Shah assures Rs 2 lakh insurance for J&K panchayat members
In a major decision in the first meeting with a delegation from Jammu and Kashmir after removal of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday assured them of providing security as well as a Rs 2 lakh life insurance cover to each panch and sarpanch in the newly-created Union Territory.
The Home Minister also assured the delegation of restoring communications in the region according to the situation and full statehood when normalcy returns.
Shah met the delegation of panches and sarpanches around 1 p.m. at his North Block office, almost a month after the Centre scrapped the Constitution's Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and then bifurcated the erstwhile state into two states -- Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under restrictions since then with clampdown on mobile and internet communications.
After the meeting with the Home Minister, Mir Junaid, a panchayat member, said the Home Minister assured them of providing full statehood after normalcy returns. "He has assured of providing Rs 2 lakh insurance to each panch and sarpanch in Jammu and Kashmir."
Another panch said: "As regional parties had boycotted panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, those who fought the elections risked their lives. We came here with that assurance that we will fight elections, we should be given some security."
"Home Minister assured us that all the Jammu and Kashmir sarpanches would be provided security cover. Besides, Rs 2 lakh life insurance cover will be provided to each panch and sarpanch."
Union Minister Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Additional Secretary, J&K, Gyanesh Kumar and senior officers of Kashmir division were also present in the meeting.
After the meeting, Jitendra Singh, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, said that the Home Minister asked the delegation not to be misled by the misinformation being spread in Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said Shah told the delegation that a time would soon come when there would be no need of providing security to anyone. "There would be peace everywhere in Jammu and Kashmir."
"The Home Minister assured them (delegation) that this is only a passing phase. Statehood will return back when normalcy is restored there. The sarpanches assured the Home Minister that they would whole-heartedly participate in the BDC (Block Development Council) elections which are to happen in the next two months. All funds will be available to them."
Citing the Home Minister's declaration on the floor of Parliament about return of statehood in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said it was also reassured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that this arrangement has been arrived at with certain consideration.
The PM has said once the condition of the ground is as it is expected to be, statehood would return back, he said.
Asked if facilities will be restored within 15-20 days in Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister said: "The Home Minister said that normalcy is returning. The restrictions will be lifted one by one."
Accepting that some amount of inconvenience caused due to restrictions on mobile, Singh said: "The fact cannot be denied. But there has been no untoward incident over the last four weeks ever since the abrogation of Article 370 happened.
"The restrictions on mobiles to a large extend have been lifted up in the entire Jammu region, Doda belt and also a number of districts in Kashmir Valley. So gradually this is happening... The restrictions will also be done away within few weeks."
The Minister also mentioned that there would be jobs available to four to five youths in each villages.
"The government would travel down to the villages and it will be through the medium of sarpanches. The priorities of the people on job appointments will be decided on merit."
Explaining the Centre's purpose, Singh said the kind of mindset and conditioning which has happened as a result of the decades of dynastic rule can be done away.
The delegation, Singh said, was elated and thrilled when they were told that the 73rd and 74th Amendment of the Constitution, relating to pachayats and urban local bodies, has become immediately applicable for Jammu and Kashmir which is now going to be the Union Territory. IANS