NEW DELHI: Several positive changes have taken place in terms of development in Jammu and Kashmir in the last one year which reflect return to "complete normalcy", the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.
The assertion came after the Chairman and Ranking Member of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir one year after Article 370 was abrogated and the state was bifurcated into Union territories.
Asked about the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in the letter, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, "Regarding the specific issue, there have been several positive changes in the UT of J and K over the past one year, be it in terms of ensuring good governance or socio economic development or justice to the disadvantaged sections of the population."
Elections have been held to block development councils in October 2019, the first ever 'Khelo India' winter games were held in March 2020, schools have re-opened, new educational facilities are being established, there are provisions of better healthcare with new health facilities coming up, infrastructure development has taken place and long pending projects have been completed, he said, listing the positive developments in Jammu and Kashmir in the past one year.
"So, all this certainly reflects return to complete normalcy. We continue to be engaged with and brief our interlocutors including the (US) Congress in this regard and we will be happy to brief the (US) Congress," Srivastava said at an online media briefing.
The letter, signed by Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Michael T McCaul, its Ranking Member, said, "As champions of the US-India relationship, we have been delighted to see our countries' close cooperation on issues from defense to climate change."
Srivastava said the letter reflects a strong bipartisan support for India in the US.
Engel further writes, "It is because of our support for the bilateral relationship that we note with concern that conditions in Jammu and Kashmir have not normalised one year after India's repeal of Article 370 and the establishment of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory."
On August 5 last year, the Centre announced its decision to withdraw special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories.
To a question on whether India has briefed friendly countries on Jammu and Kashmir around the first anniversary of the Centre's decision to revoke the special status of the region, Srivastava said Indian envoys in various countries keep meeting their interlocutors and briefing them.
"During their briefings, they brief about the socio-economic changes and the development that has taken place in J&K.
Briefings are given on important steps taken by our government in the sectors of education, health and infrastructure development and in other sectors which have brought about a change in the lives of the common people," he said.
To a separate question on businessman Vijay Mallya's extradition from the UK, Srivastava said the Indian side was in constant touch with the UK side on the issue of his early extradition to india.
India hits out at Turkey
India on Thursday called as factually "incorrect, biased and unwarranted" Turkey's comments that removal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir has not contributed to peace and stability in the region.
Srivastava also asked Turkey to refrain from interfering in internal matters of India.
"The statement is factually incorrect, biased and unwarranted. We would urge the government of Turkey to get a proper understanding of the situation on the ground and refrain from interfering in matters internal to India," he said at an online media briefing.
A Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson on Wednesday said that withdrawal of special powers of Jammu and Kashmir has further complicated the situation and that it has not served peace and stability in the region.
The criticism came on a day marking first anniversary of India's decision on Jammu and Kashmir.
On August 5 last year, India announced its decision to withdraw special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories.