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Six months after scrapping special status, union ministers to visit J&K next week


New Delhi, Jan 15: Nearly six months after the centre bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories and abrogated Article 370, a group of central ministers is expected to visit the UT of J&K to review the ground situation.

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Thirty-six Union ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the Union Territory starting from January 18 to January 24.

"The ministers will make people aware of the "positive impact" of abrogation of Article 370, which granted the state its special status and share "development initiatives taken by the government" with them," news agency PTI quoted sources as saying.

Minister of State for Home G Kishen Reddy has written a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, informing about the visit of the ministers.

In his letter, Reddy said that Home Minister Shah has desired that all members of the Union Council of Ministers pay a visit to Jammu and Kashmir, with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the Centre's policies for the overall development of the Union Territory and its people along with the steps taken by the government particularly in the past five months after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of erstwhile state.

According to reports, minister of state for home, G Kishen Reddy, law and justice minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju, minister for women and child development Smriti Irani, Mos Finance, Anurag Thakur, culture minister Prahlad Joshi and HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal are like to be part of the delegation.

There will be 51 visits to Jammu and eight to Srinagar. Union minister Smriti Irani will visit Katra and Panthal areas of Reasi district on January 19, while on the same day her cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal will be in Srinagar.

Whereas Reddy will be in Ganderbal on January 22 and Manigam on January 23, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad will visit Sopore in Baramulla district on January 24.

VK Singh is scheduled to visit Tikri in Udhampur on January 20 while Kiren Rijiju will go to Suchetgarh in Jammu on January 21. Similarly, Union ministers, R K Singh will visit Khellani in Doda district and Shripad Nayak will hold a meeting at SKICC in Srinagar.

Besides them, Union ministers Anurag Thakur, Giriraj Singh, Pralhad Joshi, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Jitendra Singh are among the other ministers who will visit different districts during the period.

The schedule for the visit of the ministers will also be discussed and finalised at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on January 17.

This will be the second round of visit by the Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on August 5.

It may be recalled that the government had recently facilitated a two-day visit to J&K by a team of 15 envoys, including US ambassador Kenneth Juster.

Mobile internet services and broadband services have been partially restored on Wednesday in parts of Jammu and Kashmir after the administration's home department allowed so for white-listed websites and institutions dealing with essential services.

The order will be effective from January 15 and will remain in force for 7 days, unless modified earlier. However, the order said there will be a complete restriction on social media applications that may facilitate 'peer to peer communication'.

The J&K administration had allowed 2G mobile connectivity in five districts of Jammu region and partially restore broadband internet facilities in Kashmir Valley.

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