According to news agency ANI, defense minister Rajnath Singh highlighted terrorism and a lack of social and economic development as the major reasons for the government's decision to make Ladakh a Union territory. “The incidents of terrorism have reduced after the region was made UT. Many steps are being taken by the Centre to bring investment and improve infrastructure here,” the Union minister said, according to ANI.
Earlier in the day, Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Ladakh and is now in Leh, inaugurated 63 infrastructural projects built by the Border Roads Organization (BRO). Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon convene a meeting with Ladakh's political leaders to discuss holding elections in the Union territory, according to the defense minister. “PM Modi wants the political process to begin in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister has already talked to Jammu and Kashmir's political parties.
The defense minister met with 300 veterans in Leh on Sunday, including Ashok Chakra winner Naib Subedar (Honorary) Cheering Mutup (retd) and Maha Vir Chakra winner Colonel Sonam Wangchuk (retd).
Singh praised veterans for their "unparalleled dedication" to ensuring the country's safety and security, saying PM Modi's efforts to implement the "One Rank, One Pension" plan demonstrated the central government's everlasting commitment to the veteran's care and contentment. “Our aim is to take care of you in the same way as you all have taken care of the country,” the minister added during the interaction.
This move follows PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah's recent meeting with Jammu and Kashmir's political parties in New Delhi, which was the first of its kind since Article 370 was repealed. The discussion, which lasted more than three hours, was attended by several prominent politicians, including Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, among others.
“We kept five demands in the meeting – grant statehood soon, conduct Assembly elections to restore democracy, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in J&K, all political detainees should be released and on domicile rules," Azad said after the meeting concluded.
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