India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said that 91 percent of the Kashmir has been opened to normal traffic and people are freely talking to their family members. Shringla’s statement comes after a delegation of Jammu and Kashmir met with Home Minister Amit Shah sharing their grievances and doubts since the state lost its special status on August 5.
“It is only 9 per cent of the Kashmir Valley that has certain (traffic) restrictions. At the same time, 26,000 landlines have been opened up in Kashmir Valley. People can talk to their relatives, people have communication. There is no communication gap whatsoever between people in the valley and their relatives in other parts of India and other parts of the world,” Shringla said.
Aiming to put the facts straight about India’s decision on Article 370, the Ambassador said that the move was aimed at re-organising the state administratively. He noted that this was the 12th time that the Indian government had gone for an administrative re-organisation.
Shringla said the administrative re-organisation of the state had in no way impinged on the boundaries of the state of Jammu and Kashmir or the Line of Control and therefore is an internal matter of India. “It was necessary given the circumstances,” he said.
Echoing Centre’s reasoning Shringla said the people of J&K will now have the opportunity to get good governance, social justice and economic development. Women who were earlier discriminated against will get their due role in the society through participation in grassroot-level elections, he added.
“Women were particularly discriminated against as they could not participate in grass-root-level panchayat elections. Women could not inherit property if they married a non-resident of the state while if a resident of J&K who was a man married a non-resident he could inherit property,” he said.
The 100 member delegation which included members of gram panchayats, sarpanchs, horticulturists, met with Amit Shah seeking clarity on the way ahead after abrogation of Article 370. The ministry has assured that the communication lockdown in the state will be lifted off completely from the state in the coming 20-25 days.
The Indian envoy said that a lot of funds did not percolate down to the grassroots even as the Centre transferred money to the states. “In the last 15 years alone, the government of India allocated $42 billion for the development of J&K but very little of this reached the grassroot level,” he stated.
Jammu and Kashmir was under a lockdown with Section 144 imposed across Srinagar and other sensitive areas of the Valley earlier. The government snapped telephone, mobile and Internet services in the Valley and deployed heavy security to control any untoward incidents. But there were many reports of protests, stone-pelting, and violence as angered citizens remained under strict restrictions.
The clampdown is currently being relaxed in stages and mobile and internet connectivity have been restored in several areas.