The first batch of Union ministers, comprising Jitendra Singh, Ashwani Choubey and Arjun Meghwal, arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, over five months after the Centre revoked the erstwhile state’s special status, PTI reported. The three are part of a delegation of over 30 ministers, who are expected to educate locals about the development measures and schemes undertaken by the government for the region.
This is the first time Union ministers are visiting the region since the August 5 decision to amend Article 370 of the Constitution and split the region into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Singh, Meghwal, and Choubey were supposed to be part of three events in Jammu division and meet Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the region, Hindustan Times reported. However, their flight was diverted to Srinagar after it could not land in Jammu, unidentified officials said.
Ten more Union ministers are expected to reach Jammu on Sunday. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will reportedly lead another group of ministers on Tuesday. “Mostly these will be government functions like back-to-village programmes,” BJP spokesperson Brigadier (retired) Anil Gupta said. “They will make people aware about central schemes.”
There are a total of 51 trips planned for Jammu, and only eight for Srinagar, NDTV reported, citing a list accessed by it.
The Union ministers are scheduled to visit different districts of both the Union Territories from January 18 to January 24. Union minister G Kishan Reddy will travel to Ganderbal town on January 22 and Manigam on January 23.
Union minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad will visit Sopore in Baramulla district on January 24, while Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani will travel to Katra and Panthal areas of the Reasi district on January 19. Union minister and former Army chief VK Singh will visit Tikri in Udhampur on January 20 and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju will visit Suchetgarh in Jammu the next day.
Anurag Thakur, Giriraj Singh, Prahlad Joshi, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Renuka Singh, Jitendra Singh and Piyush Goyal were among the other ministers who will visit different districts during the period.
The government had last week invited envoys of 16 countries to visit Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, to understand the situation there. In October, around two dozen members of parliament from the European Union were taken to Kashmir on a highly orchestrated tour. Before that the MPs met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi.