Union home minister Amit Shah will arrive in Srinagar on Saturday for a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and chair security review meetings, address panchayat members as well as political workers amid a wave of targeted attacks that have left 11 civilians dead in the region this month.
This will be Shah’s first visit to J&K since the nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370 in August 2019 to strip the region of its semi-autonomous status. It comes against the backdrop of the killings including of five migrant workers. The violence has forced many migrant workers to leave the Kashmir Valley.
Sunil Sharma, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in J&K, said they have been told Shah will arrive in Srinagar and then travel to Jammu. “He will again visit Kashmir before leaving for New Delhi,” said Sharma. He said they have called their district presidents for one of Shah’s events. “(The) home minister will also attend a rally in Jammu…,” he said after attending a BJP meeting on Shah’s visit.
Security arrangements have been tightened across the Valley as security forces have enhanced checking and frisking, especially in Srinagar. J&K Police have said security forces have “neutralised” 17 terrorists in 10 gunbattles in the Valley amid the latest phase of violence. A soldier was also killed in an anti-insurgency operation in the Valley on Wednesday.
Shah, whose visit is part of the Centre’s continuing outreach campaign, is also expected to review the implementation of development schemes. He was last in J&K in June 2019 after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance swept to power at the Centre for the second term. The move to strip J&K of its special status under Article 370 came a few months later. Shah has pitched the change along with division of J&K into two union territories as steps that would fast track development and end terrorism in the state.
Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, G Kishan Reddy, and John Barla have been among those who have travelled to the Union territory as part of the public outreach programme.
Shah last month held a review meeting on J&K with lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha and senior security officials and also reviewed development initiatives implemented there.
In June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited J&K leaders, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, for a meeting at his residence in Delhi. The leaders demanded the restoration of the special status of J&K at the meeting.