Syed Ali Safvi
Press TV, Kashmir
In a rare move, New Delhi has launched an outreach program in a bid to engage with the people in Indian administered Kashmir.
As part of the much-anticipated program, a high-level delegation of Indian ministers is on a visit the disputed territory with the aim of informing people about government plans and programs.
This is the first high profile delegation visiting the volatile region after India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party stripped the region of its special status on Aug 5 and divided Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories under direct control of New Delhi.
The visiting ministers interact with the people and public representatives. They said New Delhi is committed to bring development and prosperity to the region, and also urged people to benefit from different government schemes.
Locals who met the visiting ministers expressed serious concerns about losing jobs to non-state residents after the revocation of Kashmir’s special status and demanded protection.
Political observers here believe that the visit of Ministers is aimed at conning the world community into believing that everything is normal in Kashmir after the abrogation of the region’s special status. They accuse New Delhi of trying to manipulate the ground reality and present a rosy picture of the situation to the outside world.
India's opposition Congress party and its allies have also criticized the government for the move. New Delhi is yet to allow any opposition leader or any rights activist to visit Kashmir where top political leaders including three former chief ministers continue to remain under house arrest.
New Delhi had promised special status to Kashmir when the region was partitioned between India and Pakistan seven decades ago.
However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist BJP have long opposed Kashmir’s autonomy.