Friday 1 July 2022
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Rajnath Singh hints at possibility of election in Jammu-Kashmir by year-end, says foreign conspiracy behind targeted killings

Rajnath Singh, who reached Jammu on the second leg of his two-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir, said no country could progress if its population was divided into communities

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today there is a “foreign conspiracy” behind the recent communal tension and targeted killings by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that the union government would not allow another forced migration of any community — he cautiously avoided the mention of “Pandit” or “Hindu” as all ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi do — from any part of the union territory. Reiterating the position of India since the invasion by Pakistanis months after Independence, the defence minister said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) along with Gilgit-Baltistan were illegally under the occupation of Pakistan which surprisingly is making a claim on the land despite knowing the fact that it was part of the empire of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of Dogra rule.

Without naming Pakistan, the defence minister said the neighbouring country is not happy with India marching ahead despite various challenges. “We have to thwart this conspiracy and the people of Jammu and Kashmir need to build their future with their own hands,” Rajnath Singh said.

Article by Surajit Dasgupta: How Targeted Killings In Kashmir Are Sign Of Terrorists’ Desperation Rather Than Defeat Of Indian State

“Our government has taken the pledge of resolving the Jammu and Kashmir problem when it first came to power in 2014 when I was the home minister. The work is going on at a fast speed under the new home minister (Amit Shah),” he added.

Importantly, the defence minister announced during the speech that elections to the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir — which continue to exist even after the region lost its statehood, as some other union territories do too — could be held by the end of the current year. “By this year-end, there is a possibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir,” Rajnath Singh said.

The indication of a timeline comes two days after the Election Commission initiated the revision of electoral rolls in the union territory and prepare the draft rolls by 31 August. According to the officials, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey carried out a review and directed the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer to map the redrawn assembly constituencies.

During the revision exercise, citizens would be given opportunities to enrol, delete and change their particulars in the electoral rolls.

Addressing a function to celebrate the 200th year of the coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the minister said, “There are some forces in Jammu and Kashmir who have always tried to harm the social fabric and encouraged radicalisation. Recently, the attempts to fan communal hatred increased…the communal tension in Bhaderwah town (Doda district) is against our culture.”

Without naming the religions of killers and victims expectedly, Rajnath Singh, who reached Jammu on the second leg of his two-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir, said no country could progress if its population was divided into communities.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, our neighbouring country is playing an important role in sowing the seeds of hatred. From 1947-48 tribal raids, till the recent targeted killings (by terrorists in Kashmir), there is a foreign conspiracy behind this,” he said.

Stating that the twin union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have a major role in “new India”, he said the BJP-led government took a number of steps for the of the displaced people, whether they are West Pakistani refugees, Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) residents or Chamb migrants.

“There was no honest move to resettle 5,674 families of West Pakistan but our government provided them Rs 5.5 lakh per family for their one-time settlement and similarly,” Rajnath Singh claimed.

“The package was extended to PoJK displaced persons and Chamb refugees who were also provided Rs 5.5 lakh per family. A package of Rs 2,000 crore was given to Kashmiri migrant pandits to create transit accommodations and jobs for them besides increasing their monthly relief,” he said.

Rajnath Singh said Jammu and Kashmir had witnessed the pain of displaced people and “we will not allow another displacement of any community, whether Hindus or Muslims or Christians, from any part of the union territory. I assure you that we will not allow forced migration of anyone”.

Referring to PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said: “Pakistan has no locus standi on these areas. Had it been so, its constitution never mentioned it while, as our constitution says, that PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan are part of India and both the houses of our parliament have passed a unanimous resolution in this regard.”

Paying rich tributes to Maharaja Gulab Singh and other Dogra rulers who extended the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir, he said they have a dream after making Jammu and Kashmir part of India and therefore “every section of the society had to come forward and take a pledge to fulfil their dream which will be a great tribute to them.”

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