNREGA and right to mining. They were given financial power by putting Rs 1500 crores in their accounts. The newly-constituted Delimitation Commission aims to give a fair and equitable distribution to all the sections and regions of the valley.
In terms of development and economic resources, the state administration, following the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has signed 168 MoUs worth Rs 13,600 crores for investments and 6,000 acres of government land has been acquired for setting up industries in Jammu and Kashmir. The J&K Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation was also set up to complete various projects, which have been languishing for over a decade. Many new projects have started rolling out as several bottlenecks were removed to accelerate the existing projects. The expenditure under the Prime Minister’s Development Programme was expedited from 27 per cent to 54 per cent. The phase of development is on at a fast pace as can be seen from the completion of the Rambagh flyover in Srinagar which was pending for over five years.
The roads infrastructure which is required to reduce the distances has been put on an unprecedented speed with projects like Jammu-Akhnoor Road, Chenani-Sudhmahadev Road rolling out quickly. More than. 30 per cent of the Jammu Ring Road was also completed. Rs 2,273 projects worth Rs 5,979 crores have been sanctioned, 506 projects have been completed. Many new hydro projects in the UT have also been speeded up like – Ujh and Shahpur Kandi – which were in limbo for over five decades. The development has focused on 14 sectors for investments including tourism, hydropower, electricity, education, health. More than 130 administrative reforms have been carried out to bring about ease of doing business. In the education sector, 7 new medical colleges have been initiated of which 4 have already started functioning. The medical seats have also been increased from 500 to 955 in colleges, and 25,000 seats have been added in regular degree colleges. Similarly, health sector is prioritized with a universal health policy under which health cover for about one crore local residents has been provided.
Also, the region of Ladhak is on the road to development after it has acquired its long-cherished demand of being a Union Territory. We are witnessing history in making in Kashmir.
( The writer is BJP National General Secretary)