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Here are the biggest takeaways of Amit Shah’s J&K visit


New Delhi, June 28: Union Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has concluded his two-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was his first visit as Home Minister outside the national capital. He had arrived on Wednesday and held a series of meetings to review the overall security situation, particularly measures made for the annual pilgrimage to holy Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, commencing from July 1.

Amit Shah chairs a meeting to review the security arrangements for the Amaranth Yatra, in Srinagar

As expected, Shah has given clear-cut instructions to security officials that there should be zero tolerance towards terrorism, terrorists, and terror funding.

However, a Kashmir observer, who is an academician, tells OneIndia about few biggest takeaways of Shah's Jammu and Kashmir visit.

J&K: Amit Shah meets family of martyred 'braveheart' cop Arshad Khan

According to him, one of the biggest takeaways of Shah's visit was that Hurriyat leadership didn't call for a bandh. It was for the first time in the last 30 years that the separatists kept their heads down during a visit of a national leader.

"Before the visit of Shah, Hurriyat leaders proposed talks with the Indian government and stayed away from their habit of calling bandh during the visit of national leaders. These are the signs of Centre's upper hand in Kashmir. This has become possible as a result of the strategy that Narendra Modi government adopted since coming to power for the first time in 2014," says the observer.

He adds that it would be wrong to assume that Hurriyat leaders have a change of heart but they have mellowed considering the treatment meted out to them and their godfather Pakistan during last five years.

Modi 1.0 government dealt the Hurriyat leadership and Pakistan with an iron fist. While the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan in response to Uri and Pulwama terror attacks, many Hurriyat leaders are under the lens of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) and facing court cases over money laundering and terror funding.

For example, the ED in March slapped a penalty of Rs.14.40 Lakh on Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani under the Foreign Exchange Management Act. The recent crackdown on the corruption scandal in J&K Bank has also broken the back of the Hurriyat leaders who used the J&K Bank for illegal activities in collusion with other corrupt officials of the bank.

The Modi government also successfully discarded the false notion that the Hurriyat commands great influence over the Kashmiri society.

"Like all Opposition political parties, Hurriyat leaders were also wishing that Modi government shouldn't return back to power. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned back to power with bigger majority and appointed Shah as Union Home Minister then Hurriyat leaders decided to fall in line in order to save their skin and stay relevant among Kashmiris for next five years," says the academician.

Another big takeaway of Shah's visit was that he boosted the morale of Sarpanches (village heads) of Kashmir and Ladakh region.

Amit Shah warns officials against complacency with regard to Amarnath yatra arrangements

"Prime Minister Modi and Shah realise that three-tier Panchayti Raj is key to all problems in Kashmir, particularly terrorism. Therefore, Union Home Minister gave due importance to Panchayat leaders who were elected in last year's election. Unlike the elected Panchayat leaders of 2011, the incumbent Panches and Sarpanches have full support of the J&K Administration under the Governor rule. The local bodies are providing good governance to people, which often doesn't find media coverage," he says.

According to him, the other important development was that Shah met Gujjar-Bakerwal community leaders.

"Shah's meeting with Gujjar-Bakerwal community shows that the BJP knows the ground realities of Kashmir. Gujjar-Bakerwal community lives in the border areas and is considered as eyes and ears of Indian Army. Many of them lead a nomadic life. Gujjars-Bakerwals are also the ones who bear the brunt of ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Erstwhile Union Governments didn't pay any attention towards the community, which is one of biggest assets of the country in J&K, as they believed that only Hurriyat leaders were the real stakeholders of Kashmiris," says the observer.

Gujjars of J&K have a history of sacrificing their lives for the country.

Army rifleman Aurangzeb belonged to the Gujjar community who was recently killed by terrorists. In a video released by the militants just minutes before they killed Aurangzeb, he was seen being tortured and refused to reveal any strategic details about the Indian Army's deployments in the area.

The observer says that nurturing the Gujjar-Bakerwal community is in India's largest interest as the community has been suppressed by the Kashmiri leadership since 1947.

According to him, Shah's visit to the family of J&K Police Inspector Arshad Ahmed Khan, who was martyred in a terrorist attack in Anantnag on June 12, and to the families of BJP workers, who were killed by the terrorists, will widen the feeling nationalism in the state and shrink the base of regional political parties like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party as well as Hurriyat.

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