Srinagar: Finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley, on a visit to Srinagar for the 14th meeting of the goods and services tax (GST) council, reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and met the top army brass along with army chief Bipin Rawat on Wednesday.
Kashmir has been tense since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in July. His death was followed by a cycle of violence which has been unprecedented in recent years.
“I had a detailed meeting with the chief of army staff and senior officials,” Jaitley told reporters on Thursday after the first day of the meeting of the GST council.
In response to a question about the intent behind holding the GST council in Srinagar, Jaitley said the officials and ministers who have come to the city from every state believe that the situation has improved a lot, unlike what has been portrayed by the electronic media.
The GST council meeting in Srinagar is being viewed as part of a larger strategy to craft a new narrative for the troubled state as the finance ministers and officials of 32 states and Union territories converged in Srinagar.
The meeting provides an opportunity to feature Srinagar and the state of Kashmir in a refreshingly new light in the national media.
GST, among other things, will eliminate tariff barriers between states and economically unify India.
Jaitley said that he shared the impression of state finance ministers that the situation has improved and added, “They will be staying after the meeting as well.”
“The situation is some parts of the state is challenging,” the finance minister added.
Greater Kashmir newspaper reported that a policeman and a civilian were injured in a grenade blast in Safa Kadal area of downtown Srinagar on Thursday.
Jaitley also met Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its alliance partner the Peoples Democratic Party share an uneasy relationship in the backdrop of escalating tension in the state.
The meeting coincides with India on Thursday winning its case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the suspension of the death sentence handed to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court for alleged espionage.
In its verdict, the ICJ ruled “unanimously that Pakistan shall take all measures that Mr. Jadhav is not executed” pending the court’s final verdict on the matter.