It has been nearly a year since the red lettered day when the formation of the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, by Prime Minister Modi’s Government, took place – the most momentous achievement since independence, to rejuvenate and resurge Indian unity and development in J & K. Prior to that, terrorism had devastated the region leading to untold misery. Union Home Minister Amit Shah made a statement in Parliament in August 2019 that 41500 people were killed in J & K since 1989. Invisible enemies fighting unholy proxy wars, had attempted to threaten Indian democracy.
Post 370, PM Modi rightly expects Kashmir to lead from the front as it now stands integrated with India in the true sense of the term. The people of J & K have the same rights, benefits and prospects as those in the rest of the country. A historical wrong, perpetrated by successive state governments, has been rectified by the Modi Government and genuine Indian citizens living in the Valley for decades will be granted domicile. Domicile certificate is now the basic eligibility condition for recruitment. Recently thousands of refugees from Pakistan, members belonging to the Valmiki Samaj and Gurkha Jawans, living in J & K since three generations, after getting their domicile certificates, have now got their citizenship rights.
The Indian Constitution, with all its amendments, is now applicable to J&K. As a result of the application of 170 central laws, a number of progressive laws such as Right to Education, Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act-2001, National Commission for Minority Act, Right to Fair Compensation of land acquired and acts for benefit of women and children have now become fully applicable to J&K. These laws guarantee justice and fairness to the underprivileged such as scheduled castes and tribes, women, children and senior citizens.
People were fed up with family Raj and family politics, which created a mess in the state and made corruption endemic to it. The repudiation of Articles 370 and 35A has heralded a new dawn of empowerment, equity and development. The rights of women marrying outside the union territory now stand fully protected and gender discrimination has ended.
The special status of Article 370 and 35 A had insulated the state from the other parts of India leaving it backward while resources meant for the region’s development was being siphoned off into wrong hands and did not reach the ordinary people and the marginalised communities. On Nov 7, 2015, Prime Minister Modi announced a Reconstruction Plan of Rs. 80,068 crores for strengthening socio-economic infrastructure, humanitarian relief, crisis management and development of J&K. Accordingly, Post 370 has witnessed a new sunrise by reinforcing governance, accelerating development, building infrastructure, generating employment, broadening social inclusion and promoting growth.
Long years of unrest had adversely affected the state’s democratic institutions, particularly those at the grassroots 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 of J&K, panchayati raj institutions were established and made functional and Rs. 366 crore was released directly to 4483 panchayats, which was always earlier diverted to vested pockets.
The Modi Government has religiously monitored and ensured progress on all fronts. Work on the 2273 languishing projects was started; 506 projects stand completed while 963 projects are scheduled for completion by March 2021. Some of the major projects completed are IIT Jammu and Srinagar-Leh transmission line while works on mega projects including the Z Morh, Zoji La and New Banihal tunnels and some major roads are being executed on a war footing.
Rs. 881 crores was earmarked for rebuilding health institutions and 60 out of the 144 projects have been completed. There has been a major progress in hydro-power generation and flood management of the river Jhelum. Work has been speeded up in the Jhelum–Tawi Recovery Project, Chenab Bridge (the highest railway bridge in the world), connectivity of Kashmir by rail, mega-multi projects line Ujh and Shahpur Kandi as also the 330 MW Kishenganga project.
To promote transparency, Government of India has got instituted a portal namely the J & K Infrastructure Monitoring System (JKIMS) by which the progress of work on ground is being physically monitored on real-time basis. The system enables real time monitoring and has features like geo-tagging, project completion certificate, image uploading facility of finished projects as well as dashboard for monitoring of progress. A dash board has been created on the portal for public so that the status of project implementation in each district can be accessed by any individual in order to encourage community participation for strengthening grass-root democracy and encourage social audit of the projects by the beneficiaries.
Prime Minister Modi has transformed the ‘Tasveer’ of J & K and “Taqdeer” of the people by more than fulfilling their aspirations. After the new UT of J& K came into being, there was a creation of 45000 employment opportunities, vigorous road construction works, initiation and acceleration of several power generation and transmission projects, process of setting up of over 330 schools and colleges and a university, improved medical infrastructure including two AIIMS, 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. To achieve 24 x 7 power for all, 60% of works i.e. (128 out of 213 projects) have been completed. J & K achieved 100% household electrification and, for the first time after Independence, grid power has reached the border areas of Keran and Mundian, located on the LoC. This has rekindled the hope of many who had never seen electricity in their lives. Household water connections have reached 43% of J & K rural households which is double the national average of 21%; a road map has been prepared to ensure 100% coverage of piped water supply to all 18.16 lakh rural households by December 2021.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, (PMGSY) J & K has embarked on constructing 5300 kms of road by 2020-21. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has attacked the world like a storm, has also presented challenges to the government’s development efforts in J&K, which would, otherwise, have seen a great 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.
The Modi government has rationalized reservation rules to give benefit to the marginalised sections who have remained either unrepresented or under represented. Kashmiri migrants have finally benefited from a series of welfare measures like employment, transit accommodation and monthly financial assistance.
All provisions of the Central RTI Act 2005 have been enforced in J & K. The Anti-Corruption Bureau has been brought in to control corruption. For the speedy resolution of service matters, a Central Administrative Tribunal has been set-up. 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.
Abrogation of Article 370 has led to exasperation in the ranks of the terrorists; local recruitment of terrorists has dwindled. Pakistan is now encountering triple frustration – first, at the abrogation of Article 370; second, at the snub it has faced in all international fora where it has raised the Kashmir issue and, third, at the fact that all its efforts to initiate terrorist acts have only resulted in their constant decimation in every encounter.
The formation of the Union Territory of J&K has not only witnessed development but also evoked patriotism and restored confidence of the people in the constitution of India and our robust democratic system of a united sovereign India with Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity assuring the dignity of the Indian and unity and integrity of the Nation.
The pro-active measures being taken by a determined government, under PM Modi are ushering in a new era of peace, tranquillity and development – which will soon blossom and finally deliver the long awaited smile on the face of the people of the region.
(The author is former DG ITBP. Views expressed are personal)
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