The Narendra Modi government has planned a mega outreach programme in Jammu and Kashmir, sending 36 top BJP leaders and Union ministers nearly 5 months after ending the special status of the state granted under Article 370 and bifurcating it into two union territories.
The list, which is in possession of NDTV, shows there will be 51 trips planned for Jammu, and only 8 to Srinagar. The Kashmir Valley has been under a series of restrictions since the government's announcement in August, which includes detention of its political leaders and internet blackout that's being removed in phases.
This list of leaders who would visit the state between January 18 and January 23 includes several Union ministers.
Among others, Purshottam Singh Rupala, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Gen VK Singh, Smriti Irani, G Kishen Reddy, Gajender Singh Shekhawat, Anurag Thakur, Jitender Singh, Hardeep Puri, Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Kiren Rijiju are on the list.
"One must not be surprised at such an outreach. After all, when we do not meet people, there is criticism that we are isolating Jammu and Kashmir. And when we do, then also eyebrows are raised. It is a way of the Modi government to reach out and hear the concerns and problems of the people," a senior BJP leader said.
Sources have told NDTV that the strategy is two-fold. Amid international and domestic criticism over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA, the BJP wants to send its version on the legislation to "stop propaganda".
"There have been efforts by Pakistan to internationalise the Article 370 issue by Pakistan," a source said.
"That country has also tried to spread propaganda after the spate of CAA protests. It is thus important to reach out to the people and give them the right picture," the source said.
The ministers are also expected to reach out to people and their representatives to apprise them of the progress so far and the action plan of the government for Jammu and Kashmir here on.