Normalcy has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir, says Amit Shah
Responding to questions on restoration of normalcy in Kashmir in the Upper house, Shah said not a single person has been killed in police firing since August 5.
Home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is fully normal and that curbs on internet connectivity in the valley (suspended since August 5) will be lifted when the local administration believes it is appropriate to do so.
Responding to questions on restoration of normalcy in Kashmir in the Upper house, Shah said not a single person has been killed in police firing since August 5 when parliament passed laws and resolutions to bifurcate the region into two Union territories and remove its special status.
“People in this House were predicting bloodshed but I am happy to inform that no one has died in police firing. Incidents of stone pelting have declined from 802 last year to 544 so far this year,” the minister said.
Shah said prohibitory orders under Section 144 stood withdrawn from all 195 police stations and curbs were in place in some areas only from 8 pm to 6 am.
He said all 20,411 schools were open and students were appearing for their exams. He said of the 50,537 students in Class XI, 50,272 students had appeared for their exams translating into an attendance of 99.48%. He said 99.7% students in Classes X and XII had also taken their exams. He said all hospitals and health centres in Kashmir were also functional.
“Petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG and rice are adequately available and there has been an 8-16% increase in sales compared to last year. Apple production is expected to be around 22.58 lakh metric tonnes and a large chunk of it has already been moved out,” Shah said. He said all 93,247 landlines and 5.9 million mobile connections are fully operational.
As for the internet, “there are activities by Pakistan too in Kashmir region, so keeping security in mind, whenever the local authority deems it fit, a decision will be taken (on resuming internet services),” Shah said and added that he is ready for a one-hour discussion on Kashmir.
Countering Shah, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said education of children was suffering due to restrictions and insisted that the situation was anything but normal in Kashmir.
Restrictions on public movement and communications were enforced in J&K in August after the government divested the state of its special status and bifurcated it into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh. Several top political leaders of the valley, including the National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and Peoples Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti, have since been detained.
Shah admitted that the internet is important in the present-day world and that it should be restored but “when it comes to the security of J&K and its people, we have to fix our priorities.” He said it was the BJP government that started internet service in Kashmir in 2002 and mobile phones a year later. Shah said Urdu and English dailies and all TV channels were functioning and the circulation of newspapers was almost the same as last year. He said banking services were also fully functional. Shah said 36,192 cases had been filed in the HC and judgments in over 52,000 cases have been delivered since August 5. He said medicines were available and mobile vans were in place.
On another question on political leaders under detention and a supplementary query on if Farooq Abdullah would be allowed to attend Parliament, MoS Home G Kishan Reddy said that different people have been arrested from time to time in national interest.