On a day-long Jammu and Kashmir visit to inaugurate developmental projects, two days after the government announced an unconditional Ramadan ceasefire in the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon all "misguided" youth in Kashmiri to join "mainstream" India for a life with dignity.
Amid a separatist called shutdown and protest march and restrictions by authorities in Srinagar, Modi with a message of development and peace wrapped up in the evening his whirlwind trip that took him to all the three regions — Ladakh, Kashmir Valley and Jammu.
He inaugurated a 330 megawatt Kishenganga power house in Kashmir and a 41.2-km long Ring Road project to decongest Srinagar city, He started work on the Zojila Tunnel to provide an all-weather link to Ladakh and reduce the distance to the cold desert region by three hours from Srinagar.
In Jammu, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stones of the Pakul Dul Power Project and the four-lane 58.2-kilometre-long Jammu Ring Road. He also inaugurated the Tarakote Marg and Material Ropeway of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to facilitate pilgrims visiting the shrine.
Before flying back home, the Prime Minister attended the Convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in the winter capital.
In partially-curfewed Srinagar where schools and colleges were closed for the day, Modi addressed a gathering at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), advising those youth who have lost their path to return to the mainstream.
“The mainstream is their family and parents. The mainstream is their participation in the development of the state. Every stone or weapon picked up by misguided youth injures their own. You will have to come out of this atmosphere. Not only for your future but for the future of Jammu and Kashmir. You will have to join the Indian mainstream.”
Invoking the composite culture of Kashmir, Modi said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee always advocated and supported “Kashmiriyat” and “Modi is also the disciple of the same ‘Kashmiriyat’”.
He said development was the only solution to all problems of the state and hoped that “time will come soon when Jammu and Kashmir will re-emerge as the crown and coronet of peace and progress for the entire country”.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who shared the dais with the Prime Minister, took a dig at Pakistan for not responding positively to India’s “goodwill gesture” of Ramadan ceasefire that was declared on Thursday.
“It takes a large heart and a position of strength to declare the Ramadan ceasefire. You have tried to dress the wounds of our people and I assure you that your positive step will be reciprocated by 10 positive steps by our people,” Mehbooba Mufti said.
She said the Prime Minister had the mandate and the stature to solve all the problems of the people in the state, recalling that remedies were on the agenda of alliance between the PDP and the BJP.
Earlier in Ladakh, Modi spoke at the closing ceremony of centenary birth celebrations of the Buddhist spiritual leader, Kashuk Bakula and asked those in Jammu and Kashmir regions to follow people of the cold desert region who have set an example in human endeavour in their urge for progress.
“Despite hardships and inaccessibility, Ladakhis have set up an example in endeavouring hardships and yet continuing their march of progress and development.”
He said Ladakh today was a far cry from its past when it was known just for three things “totu” (pony) “sottu” (powdered corn) and “patu” (local tweed).
“Your self-confidence has taken Ladakh to great heights from those days of backwardness. The entrepreneurship of the women of Ladakh is an example for the rest of the country.”
In Jammu, Modi said urged agricultural scientists to revisit their strategies that must meet the growing challenges of climate change and paucity of water.
Addressing the 6th convocation of the agricultural university in Jammu, Modi told agricultural scientists and graduating students that “five Ts including training, talent, technology, timely action and trouble free approach” were essential for bringing forward a technological revolution in agriculture.
“Today morning I got the opportunity to visit various parts of the state. From Leh to Srinagar and the Jammu region many developmental programmes were started today.
“It has been my confidence that the state has the potential to reach the greatest heights of government.”
The Prime Minister reminded the people how they have been deceived by forces inimical to peace. The Central government has appointed a special representative to speak to all elected people to find a way out of these difficult times, he said.
“There is only one solution to all problems and that is development. All those countries in the world who followed violence are finding ways and means to shun it and save their people.
“Time will come soon when J&K will re-emerge as the crown and coronet of peace and progress for the entire country.”
Modi said it is the love and affection of the people that brings him here so often.
“The holy month of Ramadan is the time when we re-dedicate ourselves to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. It’s an honour that I am here during the holy month of Ramadan.”
The Prime Minister said everybody associated with the Kishenganga project needs to be complimented because it was a difficult task.
Modi said: “The 42km-long Srinagar Ring Road, whose foundation I have laid today (Saturday), will go a long way in providing connectivity that is vital for progress and development.
“Jammu Kashmir of the 21th century is going to be a model of progress and prosperity. It was said in the past that waters and vitality of mountains does not help the people living in these mountains. But this saying is being proved wrong here as the waters and vitality of your mountains is now being used for your betterment and progress.”
The Prime Minister said tourism has been a part of J&K’s development, but today’s tourism has changed fast. “Today’s tourist wants a better eco-system and cleanliness, and the more you address these issues, the more number of tourists would be coming here.”
Pointing out that connectivity is very essential to improve the eco-system, he said: “Before coming here, I started the work on Asia’s longest tunnel. Whether it is the Srinagar Ring Road or any other connectivity project, the completion of these road projects will save you time and increase your earnings.”
“Better roads will definitely add to the beauty of the state. I am happy that the people of state are helping themselves. I recently saw a video in which a five-year-old girl, Jannat, is shown cleaning the Dal Lake.”
Modi said one lakh local youth are being trained under the “Himayat” programme, adding that around 16,000 youth have been given scholarships to study outside the state.
He said the J&K Police would soon complete the recruitment process of 5,000 youth.
“Security forces have lent a helping hand to mitigate the sufferings of the people during floods and natural calamities.
“Every sacrifice made by our security forces is remembered and respected by every citizen of the country.”
“It is unfortunate that Pakistan has not responded to this goodwill gesture. Had they responded positively then precious lives would not have been lost in yesterday’s firing by Pakistan on the border in Jammu,” the Chief Minister said.
“My father would say even if we build roads of gold in Kashmir, it is all lost once an innocent life is lost here,” she said. (IANS)