Children going to schools and colleges had a complete academic session that was not interrupted either by any officially announced restriction nor by any separatist called shutdown…writes Sheikh Qayoom
An unprecedented number of tourist arrivals during the season, a peaceful, incident-free Amarnath Yatra, no major incident of infiltration or exfiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) and no major incident of violence during the year.
2022 has passed by in Jammu and Kashmir leaving behind much for the Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha-led administration to celebrate.
The UT recorded 1.62 crore tourist arrivals during 2022, which is the highest during the last 75 years. And, this is besides over one crore pilgrims who visited the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine during the year.
For the first time after 2019 when Article 370 was abrogated, hoteliers, transporters, houseboat and Shikara owners, handicraft artisans and thousands of others connected with tourism had good income to support their families.
No tourist was attacked or harmed during the year by the militants.
The annual Amarnath Yatra 2022 to the Himalayan cave shrine in south Kashmir Anantnag district ended peacefully with over 1.65 lakh Yatris performing the pilgrimage.
The Yatra was conducted peacefully and the security arrangements were adequate. No militancy related incident took place during the Yatra this year.
On the ground security situation, there was no major incident of infiltration or exfiltration across the LoC during the year as the army and the Border security force (BSF) maintaining vigil along the LoC and the international border maintained high level of alertness during the year.
In the hinterland, there was no major incident of violence during the year and there was no separatist called protest or shutdown that interfered with normal life that went about peacefully throughout the year.
Children going to schools and colleges had a complete academic session that was not interrupted either by any officially announced restriction nor by any separatist called shutdown.
During his visit to J&K in 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that in addition to the SCs and the STs, members of the Pahari community would also get reservations in the UT. This would be a major step towards empowerment of the members of the Pahari community who have been demanding reservation for long.
These are the bouquets of 2022 for the J&K administration. Now the brickbats.
The selected targeting of non-locals and local Kashmiri Pandits by the terrorists continued in the Valley in 2022.
As many as 14 people belonging to the minorities, including three Kashmiri Pandits, were killed by terrorists in Kashmir during 2022.
In addition to this, five non-local Muslims were also killed by the terrorists during the year.
The non-locals killed were mostly skilled and semi-skilled labourers and street vendors who had come here to earn an honest living for their families.
Kashmiri Pandits killed during the year included government employees who were recruited under the Prime Minister’s package.
Despite the mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Valley in early 1990s, official figures indicate that over 6,500 members of this community still live in the Valley at different places.
The failure of the administration to protect the members of the local Pandit community and other Hindus serving in the Valley led to protests by these employees to be relocated to safer places outside the Valley.
Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha has asserted that all such government employees have been shifted to safer locations at the district headquarters in the Valley.
The administration has, however, refused to post these employees in the Jammu division.
The other failure on the security side in 2022 has been the continuing dropping of weapons and narcotics by Pakistan backed terrorists along the international border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts by using drones.
These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have also been used to attack defence installations during the year that went by.
Security forces have been claiming to shoot these drones operated from Pakistan, but the threat posed by the UAVs to the security along the border and the hinterland has continued in 2022.
J&K has remained under the central rule since 2019 and the much awaited Assembly elections to give the UT an elected government were not held in 2022.
Voices for holding the Assembly elections in the UT have become stronger during 2022 and there are official indications that these elections could be held in April-May 2023.
All political parties have been asking their cadres to be ready to participate in the forthcoming Assembly elections that would give J&K its first elected government since it lost its statehood and special status on August 5, 2019.