Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir will come up after assembly polls and that a call on the timing of elections will be taken by the Election Commission.
In an exclusive interview with news agency, Shah also said there has been improvement in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism-related figures were at their lowest.
Shah said Article 370 pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir, which was abrogated by the BJP-led government in 2019, had harmed the country.
He said the way development is taking place in Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism is gradually ending.
“See all the figures, there is a lot of change in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Answering queries, Shah said the government has been effective in tacking Left Wing Extremism and has kept a close watch on the activities of Khalistan sympathisers.
The minister said he cannot comment on the timing of the polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I had clearly stated that statehood will be restored in Jammu and Kashmir after elections. Process of preparation of voters’ list is nearing completion in the UT. Now, the Election Commission has to take a call on elections,” he said.
Asked about his earlier statement mentioning the emergence of new leadership in Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said that new leadership will emerge from local bodies where polls had been held earlier.
“The panchs and sarpanchs who have been elected, new leadership will emerge from them…Since the time terrorism started in Jammu & Kashmir, the terrorism-related figures are at its lowest today. Crores of tourists and yatris are visiting Jammu and Kashmir now. This is a huge change,” he said.
Shah said removing Article 370 has been on the agenda of BJP and Jan Sangh. He also referred India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in the context of Article 370.
“Since 1950, it was on our agenda to remove Art 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Today, the way Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing development and decrease in terrorism shows that changes that are coming,” he said.
Shah said those slamming the BJP should answer in whose tenure terrorism grew in Jammu and Kashmir.
“As far as elections are concerned, do they not remember the local body polls, these were held under our rule, these did not take place for 70 years. Three families were holding sway in Jammu and Kashmir and they are making noise…Farooq Abdullah had gone to England. In whose tenure, terrorism grew, who allowed it to grow, there should be an answer,” he said. .
He said casualties of security forces in LWE (Left Wing Extremism)-related incidents has come down.
“In the last 9 years, Left Wing extremism almost eliminated from Bihar and Jharkhand and security vacuum filled in Chhattisgarh. For the first time in 20 years, the total casualties of locals and security personnel has gone below 100. This is a big achievement,” he said.
Answering a question about the activities of separatists and Khalistan supporters outside the country and their efforts to create trouble, he said there is good coordination between security agencies.
“We have maintained a close watch on this, also discussed this issue with Punjab govt. There is good coordination between different agencies. I am confident that we will not let it flourish,” he said.
Shah said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been revoked from over 60 per cent of the areas in the northeast.