On Sunday, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has said after the scrapping of “special status” to Jammu and Kashmir, people should now pray for incorporation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with India in their lifetime. 

Mr. Singh further downplayed the detention of mainstream political leaders and communication blockade in the Kashmir Valley, followed by the elimination of “special status” granted and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir in two seperate Union Territories. 

While addressing a meet on the existing socio-political milieu in the state, Mr. Singh said that “we are lucky that it (revoking of the special status) happened in our lifetime. It is because of the sacrifices of our three generations.”

He continued, “After this historic step, let us move forward with a positive thinking of freeing PoK from the illegal occupation of Pakistan and making it an integral part of the country in accordance with the unanimously passed resolution in Parliament (in 1994).”

“Let us pray that we see the integration of PoK with the country and people freely visit Muzaffarabad (capital of PoK),” added the Union Minister. 

Without naming the opposition for the criticism on the arrest of former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, said Mr. Singh that it was “unnecessarily being made a big issue.”

“Under some compulsion or reason, the government has taken some steps to maintain peace. You (Congress) had arrested National Conference founder Sheikh Abdullah. Such a thing had not happened in Kashmir,” Mr. Singh said, adding that the local leaders were not being kept in solitary confinement.

Defending the move with regard to Article 370, he said some people were frustrated because they had created a narrative in the country that no power could abolish the special status being enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir.

“We did it…Article 370 was a miscarriage of history and perhaps the gravest blunder in post-independence India, “he said, adding that it led to the lack of development and discrimination within regions but also a “psychological isolation that created mental barriers”.

“Former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee talked about insaniyat (humanity), jamhuriyat (democracy), kashmiriyat to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir. By this move, we have restored jamhuriyat (democracy) and have done the necessary course correction to pave a way for inasaniyat and kashmiriyat,” Mr Singh said.

Mr Singh added that in the 1996 assembly elections after several years of the governor’s and president’s rule in the state, the chief minister (Farooq Abdullah) was brought from abroad.

Without naming the National Conference or the PDP but apparently referring to these parties, he said they were spreading fear out of frustration as they used to propagate a notion that their presence was imperative for India in Kashmir.

“Now is the time to expose them on their own turf,” he said.

“We will show the mirror to the Congress, which deceived the nation on Article 370. The National Conference betrayed its own people and was not faithful to the Articles 370 and 35-A. Otherwise, they would not have brought so many amendments over the years in collaboration with the Congress at the Centre,” he added.

The minister also allayed the apprehensions that people from outside would come and grab government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Some fringe elements have an agenda. We should not pay heed to their argument. Whatever had happened, nobody had ever imagined,” he said.

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