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MoS urges J&K Muslims not be misguided by propaganda against Art 370 nullification

Jammu, Sep 22 (PTI) Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday urged Mulsim community not to be misguided by the propaganda by "vested interests" that they would lose their majority position in Jammu and Kashmir after revocation of its special status.Singh also warned "vested interests" against linking the fallout of nullification of the Article 370 to the religion, saying the Narendra Modi government would not tolerate any mischief and will punish those speaking against the country's interest.Referring to the detention of various leaders of Kashmir after the nullification of Article 370, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office also asserted that the leaders are not under "house arrest" but are "house guests", "enjoying a hospitality" and facility better than what they had in their own homes.He also sought to assure people that in any case the detained leaders would not suffer the same fate of 18-month detention that many prominent BJP leaders had undergone during the Emergency.Singh made the remarks while addressing a BJP's rally organised on the eve of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh's birth anniversary. Maharaja's grandson and senior BJP leader Ajatshatru Singh, however, was conspicuous by his absence at the function which was attended by, amongst others, Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur, BJP national vice president Shyam Jaju and state BJP president Ravinder Raina.Without identifying anyone, Singh said a big propaganda has been launched by some "vested interests" to link the fallout of nullification of the Article 370 to religion."I want to appeal to the Muslim community that attempts are being made to misguide them," he said, in an apparent reference to the apprehensions that Jammu and Kashmir will lose its Muslim-majority character if people from other parts of the country are allowed to settle in the state after revocation of its special status."Whatever has been done is in the interest of the people of the state, irrespective of their religion, caste and creed. The Article 370 was the biggest hurdle in the overall development of the state and was misused by some families," he said. "After October 31 (when Jammu and Kashmir turns into two Union territories), the ordinary people of Kashmir will see the benefits of the abrogation of this article as the entire region will see large-scale developments within next six months," said Singh"The people of the state will soon see the real face of democracy where anyone can aspire to become chief minister or minister. The people will then thank (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (Union Home Minister Amit) Shah for this historic decision," he said. Singh also vehemently sought to cast aside the impression that Kashmir valley has been under the spell of curfew after revocation of state's special status. "There is no restrictions in Kashmir and even no curfew was there for a single day after the abrogation of the Article 370. Only minor restrictions under section 144 CrPC were imposed in a dozen police station areas, out of 200, earlier so that nobody is able to create any trouble," Singh said. In an apparent reference to the slapping of Public Safety Act on former Chief Minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and detention of his son Omar Abdullah and other mainstream leaders in the valley, Singh said he has advised party spokespersons to "be straight forward in talk shows on the issue". "If someone asks when the mainstream leaders are going to be released, tell them in straight forward terms that our prominent leaders like L K Advani and late A B Vajpayee and Arun Jaitley faced 18-month jail terms during the Emergency," said Singh."We will not keep them (leaders from Kashmir) inside for such a long period but will release them much before that," he said.Talking of leaders' detention, Singh said under Union Home Minister Shah, the concept of house arrest have undergone a drastic change. "I have not seen a home minister as soft-hearted as Shah," said Singh. "The meaning of the house arrest changed altogether under Shah's leadership. We have not kept them under detention as they did to our ideologue Syama Prasad Mukherjee who was denied a lawyer and even a doctor after his arrest in Kashmir," said Singh. "We have not behaved like their (NC's) ally Congress which sent Sheikh Abdullah 2,000 kms away in Tamil Nadu and kept him in the prison there," he added. "They (Kashmiri leaders) are either in their own homes or five-star guest houses and enjoying a hospitality which is not available even at their homes. They are being provided brown bread, Hollywood films and gym facility on demand," said Singh."Still there are some who are anxious. I want to tell them that they are not under house arrest but are house guests," he said, adding the problem is that they never faced any struggle or problem in their lives, got everything on their plate and enjoyed the power for three generations. In an apparent reference to Abdullahs, he said they ruled the state despite getting only 10 per cent of votes and made their entry into Parliament."I have proposed to set a minimum cutoff (of votes) for a Parliament member or MLA to gain entry into the House," said Sigh."They have spread a false notion that nobody else can handle Jammu and Kashmir and thus exploited the people for their vested interest," he said. PTI TAS RAXRAX