After reaching out to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Russia, Narendra Modi gave a big outreach to Jammu and Kashmir. According to news reports published by various publications Union government is finalising a massive “development package” of as much as Rs. 70,000 crore. The package will be far higher than the one announced by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2004 under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Package of Rs. 24,000 crore (revised later to Rs. 36,265 crore) and is expected to be disbursed along the same lines. The projects will include a medical institute, affiliated to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in Anantnag, an Indian Institute of Technology each in Jammu and in Kashmir, and an Indian Institute of Management in Jammu. State government put together several proposals, pitching for projects estimated at Rs. 1,00,000 crore. The common minimum programme of the ruling alliance of the PDP and BJP has development agenda for Alliance. Srinagar and Jammu will see major urban development projects and satellite “smart cities” called “New Srinagar” and “New Jammu”.
The funds will be spent over the next five years on projects to be identified by the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government. PM Modi had also announced his development agenda for J&K, Prakash, Paryavaran, Paryatan on August 12, 2014. The new package is about three times the figure announced by the UPA in 2004. Funds will be used for roadways, education, health, power renewable energy, smart cities, urban renewal and tourism projects. Bharatiya Janata Party and the Union and the State governments say the package will be announced in the coming week, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns from his Central Asian tour and coinciding with Eid-ul-Fitr, which will fall on July 18 or 19. Modi, along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will visit Jammu on July 17 to attend the centenary celebrations of the State leader Girdhari Lal Dogra. It is likely to bring much cheer, especially in parts of the State such as the Kashmir Valley that were badly hit by the floods last September and this April. In June, the government announced a flood rehabilitation package of Rs. 2,437 crore taking the Centre’s assistance over the past year to Rs. 5,039 crore. Infusion of such large amount of funds seems quite indigestible and irrational; however, such steps shouldn’t be just to calm the political hunger. Instead, it must ensured that it had been used for genuine agendas of national and international significance.
Narendra Modi is trying his level best to appease Muslims in J&K, but he never spoke about the Kashmiri pandits those who are in living in transit camp for last 26 years. During election campaign, Modi has promised Kashmiri Hindus, but now he is ignoring them. Moreover, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not like any other state of India. As a citizen of this country, we can purchase property in any other state but we cannot purchase a piece of land in Jammu & Kashmir. While, people of J&K can migrate to other states and enjoy benefits as other citizens are enjoying. With the least of hassles, the citizens of that state are known to wave the flags of Pakistan. In such conditions, what is the logic that the government of India in pumping huge amounts of tax payer’s money there? The central government should firmly say that they are prepared to invest such money in the state, provided they agree to fully get themselves integrated into the Union of India by abrogation of Article 370. Otherwise, Modi is doing a great disservice to the rest of India.
Moreover, just allotting funds for Jammu and Kashmir is not enough, they should constitute a committee involving Senior Secretaries of both the Central and State Government to closely monitor the projects covered under the Centre’s Package and see that the Contracts are awarded to the right people, strictly on the merit basis. Transparency should be maintained at every stage and money should not go in to wrong or corrupt hands. Everyone is aware of the massive scams involving thousands of crores of rupees that are swallowed by politicians and their associates across the Country. Everything should be done to ensure that the people of J&K reap the full benefits of this special package from the PM.
Earlier during Lok Sabha elections, Modi strengthened the party’s rhetoric on Article 370 giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir, saying it should be debated whether the constitutional provision has been beneficial for the state. The BJP’s position to scrap Article 370 under which Jammu & Kashmir enjoys a certain degree of autonomy, is in doubt. Describing his Jammu visit as ‘Lalkar’ or call to battle, he challenged all parties including the Congress to have a debate on the continuation of Article 370. Even Modi had said women weren’t given equal rights in the state unlike the rest of the country. Attacking the Congress, Modi then said it has encouraged separatism in J&K by ignoring its integration to make it a “super state” as Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted. There are too much talks, assurances and future promised to people of this state but nothing much has been delivered so far. Let’s see, how much changes Modi will bring in Jammu and Kashmir.