STATE TIMES NEWS Bhubaneswar: Hailing scrapping of Article 370 as a symbol of “gallantry and peace”, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Saturday said people of Kashmir now look forward to a bright future as the Centre has launched the process of providing jobs to 50,000 people. He also slammed Congress accusing its leaders of expressing divergent views on abrogation of Article 370, which accorded special status to Kashmir, and asked the grand old party to make its stand clear on the issue. “If Article 370 had given rise to terrorism, its abrogation will make Kashmir a new paradise,” the Union Jal Shakti minister said. “Abrogation of Article 370 was not only a historic and bold move, but it also symbolised ‘Shaurya’ and ‘Shanti’ (gallantry and peace). It will play a major role in bringing peace and brotherhood in Kashmir,” Shekhawat said. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah displayed tremendous courage and political will in scrapping provisions of Article 370 which hindered development of Kashmir and pushed its people into miseries. The minister was speaking at a Rashtriya Ekta Abhiyan programme organised here by BJP to make people aware of the facts about Article 370. Stating that benefits of abrogation of Article 370, which was a blot on the country, are clearly visible now, Shekhawat said the people of Kashmir realise that the bold move is in their best interest.
Noting that the centre has already initiated steps to boost development in the valley and ensure welfare of its people, the union minister said corporate houses are keen to set up projects in many sectors which will generate employment opportunities in a big way.
Work has been initiated to fill over 50,000 vacant government posts in Kashmir, making it the biggest such drive in the state, while many such measures are being taken as part of the Rs 80,000 crore special package announced earlier by the prime minister, he said.
Similarly, people of Kashmir, who were deprived of the benefits of many central schemes, are now eligible for getting the fruits of all programmes like Ujjwala scheme and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), he added.
People of Kashmir are now entitled to the benefits of the provision of reservation, Shekhawat said adding all laws, including domestic violence, exploitation of children, will be applicable now.
The multi-dimensional society in Kashmir, which was poisoned due to the special provisions of Article 370, will soon be transformed into an abode of peace, brotherhood and harmony and witness a boom in economic activities.
Kashmir is endowed with natural resources and scenic landscapes, but it remained backward for 70 years as a handful of leaders sought to protect their own personal interests.
The BJP leader said some people and political parties are spreading lies and misleading propaganda on the issue, but the Centre’s bold move has drawn wide support within the country and abroad.
The union minister dismissed allegations that there were restrictions imposed across Kashmir and said the valley did not witness any largescale violence as in the past.
Noting that restrictions, imposed after August 5 move, have been lifted from most parts of Kashmir, he said curbs remained in force only in some areas as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.
While shops and markets are open, schools, colleges and offices are recording good attendance as the situation is improving rapidly, he said.
He said the decision to scrap the provisions of the Article caused frustration and desperation only among those handful who thrived because of the special status.
On the other hand, revocation of the special provision will go a long way in fulfilling the aspirations and dreams of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
On the contention of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a part of India and the country wants to have physical jurisdiction over it one day, the minister said “our stand is very clear on PoK.”
The programme was also addressed by Union Minister of State for MSME Pratap Sarangi, BJP National Vice-President Baijayant Panda and state unit president and Lok Sabha MP Basant Panda.
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