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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

From Kashmir to Assam, home minister Amit Shah has his work cut out

Shah will have his plate full -- from handling the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which may go to the polls by November, to carrying through with the National Register of Citizens in Assam.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2019 16:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times,New Delhi
Amit Shah isn’t new to the responsibilities of a home minister.  He was the home minister of Gujarat and held other portfolios from 2002 to 2010.
Amit Shah isn’t new to the responsibilities of a home minister. He was the home minister of Gujarat and held other portfolios from 2002 to 2010.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
         

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has become the 30th home minister of India and perhaps in that honour, soon after the ministerial portfolios of the new Council of Ministers was published on Friday, the home ministry office in the nearly 100-year old North Block on Raisina Hill went through a round of cleaning.

The nameplate outside the minister’s room was changed -- twice over -- and a new red carpet was vacuumed a few times during the day in anticipation of the minister reaching North Block. His taciturn, media-shy predecessor, Rajnath Singh, moved to across the road to the Defence Ministry in South Block. Shah, though, didn’t visit the office on Friday and is expected to take charge at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday.

Amit Shah isn’t new to the responsibilities of a home minister. He was the home minister of Gujarat and held other portfolios from 2002 to 2010.

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Soon after the news of Shah’s appointment to the post reached North Block, joint secretaries in the ministry began putting together a presentation highlighting the challenges facing and progress made. . “Formal briefings may be asked for. We are keeping things ready,” a senior official who did not want to be named said.

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Shah will have his plate full -- from handling the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which may go to the polls by November, to carrying through with the National Register of Citizens in Assam.

The Supreme Court-monitored NRC is likely to put out the final list of people who have qualified as Indian citizens in the state of Assam in July 2019. Updating the NRC was one of the key demands of the All Assam Students Union and other organisations that signed the 1985 Assam Accord with the government. The first draft of the NRC was released on July 2018, leaving out as many as four million of the state’s residents. The fate of those who fail to qualify as Indian citizens hangs in balance.

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There are other challenges as well in the region. A half-done peace deal to end Naga insurgency – the oldest insurgency in India – is one.

Then there’s Jammu and Kashmir. Sustained counter-terror operations by the military, paramilitary and the local police have pushed violence levels down but the BJP may want to push ahead with its articulated primise of doing away with Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution giving special privileges and powers to the state.

First Published: Jun 01, 2019 07:24 IST