Jammu: Union home minister Amit Shah will start Jammu and Kashmir visit later this month, his first trip to the Union territory that was carved out of the erstwhile state after its special status under the Constitution was effectively revoked. Shah’s visit is part of the Centre’s continuing mega outreach campaign aimed at the Jammu and Kashmir that were formed on August 5, 2019, people familiar with the development said.
As per the report in The Hindustan Times, Shah, who is tentatively expected to be in the centrally-administered Union territory between October 23 and 25, is also expected to review implementation of development schemes, interact with stakeholders and chair a top-level security review, a person cited above said. During the tour, the Union home minister is expected to interact with stakeholders, review important projects and take stock of the law and order situation.
Shah was last in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2019, immediately after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power for the second term.
The move to strip the state of its special status under Article 370 came a few months later. Shah had pitched the change, along with the conversion of the state into two union territories from October 31, as steps that would fast track development and end terrorism in the state.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre effectively revoked Article 370, which bestowed special status to the erstwhile state, and Article 35A, which barred non-locals from buying or owning immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir, settling there permanently, or availing benefits of state-sponsored scholarship schemes. The constitutional provision acknowledged the special status of the (then) state of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of autonomy and its ability to formulate laws for the state’s permanent residents.
Several members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers have travelled to the newly carved union territory in last four-five weeks as part of the public outreach programme. These include farm minister Narendra Singh Tomar, tourism minister G Kishan Reddy, and junior minority affairs minister John Barla among others.
During his tour, Shah is likely to visit remote areas of Kashmir valley and the Jammu region.
Last month, he held a top-level review meeting on J&K with the Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and senior security officials including the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval. He also reviewed various development initiatives being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir, including the ₹80,000 crore package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.
The home minister has said in the past that all-round development and welfare of the people of the Union territory are on top priority list of the government.
In June this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited J&K leaders including Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti at his residence in Delhi, during which they demanded restoration of special status of J&K.