Srinagar: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived on Saturday in Srinagar as part of his four-day visit to Jammu & Kashmir. He met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and, according to the official handout, discussed the Agenda of Alliance (AoA), the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP), and the security situation in Kashmir.
During his meeting with various delegations in Srinagar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was categorically told that the political solution of Kashmir issue should be the first priority of Government of India (GOI) to bring peace in the Kashmir region.
During his day-long meetings, Rajnath met 24 delegations including social, trade, and travel and business bodies from across Kashmir Valley.
Before he arrived in Srinagar, Singh had tweeted his willingness to meet “anyone” in Kashmir. “I am going there with an open mind and I am willing to meet anyone who will help us in finding solutions to problems facing J&K,” Singh tweeted before taking off from New Delhi.
Singh was received at Srinagar airport by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and senior officials of the state government.
One of the delegations that Singh met with was of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK). Its general secretary, Farooq Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader that the delegation told the home minister that trade and tourism in Kashmir will never flourish if the Kashmir issue was not taken up on urgent basis.
Besides, he also told the home minister that the anti-Kashmir campaign on social media and TV should end.
“We told him that the virulent propaganda is further alienating Kashmir,” Farooq said. “We said tourism is a peaceful activity and positive coverage will increase people-to-people contact.”
Farooq said the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that tourism and terrorism cannot go together sent a wrong message to the people of India.
President of the Hotel Owners and Restaurant Association, Javed Burza, said that they told the home minister that GOI should talk to every political stakeholder in Kashmir.
“I told him unless you won’t talk about political solution, things will not be all right,” Burza said. “The home minister replied that they have not set preconditions for talks for anybody. I told him that GOI should initiate talks without preconditions, instead of repeating that talks should be held within the framework of Indian Constitution etc. I told him that open-ended talks with all the political stakeholders should be initiated to find a solution to the Kashmir problem. I told him the business community was suffering.”
Burza said they also told the home minister to use his office to stop the venomous propaganda against Kashmiris by the New Delhi-based media.
“I told him the propaganda should be stopped. This hate campaign should end,” Burza said.
Singh also met with delegations of the Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), Sikh delegation, Fruit Growers & Dealers Association, JK Shia Association, All Gujjjar & Bakerwal Conference, Pahari Association, and Self-Employed Women Association.
One youth delegation was led by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth head, Waheed Ur Rehman Parra.
According to the state government’s handout, “The Chief Minister impressed upon the need to reach out to all sections of the society in the state which has been duly recognized in the AoA.”
“She said the needs and problems of the people of the state have been recognized in the AoA and its implementation needs to be fast paced,” it added.
The handout further stated that the Chief Minister requested for regular and timely release of funds for various projects under the PMDP.
“Reviewed the progress of implementation of the Prime Minister Development Package. The Centre is monitoring the progress on a regular basis,” Singh tweeted after the meeting. “I have asked the authorities to expedite the implementation of the PMDP in a time bound manner. It will create jobs for the people of J&K,” he added.
The PMDP, a Rs 80,068-crore package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 7, 2015, covers 63 projects pertaining to 15 ministries of the Government of India. The Centre has already sanctioned Rs 63,000 crore for the various projects, which amounts to 78 percent of the total cost of the PMDP package, and an amount of nearly Rs 22,000 crore has recently been released, according to a Press Information Bureau press release.
Rajnath will also travel to Anantnag, Jammu and Rajouri and will meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits, business leaders and others.
Officials said the home minister is scheduled to visit Khanabal in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district where he will interact with CRPF and police officials.
Singh will also visit Naushera in Rajouri district and Jammu district during the four-day visit, they added.
– With PTI inputs