New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) Asserting that normalcy has returned to Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that not a single civilian was killed in police firing in the valley since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
Replying to Congress leader T. Subbarami Reddy’s question in the Rajya Sabha over restoration of normalcy in the valley, Shah reiterated that normalcy has returned in the valley, schools, colleges, shops and markets are open and the law and order situation is extremely normal.
About internet connectivity in the valley, Shah said: “As far as internet is concerned, its restoration will be carried out at an appropriate time on administration inputs. Currently, at 195 places e-connectivity zone has been created”.
While Shah was providing a detailed report on the current scenario in the valley, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad countered his statements saying education is in a dismal state in the valley.
“Schools and colleges have been opened, but there is negligible attendance. There is no provision to ensure that students are able to commute from school to their homes safely,” he said.
Commenting over Shah’s arguments on snapping internet services, Azad said: “There has been threat from Pakistan for several years, there is nothing new about the situation. Then why such draconian measures? How will students continue their education without integral internet services?”
Replying to Azad’s query, Shah stressed that the government has to prioritise issues in view of the country’s security. “I agree that internet services are a necessity today but when it comes to the national security, the safety of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and our fight against terror, we need to prioritise our necessities, Shah said.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Majeed Menon asked the Home Minister to provide an estimate by when the situation in Kashmir will be restored to its normal state. The minister replied, “The situation is normal only. Schools and colleges are open, the apple industry is recovering well and normal life has resumed in every way possible in the Valley.”
Shah said that no civilian has been killed in Kashmir in police firing since abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. “Not a single person has died in police firing since August 5 in Jammu and Kashmir. There has been a dip in the incidents of stone pelting. All newspapers are in circulation, all TV channels are running and all banks are operational in Kashmir,” said Shah.
“Curbs imposed under Section 144 stand withdrawn from all 195 police stations. Stone pelting incidents down from 802 in last year to 544 this year so far,” he said adding that the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India has procured apples from the farmers over there.
He asked the House members if anyone has any information about a single farmer in the valley facing a problem or crisis, the member can call him at any point of time. He assured the House that he would ensure that the distressed farmer problem is resolved within 24 hours. He also said that all the hospitals are functioning normally and if anyone in the rural parts of the valley is in need of medical help, he will personally ensure that the person is attended to properly.
Shah said that a total of 7.66 lakh patients visited OPDs in Srinagar hospitals in September and 7.91 lakh in October. “This confirms no problem in medical facilities there. Mobile medicine vans have also started. The administration has taken care of health services,” he said.
Minister of State G. Kishan Reddy said that 609 people are in jail in the valley as of Wednesday. This number, he argued, was only 151 more than the number of people jailed at the same time last year – 458.
“There has been an incorrect propaganda going on that thousands of people are in custody. Only 151 more than last year are in jail. As of August 5, a total of 5,161 people including stone pelters, separatists, political leaders, were put under preventive custody,” Reddy said.
He said that a review committee had been formed which would look after the release of detainees from time to time. “At present, 609 persons are under detention, of which approximately 218 are stone pelters,” he said.
When asked whether the Union Home Ministry was considering allowing Farooq Abdullah, who is a member of the Lok Sabha from Srinagar, to attend the Winter Session, Reddy argued that Abdullah is detained in the national interest.
“In national interest at different times different people have been arrested. During Emergency you arrested 33 MPs just to save one parliamentarian. People have been detained for national interest, to maintain law and order,” said Reddy.
At this, a huge uproar broke out in the House with the Opposition claiming that both the situations are different and one cannot compare them. When Shah decided to reply to the Opposition, Question Hour ended. The Chairman of the House Venkaiah Naidu directed Shah to lay the answer on the table of the House.