Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the democratic process would soon be initiated in Jammu and Kashmir. However, he did not give a specific timeline for the development.
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also said the government cannot provide a specific time frame for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the region.
"With the abrogation of Article 370 (of the Constitution), our aim is to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir as swiftly as possible. We are committed to commencing the democratic process in the region at the earliest, thus fulfilling the long-standing aspirations of its people," Singh said in response to a query from PTI on when will the Assembly polls be held in the Union Territory.
Asked whether the restoration of the legislative setup (holding elections) would enhance or disrupt the security situation, he said he cannot offer a precise time frame for conducting the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir. However, he expressed confidence that the process would not be unnecessarily delayed.
"I cannot provide a specific time frame, but I assure you that it will not be a lengthy process. That is what I can confidently say," Singh said.
Addressing a security conclave in Jammu, the defence minister said, "Today, the AFSPA has been removed from large parts of the northeast. I eagerly await the day when a lasting peace will be established in Jammu and Kashmir and the AFSPA can also be lifted from the region."
"I cannot give you any time frame", he added.
In response to queries on the opposition's demand to send an all-party delegation to Manipur for an assessment of the ground situation in the violence-hit northeastern state, Singh said the home ministry would take appropriate decisions in the matter.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs will consider the ground situation and make decisions that are in the best interest of Manipur. The justifiability of the decisions will be ensured," he said.
Asked about concerns regarding China's assistance to Pakistan in constructing border infrastructure, Singh said, "We possess the capability to address any such challenge. We will undoubtedly overcome such challenges."