NEW DELHI: The Union government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed an unprecedented era of peace, progress and prosperity as incidents of organised stone pelting have been reduced from 1767 in 2018 to zero in 2023 following its historic step of withdrawal of the special status to the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019.
The Centre, through the Ministry of Home Affairs filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court a day before hearing before the Constitution bench on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of 2019 decision.
"Life has returned to normalcy in J&K after three decades of turmoil. Schools, colleges and universities are functioning without any strikes during the last three years. The earlier practice of strikes and bandhs is a thing of the past. Participation in sporting activities is phenomenal having reached 60 lakhs in 2022-23. These facts clearly prove the positive impact of the constitutional changes effected in 2019," it said.
The Centre also cited the hosting of G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting at Srinagar in the month of May, 2023, saying it was a "watershed event" in the history of valley tourism and the country proudly displayed its resolute commitment to the world that secessionist or terrorist region can be converted into a region where even international dignitaries can be invited and global events can be held.
The Union government also said that a new Central Sector Scheme has been notified in February 2021 for the industrial development with an outlay of Rs 28,400 Cr to boost the industrial development.
"Investment proposals worth Rs 78000 Cr have been already received online by the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. During 2022-23, a record investment of Rs 2153 Cr has materialised on ground. Usually, the gestation period for establishment of industries varies from 2-5 years and it is expected that after these investments materialised, the overall development scenario of J&K will witness a phenomenal change. All the investments are coming due to and after effects of the decision dated 5th/6th August, 2019," it asserted.
The lack of stability and lack of applicability of central laws also inevitably resulted in deprivation in common people. Such deprivation also compounded the situation allowing people to be misguided and misused by various secessionist and terrorist forces for anti-India activities - from stone pelting to other activities, it added.
"Prior to August 05, 2019 due to non-application of the entire Constitution and consequently non applicability of several beneficial central legislations, there were obvious constraints which resulted in alienation of the region on daily basis. This alienation was fueled by the secessionist forces and terrorist who were having the cross border support both financial and otherwise," it said.
The government also highlighted organised stone pelting incidences connected with terrorism-separatist agenda, which were as high as 1767 in 2018 has come down to zero in the year 2023 till date.
In the affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted that the street violence, engineered and orchestrated by terrorists and secessionist networks has now become a thing of the past.
“In the year 2018, there were 52 incidences of organized Bandh/ Hartal, which has come down to zero in the year 2023 till date. In addition, resolute anti-terror actions have resulted in dismantling of the terror eco-system which is reflected in a significant drop in terrorist recruitment from 199 in the year 2018 to 12 in the year 2023 till date," the affidavit stated.
The central government also said it has adopted a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and after constitutional changes, the security situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly.
It said terrorist-initiated instances have brought down by 45.2 % – from 228 in 2018 to 125 in 2022 – and net infiltration has reduced by 90.2 %, and also law and order events have come down significantly by 97. 2 %– 1767 in 2018 to 50 in 2022, and also security forces casualties have come down from 91 in 2018 to 31 in 2022.
After the historic changes, the region has witnessed “profound ameliorative, affirmative, and progressive changes in the last four years encompassing its entire governance – including the developmental activities, public administration, and security matters," it said.
On the development front, the Centre said out of the 53 projects, worth Rs 58,477 Crore, under Prime Minister's Development Package (PMDP), 32 projects have been completed and others are going on at a fast pace.
Concerning the earlier languishing projects, 1500 projects worth Rs 2500 Crore have also been completed including 05 projects which were incomplete for more than 20 years, 15 projects for more than 15 years and 165 projects for more than 10 years.
The annual budget of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed significant growth from Rs 80423 Cr in 2019-20 to Rs.118500 Cr in the year 2023-24 providing sufficient financial resources for the development of the region.
Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, 2,961 road projects, covering 17798 Kms and connecting 2096 habitations, have been completed and J&K has been ranked No. 3 and its performance in the sector is amongst the best in the country, it said.
19,096 Kms roads have been black-topped during the last 4 years which compared to the average macadamization of 2000 Kms road per year is a huge change. Daily average rate of macadamization has increased from 8.57 Kms per day till 2019 to 15.75 Kms per day during 2023. 302 bridges have been constructed during the last 04 years connecting the unconnected habitations. In addition, 874 road projects worth Rs 3637 Crore have been sanctioned under NABARD. The connectivity to the valley has been subsequently improved by opening of 06 road tunnels on NH-44 including 8.45 Kms twin tube tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal, thereby, reducing average time from Jammu to Srinagar from 8-10 hours to 5-6 hours, thereby, also reducing logistic cost of goods and services to the valley, it said.