Rajnath Singh Kashmir Visit: With ‘Open Mind’, Home Minister Meets J&K CM
SRINAGAR: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh landed in Srinagar this morning and headed straight for a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. During the four-day visit, the longest by a home minister in years, Rajnath Singh will travel to Jammu and Rajouri as well Anantnag in south Kashmir and meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits and business leaders. The Home Minister had set the tone for the visit yesterday, declaring that he was going with an “open mind” and ready to meet with anyone who wishes to help resolve differences through dialogue.
- “I am going there with an open mind and I am willing to meet anyone who will help us in finding solutions to problems facing J&K,” Mr Singh tweeted before he left Delhi.
- Minutes before his plane touched down at the heavily guarded Srinagar airport, there was a bloody reminder of the many challenges that the border state faces. Pakistani forces started shelling at some places along the Line of Control in Poonch district. A home ministry spokesman in Delhi said the retaliatory firing by the army is continuing.
- A few hours later, a gunfight also started in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district when security forces cordoned a village on the outskirts of Sopore town where some terrorists were reportedly hiding. One terrorist was killed.
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh will get a briefing about these incidents and get a clear sense of the impact that the National Investigation Agency’s crackdown to choke terror funding is having at the ground level at a comprehensive security review meeting on Sunday. Chief Minister and the top brass of the Army, CRPF and state police will be present.
- At his meeting with Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh reviewed implementation of the Rs. 80,000 crore package announced by PM Modi in 2015. He told officials to fast-track the projects. “It will create jobs for the people of J&K,” he said.
- Mr Singh will also interact with the personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who have been in the forefront of the anti-terrorist operations in the state in Anantnag.
- The Home Minister is also likely to interact with college students in Srinagar to get their views on the unrest in Kashmir. He will wrap up the Srinagar leg of the visit on Monday with a Press conference.
- He will travel to the border district of Rajouri and later, Jammu where he will meet traders, migrants, Kashmiri Pandits and representatives of other communities.
- In his August 15 speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stressed that the protracted unrest in the state cannot be resolved either by bullets or by abuses, and that a solution can only be found by embracing all Kashmiris. Four days later, Mr Rajnath Singh set a 2022 deadline for the NDA government to find a solution to the Kashmir problem.
- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who heads the Congress policy planning group on Kashmir, will also lead a team of party leaders to Jammu and Kashmir next week for discussions on the current situation in the state with party workers and “like-minded” groups.