Union Home Minister Amit Shah has assured the people of Jammu & Kashmir that “only government land would be used to establish industries, hospitals and educational institutions”. He gave the assurance on September 3 to a delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, comprising sarpanches village heads and members of civil society groups adding that “nobody’s land would be taken away”. The village heads, who were elected last year, demanded security, with some of them from south Kashmir still living in hotels in Srinagar under police protection as they have not been able to go back to their villages. The Home Minister’s interaction with the grassroot leaders was significant .It was he who had piloted the bill in two Houses of Parliament to convert the state into two Union Territories effective from September 30 this year. While J & K will be an UT with legislative assembly, Ladakh will be an UT but minus any legislative assembly. He recalled his commitment in Parliament that J & K will be upgraded to a state after the situation normalizes. It is needless to add that the valley based leaders had been dominating J & K’s politics, administrative as well as economy since the British quit India. As the Election Commission of India awaiting nod from the Ministry of Home Affairs for delimiting the existing constituencies, Amit Shah had interaction with the leaders at the Panchayat level and noted their views. At Srinagar, all the elected Panch and Sarpanch of Jammu & Kashmir, who are serving the rural people risking their lives, called on him .He assured them of ensuring security cover and an insurance coverage of Rs two lakh each. Sarpanch, is the village head, and Panch is a Panchayat member. Amit Shah also committed to the delegation comprising 20 members from Jammu region and Kashmir Valley that at least five youths from each village of Jammu and Kashmir will be given government jobs in the coming months and the demand for increasing the honorarium of the Panch will be considered. Security will be given to those panchayat members whose threat perception is high. Sarpanch, Zuber Nishad Bhat, who is from Harvan in Srinagar district, said the Home Minister also informed them that mobile phone services in the state will be restored in the next 15-20 days. Junaid, a former president of Kashmir University Students’ Union, said the Home Minister told the Panch and Sarpanch that, as promised on the floor of Parliament, the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored when the situation becomes normal. Panchayat elections in the state were held last year after six years. More than 35,096 Panch and Sarpanch were elected to 4,490 panchayats. Junaid said Shah told them that the election to the Block Development Councils will be held in next two months. There are 316 blocks in Jammu and Kashmir. “People are happy due to the abrogation of Article 370 as they were intimidated by Muftis and Abdullah in the past,” he said. Union Minister for PMO Jitendra Singh, who attended the meet, said a new leadership, free from any dynasty, is emerging at the grass root level and they are happy about the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and the central funds will reach them directly now. “The delegation of Panch and Sarpanch has assured full cooperation to MHA in implementing the government development projects and in return the panchayats will get adequate funds under various schemes,” he said. Junaid said Shah informed them that the election to the Block Development Councils will be held in next two months. There are 316 blocks in Jammu & Kashmir. “People are happy due to the abrogation of Article 370 as they were intimidated by Muftis and Abdullah in the past,” he said. Union Minister for PMO Jitendra Singh, who attended the meeting, said a new leadership, free from any dynasty, is emerging at the grass root level and they are happy about the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and the central funds will reach them directly now. “The delegation of Panch and Sarpanch has assured MHA of full cooperation in implementing the government development projects and in return the panchayats will get adequate funds under various schemes,” he said. Singh, who is an MP from Unhamper, said at least five jobs will be given to youths from each village on basis of merit and they were assured that their concerns will be addressed. The minister said the home minister has assured the delegation that the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir will be restored gradually with the improvement of the ground situation.Nazir Ahmed, a Sarpanch from Ganderbal district, said there is complete normalcy in rural areas. Manoj Pandita, a Sarpanch from Pulwama, said the Home Minister told them that they should visit each village and each household and convey the benefits of removing Article 370.Ali Mohammad, a Sarpanch from Srinagar district, said they were keen to carry forward development work but needed uninterrupted funds. Similar sentiment was expressed by Bobita Bhat, a Sarpanch from Pulwama.Neelam Kaul, a Sarpanch of Kulgam, said she has urged the home minister to increase the honorarium of Rs 2,500 given to each Panch and Sarpanch and the home minister assured that he would consider it. The meeting with the Home Minister lasted about 40 minutes. Most of the sarpanches spoke about micro issues, no one raised the issue of clampdown. The Home Minister told the sarpanches that he will make Kashmir a place where they don’t need security at all,” one member of the delegation told waiting reporters.