Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday (March 14) assured that the remaining political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, who were detained seven months ago, would be released “very soon”, the newly formed Apni Party’s president Altaf Bukhari said in New Delhi.
A 24-member delegation of the Apni Party held detailed discussions with Shah in the presence of top officials of the Home Ministry and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
A discussion that spanned for nearly two hours, comes a few days after National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13 after being kept in detention for 221 days.
Bukhari told reporters that the release of remaining detained political leaders was a topic of discussion. “Yes, we did discuss about the detention of remaining political leaders and others, and the home minister said it is a process and we will be releasing them very soon,” Bukhari said.
Several political leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were put on house arrest by the government after the abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
According to a home ministry statement, Shah allayed the apprehensions of the delegation on restrictions and said all decisions on relaxations are based on ground realities and not due to any pressure.
“Even political prisoners will be freed in times to come as the main objective of the government is that not a single person should die, be it a common Kashmiri or security personnel,” the home minister said.
Shah also assured the delegation of restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood at an “early opportunity” and no change in the demography of the region.
Expressing confidence that “visible changes will be seen on the ground in the next few months, the home minister also assured the delegation that the NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take all steps for the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The political delegation was the first one to meet central leaders after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
Engaging with the delegation on about 40-odd issues raised by them, the home minister emphasised that there is no intention of the government for demographic change in the region and “all such talks have no basis at all”.
Bukhari said that there was a clear assurance on this issue from the prime minister and the home minister.
In a similar assurance as given by the prime minister to the delegation, Shah said the government will work with all sections of the society to realise the hopes of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity.
Shah referred to the prime ministers address to the nation after the abrogation of Article 370 and said that and even he in his speech in Lok Sabha on August 6, 2019 expressed the same.
The home minister said this is also good for India’s interest, as the region is a border area, according to the official statement.
Shah also assured the delegation that Jammu and Kashmir will have a better domicile policy than other states in the country and that a reasonable economic development policy will be drafted soon after widespread consultation, adding that his government is open to suggestions and feedback from all political parties and individuals for overall development of the valley.
He emphasised that there is no discrimination in implementation of central laws in Jammu and Kashmir, interests of all sections will be taken care of and that a land bank had been created in the union territory and the government would soon come out with an industrial policy to ensure rapid economic development.
Shah hopes that in the next four years, Jammu and Kashmir will have three times more investments than ₹13,000 crore which it has received in last 70 years. There is a huge potential and investors are also willing to come forward. This will also solve the problem of unemployment in the region, he added.
On the issue of reservation, the home minister said that a commission will be set up soon and reiterated that no injustice will be done to Gujjars, nomads and other communities.
Regarding J&K Bank, he assured the delegation of personal intervention in the matter.
The Apni Party chief also raised various other issues, including age relaxation for youths from the union territory appearing in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams, relief in horticulture and agriculture.
(With inputs from agencies)