Lashing out at National Conference president Farooq Abdullah for advocating talks with Pakistan on Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday said he would instead talk to the youth of J&K for making it the most developed part in the country.
"I read in newspapers that Farooq Abdullah has suggested that the government should talk to Pakistan. He has a right to his opinion but we would rather talk to the Kashmiri youth," Shah said while addressing a function at the SKICC in Srinagar.
Shah who is on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir—his first since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019—remotely inaugurated several development projects and laid the foundation stone of some.
"The repealing of Article 370 had only one intention -- to put Kashmir, Jammu and newly created Ladakh (Union Territory) on the path of development. You will see the fruits of our efforts by 2024," he said.
The article, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated in August 2019 and the state was bifurcated into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Shah inaugurated a 500-bed hospital at Bemina, completed at a cost of Rs 115 crore, laid the foundation stone for the Handwara Medical College, a Rs 46-crore steel girder bridge over the Ferozepur Nallah in Baramulla district and road projects worth Rs 4,000 crore, among others.
The home minister, who is on his Jammu and Kashmir visit's third day, said that those who advocate talks with Islamabad and separatists should be asked what has Pakistan done in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
"Compare the development between this side and PoK. Do they have electricity, roads, healthcare and toilets. There is nothing (on the other side). You (Kashmiris) have the same rights as any other Indian," he said.
Without naming the Congress, the National Conference and the Peoples’ Democratic Party, he said while only three medical colleges were set up by the "three families which have ruled Jammu and Kashmir", Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ensured seven new medical colleges and these are coming up.
"Earlier, 500 youths could become doctors ... now 2,000 youths can become doctors from these new medical colleges. Nobody will need to go to Pakistan to study medicine," he said.
Shah said the schemes and the plans of the Modi government will ensure that Jammu and Kashmir will be the most developed province of the country.
He sought the cooperation of the people to realise this dream. "It is only the youth of Jammu and Kashmir who can work towards achieving this goal," he said.
Asserting that the government is aiming to wipe out terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir and put an end to civilian killings, Shah said nobody would be allowed to disrupt peace and development in the Union Territory, which has a special place in Prime Minister Modi's heart.
Defending the curbs on internet services and imposition of curfew in the aftermath of abrogation of Article 370, he said that "some people would have misled the masses. Who would have been killed? The Kashmiri youth. We know how heavy the coffin of a young son is for an old man".
He said that 40,000 people have been killed in Kashmir in violence and it should stop now.
"This many people do not die even in wars. We have to come back and take Kashmir to new heights of development," he said.
The minister said Rs 12,000 crore worth of investment has already come to the Union Territory and the government aims at a total of Rs 51,000 crore by the end of 2022 to provide five lakh jobs to the local youth.
Shah said "three families" are answerable to the people for their failure to develop Jammu and Kashmir over the past seven decades.
"The new phase of development under the leadership of Modi has started in J&K but attempts are being made by inimical elements to create hurdles. I have come here to assure you that nobody will be able to create a hurdle and disrupt peace and development," Shah said.
He said a new phase of development has started and this cannot be stopped by anyone.
Listing various steps taken by the government since the formation of the BJP government at the Centre, Shah said five lakh jobs are being created in Jammu and Kashmir, while 20,000 people have been provided government jobs in the past two years.
"The three families used to say who will come and invest in J&K.... in just six months after announcing a new industrial policy, we have got an investment of Rs 7,000 crore in Jammu and Rs 6,000 crore in Kashmir and are looking forward to an investment of Rs 50,000 crore by the end of 2022, the minister said.
Targeting the "three families", he said they were asking what the government is going to give to Jammu and Kashmir.
"We have a long list of what we have given to J&K and the people know it very well but the people are demanding an answer from them as to what they have given to J&K despite ruling the erstwhile state for the past seven decades. Have you thought of anyone else other than your own family members?" Shah asked. (With PTI inputs)