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Your culture, freedom won’t be curtailed: G Kishan Reddy to Kashmiris

NEW DELHI: The minister in charge of Kashmir affairs at the home ministry, G Kishan Reddy, said the government had to adopt a “special strategy” and maintain “secrecy” before bringing legislation on Jammu & Kashmir in Parliament due to the circumstances in the Valley.

Speaking for the first time after the deactivation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories, the minister of state defended the house arrest of some political leaders in the Valley. “This is not the first time that political leaders have been detained in the Valley. The Congress party kept Sheikh Abdullah behind bars, outside the state, for more than 10 years,” Reddy told ET.

The former chief of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, Abdullah, was dismissed in 1953 as the prime minister of J&K by the then constitutional head of the state, Karan Singh, son of the erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh. He spent the next 11 years in detention, away from his home state.

Reddy also cited a number of instances in the past when the Congress-led governments at the Centre had imposed curfew in the Valley and jailed local leaders. “The Congress during its tenure arrested JKLF chief Yasin Malik a number of times,” he added.

The current lockdown, he said, was only to save people’s lives because Pakistan would try to foment trouble. “If you look at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements, it is clear that they want to create trouble in the Valley. They (Pak) have been trying to promote separatism and terrorism in the valley. It is an internal matter of India, not international,” the minister said. “(Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s extended the hand of friendship to Pakistan and what did they do? They gave us Kargil. We have to take precautionary measures to contain the actions of Pakistan.”

On not seeking the will of the people of J&K before announcing the bifurcation of the state, Reddy said: “We have complete faith in the people of Kashmir. I want to ask what have they gained from Article 370? We had to adopt a special strategy in this case as it required complete secrecy. We are committed to peace and development in Kashmir. I want to assure the people of Kashmir that their culture, freedom and peace will not be curtailed. The situation is improving every day.

As soon normalcy returns, we will remove the communication restrictions as well.”

An official said a detailed security review was held after Independence Day celebration on Thursday which examined relaxing restrictions for Friday prayers. However, the Internet shutdown is likely to continue for now.

The state administration has been asked to launch a campaign in J&K and Ladakh, enumerating benefits of deactivation of Article 370. According to officials, officers from the J&K administration have been drafted in to contact “at least 20 families in the valley to explain how it would change things for better.”

Source: Economic Times