The formation of the two new Union Territories of J&K and Leh and the Government’s stand vis a vis Article 370 has been most momentous achievement since Independence. This has been possible only because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has the devotion, grit, determination and passionate leadership to take this historical step to rejuvenate and resurge Indian unity, development and pride of a great India and he has done it with great aplomb. His noble intentions, unflinching resolve, stupendous projects and schemes have brought hope, life and succour to all citizens. And he has launched an indomitable crusade against terrorism. In his answers to the debate in Parliament Union Home Minister Amit Shah had stated that 41500 people were killed in J & K since 1989. Terrorism had devastated the region leading to untold misery. Invisible enemies fighting unholy proxy wars, had threatened our democracy, more so having been fed on a staple diet of Islamic fundamentalism.
With the government priority on development for the people, the two newly created Union Territories and the people will now witness a spate of unhindered development as never before. This is evident by the recent initiatives of the government accelerating development, building infrastructure, reinforcing governance, generating employment, broadening social inclusion and promoting growth.
Long years of unrest have adversely affected the State’s democratic institutions, particularly those at the grass roots level. The absence of elected local bodies not only deprived the people of the power to take their own decisions regarding development and other issues impacting their day to day lives, but also adversely impacted the flow of resources from the Central and the State Government to rural and urban local self-governing institutions. Immediately after the formation of the UT & J&K, Panchayati Raj institutions were established and made functional and Rs. 366 crore was released directly to 4483 Panchayats, which money was always diverted earlier to vested pockets. Work on the 2206 languishing projects was started and will now be completed shortly.
Similarly, after the new UT of J& K came into being, there was a creation of 45000 employment opportunities, vigorous road construction works, flood management and water supply projects, initiation and acceleration of several power generation and transmission projects, enabling achievement of 100 percent household electrification, process of setting up of over 330 schools and colleges and a university, improved medical infrastructure, beginning of a light rail and public transport system, welfare measures for all including housing, disposal of outcome based grievances, implementation of women and child welfare schemes, scholarships for the deserving, support to farmers, orchardists and unorganized workers, expansion of tourism facilities, sports infrastructure and border area development. These and many more such initiatives. will now germinate and blossom, after the creation of the Union Territories, in greater proportions and restore full confidence of the people.
The criticism against the control of telephone and internet services is a hollow one. Communication is the greatest weapon of terrorists and publicity their aphrodisiac. Protecting human lives from terrorist attacks was much more important than such services. All patriots realise that national security cannot be compromised with and human lives come first and the public is willing to undergo minor inconveniences for the greater good.
The formation of the Union Territory of J&K will not only evoke patriotism but restore confidence of the people in the Constitution of India and our robust democratic system of a united sovereign India with Justice, Equality and Fraternity assuring the dignity of every Indian. The special status of Article 370 and 35 A had compartmentalised the State from the other parts of India leaving it backward. Money and resources were being siphoned/diverted off into wrong hands and did not reach the common man. STs will now get political representation and the rights of SCs and Tribal will be protected. And importantly, corruption will be controlled. Finally, terrorism and peoples’ miseries will certainly come to an end, despite Pakistan’s frustrated efforts to activate its “deep state” again to heat up the environment, even in this state of the COVID pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has attacked the world like a storm, has also affected the government’s development efforts in J&K, which would, otherwise, have seen a greater upsurge in the in-flow of investments, increase in industries (including the handicrafts industry), services, tourism and the concomitant employment as also educational and medical facilities.
With such unstinted noble efforts, why are sceptics suspicious of this monumental government action? They must realize that the sea of suspicion has no shore and a ship which embarks upon it is without mast or rudder.
Finally it is one nation and one constitution which will instil the feeling of unity amongst all Indians. Once COVID-19 settles down, there will be an opening of doors of investment and this will boost the economy of the two Union Territories. The Right to Information and Right to Education shall be applicable so also the Directive Principles of State policy and the Fundamental Duties. The government action will usher in a new era of peace, tranquillity and development – which will finally deliver the long awaited smile on the face of the people.
Only – we have to be a little patient.
Our neighbour should realise that this is an internal issue of India and that nobody – I repeat nobody – can challenge the might of a determined government. And that too a government which wants India to be one and united with the greatest of welfare for the benefit of all its citizens.
(He is a retired IPS officer and former DG ITBP and Commissioner of Police, Kolkata. His views are personal.)