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'They'll Win More Votes the Longer They Stay Inside': J&K Governor Sees 'Silver Lining' in Arrest of Leaders

File photo of Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik.

File photo of Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti have been in police custody for over a month now as a 'precautionary measure'.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik sought to see the silver lining in the arrest of the state’s politicians, saying the longer they stay behind bars, the more political dividends they will accrue.

Malik, who was addressing his first press conference after the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and divide it into two union territories, said: "Don't you want that people should become leaders. I have gone to jail 30 times. Those who will go to jail, will become leaders. Let them be there. The more they spend time in the jail, the more they will claim during elections...that I have spent six months behind bars...

"So if you sympathise with them, do not be sad over detention. And they all are in their homes. I was jailed in Fatehgarh (Uttar Pradesh) during the Emergency where it used to take two days to reach. If someone is detained in any issue, if he is wise, he will take political benefit. I am wishing them well.”

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti have been in police custody for over a month now as a “precautionary measure”.

Malik also assured the people of the state that their identity and culture would be preserved and justified the imposition of severe restrictions after the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370, saying it was done to prevent any loss of life.

The governor announced that over 50,000 vacant government posts will be filled up in the next three months, making it the biggest such drive in the state.

Flanked by Advisor K Vijay Kumar, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh, Malik, who will be the last governor of the state before it is split into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — on October 31, also indicated that internet services will continue to remain suspended for some more time as it was "more used by terrorists and Pakistanis" than the people of the state.

"The medium of Internet is little bit useful for us but more useful for terrorists, Pakistanis. It is also used to mobilise and for indoctrination," Malik said. "We will probably be opening Internet a little late which people will have to bear because that is the most dangerous instrument. Entire lie is spread using that medium," Malik said.

"We will not let any pressure come on them from outside, and we will preserve and protect them (people of the state). This is a solemn assurance also from our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and we will restore normalcy in this region. We will deepen democracy and make it vibrant and truly representative," he said.

The governor had made this assurance during his August 15 speech as well. Without giving any details, Malik also said the Centre was likely to make "big" announcement soon. Justifying the restrictions imposed in the state after abrogation of Article 370, the governor said the measures have been taken to prevent any loss of lives.

"It was necessary for the government to impose restrictions primarily to ensure that militants and terrorists are handicapped in their movements and don't succeed to create fear and terror," he said and thanked people for being patient and cooperative.

"The results of these restrictions are there for you to see. Not a single person has died so far in police action in the state. In the 2008 agitation, over 50 people died. In the 2010 agitation, over 100 people had died and in 2016 agitation, over 80 people had died.

"Every life is precious. Is this not a singular achievement? It's a result of the government's efforts to maintain peace and all have worked day and night to ensure that normalcy is gradually restored without causing harm to individuals," he said, adding the administration is conscious of difficulties faced by the people.

"Now a lot of relaxations have been gradually made, step by step, and more will happen. As of now, 81 out of 111 police stations in Kashmir have day-time relaxations (on the movement of people). A few more areas will open up in a few days. Only few hard core trouble spots will remain closed longer," he said.

The governor admitted use of pellet guns by security personnel during protests in the Kashmir Valley but said the forces took utmost precaution to prevent injuries. He also claimed that schools were being gradually reopened, but there was no reply to reporters' queries about thin attendance.

He also announced that his administration has identified 50,000 vacancies in the government. "They are at multiple levels. We will fill these 50,000 vacancies in the next few months. This will generate employment for our youth

"I urge our youth to come forward actively in this recruitment process. This will the largest single recruitment drive ever in Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh," he said.

To a question on how does the government plan to make youths fill up job application when the Internet is down, Malik said, "We will go to their homes and get them filled up. Don't worry about that."