INDORE: Stating that curfews and restrictions have been lifted from many places in Jammu and Kashmir since abrogation of the special status, Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said the festival of Eid al-Adha was celebrated with "great enthusiasm" in the border state.
The BJP leader also dismissed "rumours" about the death of a few people in a firing incident in the northern state, whose special status granted under Article 370 of the Constitution has been scrapped.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister said peace has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir as "restrictions and curfews were lifted from most parts" of the border state which has now been given the status of a Union Territory.
"Peace is prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir and life is returning to normalcy there. People celebrated Eid al-Adha with great enthusiasm," Javadekar said while addressing a press conference at the Indore BJP office.
In a historic decision, the Centre on August 5 revoked the special status enjoyed by the northern state under Article 370. Subsequently, Parliament also passed a bill to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
"Rumours were spread about the death of some people in a firing incident in Jammu and Kashmir. But, such reports are absolutely false. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Jammu and Kashmir administration have clarified that there was one or two small protests in the state.
"Life is normal and peaceful there and curfews and restrictions at almost all places have been lifted," he said.
On the Congress' allegation that Kashmiris have been facing hardships due to imposition of restrictions by the Centre, the minister said, "The operation to eliminate the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in J&K has been going on.
"There used to be round-the-year curfew under the rule of the Congress and the National Conference. For the time being, curfew was clamped in some places that too for a few days whereas the situation is normal at other places".
Javadekar said Article 370 had provided Pakistan a weapon to carry out its separatist propaganda and to promote terrorism.
"We took this decision (to scrap provisions of Article 370) to give justice and basic rights to the common citizens of J&K. Our decision has also met moral and legal criteria," the senior BJP leader said.
Javadekar claimed the residents of the Kashmir Valley are "welcoming" the Centre's move on Article 370, besides people from Jammu and Ladakh regions.
Asked about Pakistani forces not exchanging sweets with their Indian counterparts at the International Border on the occasion of Eid, Javadekar said the development showed "shallowness" of the neighbouring country.
He also said Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is an integral part of India.
"In the year 1994, our Parliament had passed a resolution that efforts will be made to merge PoK with India," he added.
Javadekar said the Congress was a "divided house" on the issue of Article 370 in view of some prominent party leaders supporting the Centre's move to scrap J&K's special status.
He took potshots at India's oldest party over its dynastic politics in view of appointment of Sonia Gandhi as the interim president of the party.
Gandhi had helmed the Congress for nearly 19 years before she was brought back to lead the party again though in an interim capacity.
"In the last 75 days, the BJP-led central government had taken more than 75 decisions in public interest and to expedite the pace of development.
"On the other hand, the Congress appointed another person from the Gandhi family as the party president after the dilemma that lasted for 75 days.
"This happened despite the pledge (by Rahul Gandhi) that no Gandhi would be appointed as the Congress chief," the minister added.
Replying to a query on construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said, "A temple in Ayodhya (at disputed site) already exists.
It is to be given a grand shape. The case is being heard on a daily basis in the Supreme Court. We hope that a grand Ram temple will be built there."
Meanwhile, Javadekar also slammed senior Congress leader P Chidambaram for his comment that the Union government had revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status because it is a Muslim-dominated state and had not done so if Hindus were in a majority there.
The former finance minister had made this comment at a public event in Chennai on Sunday.