Change in people’s thinking visible in Kashmir; terrorism in last phase: Jitendra Singh

Jammu, Aug 16 (PTI) Union minister Jitendra Singh Monday said there is a visible change in the thinking of people in Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism in its “last phase” in Kashmir, which witnessed large-scale Independence Day celebrations Sunday.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office was in Kathua, part of his Udhampur parliamentary constituency, to inaugurate a high-efficiency oxygen generation plant at Government Medical College, established through the PM-Cares Fund.

“There is a change in the thinking of the people (in Kashmir). The residents of Srinagar who are moving around in lanes and bylanes want a change and be part of (Prime minister Narendra) Modi’s New India like the people in other parts of the country,” Singh told reporters after dedicating the oxygen plant to the public.

However, he said there is a “veil of fear” which is stopping the public from expressing themselves openly.

“I feel it is the last phase of terrorism there,” the minister said, responding to a question about the large scale Independence Day celebrations in the valley.

Flag hoisting ceremonies were held at many places in the valley Sunday.

Referring to the setting up of the fourth oxygen plant at GMC Kathua within a short span during the coronavirus pandemic, the minister said the prime minister has a special concern for Jammu and Kashmir, especially the gateway district of Kathua.

“The prime minister in his independence day speech of 90 minutes from the Red Fort deliberated in detail about J&K and northeastern states. He talked about the delimitation commission in J&K and assembly elections in the coming months,” Singh said.

The BJP government set up District Development Councils (DDC) for the first time and completed the elections to Panchayats in the past two years despite “hurdles”, the minister said without elaborating, but referring apparently to regional parties including National Conference and PDP which boycotted the panch and sarpanch elections besides the local bodies polls.

Asked about the developments in Afghanistan, the union minister said the “External Affairs Ministry is taking note of such things”.

“I am not supposed to comment on the issue but the concerned ministry has taken note of the happenings there,” he said.

The minister reached Kathua, which falls in his home constituency of Udhampur, and attended several functions in the district.