Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Saturday met a group of Kashmiri students in Lucknow and told them that dialogue was the most important element in a democracy, PTI reported. “We are living in a democratic society and it should be kept in mind that dialogue could be the most important medium in it,” he said. “We have to make new efforts with this view in mind.”

His comments came even as restrictions, including a communication blockade, have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, when the Union government scrapped special status for the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. There was no discussion with the state’s representatives, and several political leaders were either detained or put under house arrest before the decision was announced.

“We also need to understand what democracy actually means,” Adityanath added. “There will be prosperity in our lives only when there is development. How could we become a part in the development process?” The chief minister added that people want basic facilities and guarantee of employment.

Adityanath told the students that the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution of India will not have any adverse effect on Kashmiris. Instead, he claimed, the move will accelerate the development of Kashmir.

Adityanath asked the students to share their trials, tribulations and doubts. “If you have any suggestion, tell us,” he said. “If you find anything wrong, remain calm and tell me about it separately. This will help create a better atmosphere. Providing security and facilities to Kashmiri students is the priority of the state government. We will also help in case there is any problem with the scholarship and fees issue.”

There have been several reports of attacks on Kashmiri students in different parts of the country. State and central intelligence agencies interrogated a Kashmiri youth on September 5 after a video of him being attacked by a mob in Neemrana in Alwar district of Rajasthan started doing the rounds on social media.

Several Kashmiri students were reportedly harassed and beaten up in the Dehradun following the Pulwama terror attack in South Kashmir in which 40 security personnel were killed, on February 14. Since then, many Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand had temporarily left the state. Nearly 300 Kashmiri students have fled to Jammu and Delhi from colleges in Uttarakhand after large-scale eviction from their campuses.

“There is a large number of students belonging to Kashmir studying in Uttar Pradesh,” Adityanath said on Saturday. “We will sit with them in Greater Noida soon and try to resolve all their problems concerning the local administration.”

The event was originally meant to discuss the advantages of the abrogation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri students studying at the Aligarh Muslim University had on Friday decided to boycott the event, PTI reported.

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