Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy on Monday said the Centre was focused on the development of Jammu and Kashmir, and that Assembly elections will be held in the proposed Union territory once the situation becomes normal.

“We have successfully done sarpanch elections [in 2018], now we will conduct block development council elections by November or December and then we will conduct district development council election,” Reddy said. “This will give a push to our development plan for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.”

Jammu and Kashmir had a Legislative Assembly until last year but it was dissolved and the state has been under President’s Rule since then. In August, the state lost its special status and the government decided to split it into two Union territories, which will come into existence on October 31. One of them, which will have the same name as the present state, will have an elected Legislative Assembly. Ladakh, the other Union territory, will not have an Assembly.

Reddy said government jobs will be provided to five youths from every village in Jammu and Kashmir based on merit, and a special recruitment drive for the defence forces will be conducted. “Also, recruitment will be made into the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, CRPF, BSF among others,” Reddy said. “Central government departments have been asked to prepare an action plan for development of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The minister said that in the coming days, the government would survey thousands of temples that were shut in the Valley and take steps to open schools and theatres closed for years.

He hit out at those who said the ongoing communication blockade in the state was a violation of rights, and asked where these people were when the rights of people and women did not exist under Article 370 of the Constitution. Reddy said restrictions were imposed because of the law and order situation.

Restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, when the Union government abrogated the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. Mainstream politicians such as National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, the party’s leader Omar Abdullah, and Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti are under detention. Restrictions are being lifted gradually, and according to the government and the Army, life is back to normal in many parts of the state.

Also read: Kashmir Press Club denounces restrictions in Valley, says they are ‘unwarranted and unreasonable’

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