STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Senior Indian army officials on Thursday briefed envoys from 24 countries visiting Jammu and Kashmir about the role of the Pakistani army in running terror factories across the Line of Control by organising training camps, officials said.The envoys, including from member states of the European Union (EU), Brazil, Malaysia, were also briefed about the role of the Pakistani army in helping terrorist infiltrate into India, infiltration patterns and use of drones by Pakistan to airdrop weapons meant for terrorists, they said.Use of tunnels for pushing terrorists into India, especially in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir, was highlighted by the army, which also gave a detailed presentation about the weapons, bearing markings of the Pakistani army, seized from various militants.Tunnels were being used following a drop in the number of terrorists sneaking into India from across the Line of Control (LoC) due to heightened vigil and changed tactics in the army’s counter-infiltration grid, the officials said.On the situation in the Kashmir Valley, the army officials highlighted Wednesday evening’s incident when a son of a prominent eatery owner was shot and critically wounded by terrorists at his shop in a high-security area of the city.This was a part of the terrorists’ game plan to silence either moderate voices in Kashmir or those who refused to follow their diktat, they said.The army also gave a detailed briefing on how internet-warfare was used by Pakistani establishments to brainwash youngsters through social media platforms.Coming to the situation post the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, the army officials said there has been no loss of life due to the action of security forces.There has been a marked decrease in law and order problems and incidents of stone pelting have seen a sharp decline, the army officials told the visiting envoys, and also shared their experience during the recent District Development Council (DDC) elections, which were conducted successfully.Besides terrorism and the situation along the LoC, the officials informed the envoys about the assistance being provided to people living in far-flung areas. They were also informed about the tourism sector in the Kashmir Valley and achievements of the Kashmiri people in various fields.The visiting envoys also met representatives of various civil society groups and elected panchayat and urban local bodies (ULB) members here to get a first-hand appraisal of the situation during the recently held DDC elections — the first democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir post the nullification of Article 370.Representatives of West Pakistani Refugees and Walmiki Samaj, the two communities who were deprived of voting rights over the past seven decades and voted for the first time in the local elections, briefed the envoys about their experience, officials said.We briefed them about the establishment of the three-tier panchayati raj and implementation of the 74th amendment. While the elections to panchayats was held for the fourth time in J-K compared to 14 times in rest of the country, the implementation of the 74th amendment of the constitution after 28 years was possible only after the abrogation of the Article 370, Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) Mayor Chander Mohan Gupta told reporters.Gupta, a senior BJP leader who led a delegation in the meeting, said the previous governments in the erstwhile state were not interested in empowering the people at the grass-roots level.They were only interested in Parliament and assembly elections, he said.The delegation also briefed the envoys about other positives including development which has been speeded up after the August 5 2019 measure, Gupta said.Vice president of West Pakistani Refugees Sukhdev Singh Manhas said, I told them what we have been subjected to over the past 73 years under the garb of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution.This was for the first time we voted in the local elections and for that we are thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The post August 5 2019 development gave us rights and now we can vote, contest elections, avail government jobs and own properties, he said.Echoing Manhas, Valmiki Samaj representatives — Akash Kumar and Vanisha — said they told the envoys that the foremost benefit which they saw after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 was that the community took part in the District Development Council (DDC) elections held in November-December last year for the first time.Vandana, a BJP sarpanch, said the envoys were very curious to know about the response of the people during election campaigning.We told them that the people are happy with the development which gave us a full-fledged panchayat system including 33 percent reservation to women, she said, adding the people overwhelmingly voted in the democratic exercise to choose their representatives.DDC member Rajinder Sharma from Rajouri highlighted the issues of Pahari community and thanked the central government for granting four percent reservation in public sector employment and admission to educational and professional institutions.The past governments ignored the community, which constitutes 9 percent of the total population of J-K with majority of them being Muslims, he said.The community suffered immensely due to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as majority of its members live near the Line of Control and face frequent shelling from across the border, Sharma said.He expressed hope that the Modi government would do justice with this hardcore nationalist community by granting scheduled tribe status in near future.Another DDC member from Rajouri Mohammad Iqbal Malik said Article 370 was a huge barrier in the path of development especially in the far flung areas of the erstwhile state.With its abrogation many deprived sections of the region including scheduled caste community, Valmiki Samaj, Gorkha community, women, Gujjars and Bakerwals have all got equal political, economic and social rights, he said.He praised the central government for holding block development council and DDC elections to set up a three-tier panchayati raj system for the first time in the history of J-K.The common man in J-K is very happy with the implementation of all centrally-sponsored schemes. What is required now is the joint efforts of international community to come together and help us in our fight against Pakistan’s state sponsored terrorism, he said, and also raised the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and said the Pakistani government and its army have been doing human rights violations there.
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