Home Minister Shah interacts with J-K BJP leaders during Srinagar visit

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Srinagar, May 16 (PTI) Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday interacted with several delegations, including BJP leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, on the first day of his two-day visit here.

Shah, who arrived this evening, is also likely to hold a security review meeting on Friday morning.

A Pahari delegation led by Mohammad Younis Khan met the minister and thanked him for granting Scheduled Tribe status to the community.

"We have come to meet the home minister to express our gratitude because after 50 years of struggle, we have finally obtained Scheduled Tribe status. They have fulfilled our demand, unlike other parties who only seek votes but never fulfill their promises. We will remain faithful to them as they fulfilled our demand," Khan told reporters before the delegation's meeting with Shah.

A delegation of local Sikhs also met Shah and it said it raised the demand of inclusion of the Punjabi language in syllabus of universities and reservation of seats in the assembly for the community as granted to Kashmiri Pandits.

Among the BJP leaders who met Shah were Darakhshan Andrabi, Sunil Sharma, Tarun Chugh and R S Pathania.

Though the schedule finalised for Shah's visit is limited to meeting only BJP leaders, sources said leaders of "local allies" of the party may also meet him.

Earlier in the day, Sharma, the general secretary of the BJP's Jammu and Kashmir unit, said the home minister's visit to Kashmir is not political.

"The Union minister is coming to Kashmir today, but the visit is not political. The (general) elections are underway. The voter turnout (for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat) on May 13 is a huge success of the policies of the central government including the abrogation of Article 370.

"I think the home minister is coming here to review the measures from the security point of view to increase the turnout and create an atmosphere of peace. There is no political activity, but the BJP workers will meet him and discuss the party's organisational matters," Sharma said.

Asked whether a Jamaat-e-Islami delegation will meet Shah, he said no such delegation is scheduled to meet the home minister.

Any non-political or senior people can meet Shah but no political delegation is meeting him, Sharma said.

Shah is likely to be briefed about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir by the top security brass as the Lok Sabha elections will be followed by the annual Amarnath Yatra, which is scheduled to start on June 29 and conclude on August 19.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir might witness assembly elections after the yatra as the Supreme Court has given a deadline of September 30 to the Centre for holding these polls. PTI MIJ -- ANB ANB

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