January 2020 News

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Begins Centre's Kashmir Outreach

21 January 2020
The Hindu


Srinagar: Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday became the first Union Minister to visit the Kashmir valley as part of the Centre's outreach programme following the August 5 decision to end J&K's autonomous status, and chose the underdeveloped pocket of Dara in Srinagar's Harwan to kick-start the tour. Amid snowfall, Mr. Naqvi addressed a gathering of about 300 people, most of them residents of the under-developed hilly pocket of Dara. To connect with the people, he promised that the Haj quota for locals would be raised and asserted that the 'change being witnessed' in mainland India 'will be reflected in J&K too'. 'It is the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that J&K too joins the development trajectory of the country. It was the termite of corruption that destroyed this paradise, with people only pursuing their personal gains. For decades, aspirations of locals have been ignored. However, the Centre is for positive and effective change on the ground,' said Mr. Naqvi. Observing that more than 2 lakh pilgrims go on the Haj every year from India, he said, 'we ensure all the facilities are available to the Hajis'. 'To ensure transparency, India is the first country to digitise details of the journey of pilgrims,' he added. The Minister quoted poet Muhammad Iqbal as he chose to ignore the criticism that only eight tours by five Union Ministers had been scheduled for the Kashmir valley compared with 52 tours and public interactions by 31 Ministers in the Jammu region, where the BJP had garnered a significant vote share in the previous parliamentary polls. 'Sitaron se aage jahan aur bhi hain, Abhi waqt kay imtihaan aur bhi hai [Treat my visit as just a small beginning],' said Mr. Naqvi. The Centre, he said, wanted a 'new dawn of development and accountability' in the functioning of the government machinery in J&K following the reading down of Article 370. During his Srinagar tour, the Union Minister virtually inaugurated a bridge over the river Jhelum at Malroo, built at a cost of ₹16.53 crore, a forest protection force for the 1,223.69 sqm tract at Bemina, at a cost of ₹6.62 crore, and laid the foundation for a high school building at Dara, coming up at a cost of ₹97.01 lakh. The Minister also toured the Dal Lake and interacted with members of the boatmen community. He heard their demands and assured them that the Centre was working on various fronts to promote tourism in Kashmir. Residents of Gujjar Basti used the meeting to demand accountability for the funds released by the Centre and implementation of the Forest Act. A delegation of Gujjar youth of Kashmir demanded that the 'Gojri' language be included in the 8th schedule, and sought political reservation in the State. They also demanded that a Tribal Research Centre be set up in Kashmir University along the pattern of the facility at Jammu University. Four more Union Ministers will visit Kashmir in the coming days and tour Ganderbal and Baramulla districts.

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