New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah has assured that the remaining political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir would be released ‘very soon’, the newly formed Apni Party’s president Altaf Bukhari said here on Saturday, days after former chief minister Farooq Abdullah was released.
A 24-member delegation of the Apni Party led by Bukhari held detailed discussions with Shah in the presence of top officials of the Home Ministry. The delegation had met prime minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
Emerging after the meeting that lasted nearly two hours, Bukhari told reporters that the release of remaining political leaders was among the topics discussed with the home minister.
“Yes, we did discuss 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.
Many political leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were detained by the government after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.
National Conference president and former CM Farooq Abdullah were released on March 13 after being kept in detention for 221 days.
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 is believed to have said.
Shah is also said to have 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 J-K’s special status on August 5.
Engaging with the delegation on about 40-odd issues raised by them, the home minister emphasized 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 realize the hopes of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity.
Shah referred to the prime minister’s 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.
The home minister 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.
Shah said his government is open to suggestions and feedback from all political parties and individuals for the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir.
He emphasized that there is no discrimination in the implementation of central laws in Jammu and Kashmir and the interests of all sections will be taken care of.
He said 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.
He expressed hope that in the next four years, Jammu and Kashmir will have three times more investments than Rs 13,000 crore that it has received in the 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.
On the issues concerning JK Bank, he assured the delegation of personal intervention in the matter.
The JK 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.