Union Home Minister Shah reached the winter capital amid multi-layer security on his much-hyped three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Monday evening.
His visit began with a packed schedule as soon as he landed at the Technical Airport Jammu at around 7:15 pm.
Significantly, this is Shah’s third visit to J&K post abrogation of Article 370 and second (visit) in the current year. Earlier this year he visited the Union Territory on March 18 and 19. Prior to that, he conducted a four-day visit to J&K from October 23 to 26 in 2021.
Major anticipation about the current VVIP visit, comprising a string of official engagements, is with regard to a possible significant announcement with regard to ST status for Paharis during his (Home Minister’s) much awaited twin public rallies at Rajouri and Baramulla.
Accompanied by the Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh and senior officers of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), HM Shah was received by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta and top brass of civil and police administration at the airport.
BJP Core Group members viz., J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina, general secretary (organisation) Ashok Koul, MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, former Deputy Chief Ministers (DyCMs) Dr Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta besides others too were there to welcome the Home Minister.
From the airport, Shah straightway drove to the Raj Bhawan where his meetings with different delegations were lined up.
Official sources told that among major delegations which met the Home Minister and flagged their issues included those of Yuva Rajput Sabha (YRS) led by Rajan Singh and Ajatshatru Singh; Gujjar Bakarwal (ST) delegation led by Ghulam Ali Khatana (MP); Pahari delegation led by Vibodh Gupta (ex MLC); Paddar delegation led by DDC Paddar Hari Krishan; Sikh delegation led by Sarabjit Singh Johal and DDC member Ramgarh.
The YRS delegation thanked the Home Minister for declaring a holiday on the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh on September 23 and demanded the constitution of Rajput Welfare Board. The delegations also raised demands pertaining to issuance of Dogra certificate and naming of SKUAST Jammu as Baba Jitto Agriculture University.
Khatana, who met on behalf of Gujjar-Bakarwal, Gaddi, Sippi, Paharis and Kolis, thanked the Home Minister for political reservation to Gujjars; implementation of Forest Rights Act and the launch of tribal welfare schemes post abrogation of Art 370.
Sources said that one of the representatives of the SC community, during a meeting with the Home Minister, flagged the community’s concern. “If Paharis are granted reservation at the expense of the SC community, which is already at a disadvantageous situation in J&K as compared to rest of India in terms of reservation benefits, it will be a great injustice,” SC representative pointed out.(GK)