Assurances of restoration of statehood at "early opportunity", no demographic change and release of all political prisoners in "due course" were the takeaways from Union Home Minister Amit Shah's meeting with a political delegation of the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party here on Sunday.
Expressing confidence that "visible changes will be seen on the ground in the next few months, the home minister also assured the delegation that the NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take all steps for the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir".
The political delegation, which is the first one after the abrogation of special status on August 5 last year by the Centre, had called on the prime minister on Saturday.
Engaging with the delegation on about 40-odd issues raised by them, the home minister emphasised that there is no intention of the government for demographic change in the region and "all such talks have no basis at all".
In a similar assurance as given by the prime minister to the delegation, Shah said the government will work with all sections of the society to realize the hopes of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an early opportunity, an official statement said.
Shah referred to the prime minister's address to the nation after the abrogation of Article 370 and said that and even he, himself in his speech in Lok Sabha on August 6, 2019 expressed the same.
The home minister said this is also good for India's interest, as the region is a border area, the statement said.
He assured the delegation that Jammu and Kashmir will have a better domicile policy than other states in the country and also said that a reasonable economic development policy will be drafted soon after widespread consultation.
Shah said his government is open to suggestions and feedback from all political parties and individuals for overall development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Allaying the apprehensions of the delegation on restrictions, Shah said all decisions on relaxations are based on ground realities and not due to any pressure.
He referred to steps like release of people from detention, restoration of internet, relaxation in curfew and said that "even political prisoners will be freed in times to come as the main objective of the government is that not a single person should die, be it a common Kashmiri or security personnel".
Many political leaders were detained after August 5 last year when the Centre revoked special status of Jammu and Kashmir and Divided it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
He emphasised that there is no discrimination in implementation of central laws in Jammu and Kashmir and interests of all sections will be taken care of.
He said that a land bank had been created in the union territory and the government would soon come out with an industrial policy to ensure rapid economic development.
He expressed hope that in next four years, Jammu and Kashmir will have three times more investments than Rs 13,000 crore that it has received in last 70 years.
There is a huge potential and investors are also willing to come forward. This will also solve the problem of unemployment in the region, he added.
On the issues of reservation, the home minister said that a commission will be set up soon and reiterated that no injustice will be done to Gujjars, nomads and other communities.
On the issues concerning JK Bank, he assured the delegation of personally looking into the issues.
Shah said that he will also ask the Lieutenant Governor to appoint a senior nodal officer to meet the people twice in a week to address their grievances. He also asked the delegation to provide feedback to the nodal officers in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Emerging after the nearly two-hour meeting with the home minister, Altaf Bukhari, a businessman-turned-politician who led the delegation of the party, said the home minister allayed fears of demographic changes in Jammu and Kashmir and also assured of early return of statehood.
The JK Apni Party chief also raised various other issues, including autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, age relaxation of youths from union territory appearing in Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams, relief in horticulture and agriculture, besides the tourism sector.