Jammu and Kashmir: PM Modi’s Visit


Jammu and Kashmir: PM Modi’s Visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Srinagar Thursday for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.


Abrogation of Article 370 has helped

Claiming that the people of Kashmir were now “breathing free” thanks to the abrogation of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to “keep winning the hearts of Kashmiris”.

Addressing a  packed Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar Thursday, PM Modi targeted the Congress and its allies —without naming the National Conference (NC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — over Article 370.  

“Kashmir is touching new heights of progress and prosperity after the abrogation of Article 370. Locals are able to breathe free. This azadi [freedom] has come after Article 370’s removal. For decades, the Congress and its allies misled the people of J&K as well as the country about Article 370,” the Prime Minister said.

Stating that Article 370 had only benefited a few politicians and their families, he said, “Kashmir bore the brunt of dynasty politics since Independence. People now know the truth and cannot be fooled anymore. Kashmiris see a new bright beginning in front of them, with equal opportunity. They have equal dignity and rights. Locals benefit from all the laws and pro-poor schemes started by the Centre simultaneously, unlike in the past.”

‘A new Kashmir’: “This is the new Kashmir we all were awaiting for decades…..Your smiling faces are watched in the country right now and will bring satisfaction to all the countrymen,” He told the crowd, claiming that over one lakh people were attending the event.

The Prime Minister said that he considers Kashmir as his ‘parivaar’, or family.


Boosting tourism

PM Modi  announced a ₹1,400 crore impetus for the tourism sector under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive schemes, as well as the Hazratbal Shrine project. He also distributed around 1,000 new employment letters to local residents.

He launched the ‘Chalo India Global Diaspora Campaign’ during the event. “Whether overseas Indians get dollars or pounds does not matter, but they should motivate five people to visit India. This scheme will impact Kashmir’s tourism too. I also urge visitors to buy local and spend a 5% to 10% travel budget to boost the local economy, which could open new opportunities of employment here,” PM Modi said, also urging Indians to be part of the ‘Wed in Kashmir’ campaign.

The Prime Minister praised the government’s efforts and pledges that resulted in a successful G-20 meeting in Srinagar last year and a record tourist footfall.  “Over two crore people visited J&K in 2023, which is a record….”


Welfare schemes

The Prime Minister announced ₹5,000 crore worth of schemes for the farming sector and promised to increase cold storages and warehouses in the Union Territory. “Kashmir is progressing at a fast pace. There are two AIIMS, seven medical colleges, and two cancer hospitals now. Two Vande Bharat trains ply in Kashmir. Jammu and Srinagar are becoming smart cities and new projects are in the offing,” he said.

Kashmir, he said  is now emerging as a winter sports capital. “Around 1,000 athletes from the country participated in the Khelo India Winter Games. There are multi-purpose indoor halls in 17 districts in J&K.”


Terror threat diminished

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, writes The Tribune  “has reached out to the valley residents with the slogan ‘Viksit Bharat Viksit Jammu Kashmir’ (developed India, developed Kashmir). His message is clear: the state-turned-UT’s development will go hand in hand with that of the country…..

“It goes to the credit of the Union Government and the security forces that the count of terror-related incidents has come down significantly in recent years. The annual death toll — both of civilians and security personnel — has also been waning. No major terror strike has taken place in Kashmir after the Pulwama attack of February 2019. The government has been prioritising development and employment in a bid to keep the youth off the perilous path of violence and extremism.”


Challenges: restoring J&K’s statehood

Amid all these confidence-building measures, there are “two major challenges for the Centre: restoring J&K’s statehood and holding the Assembly elections. An inordinate delay in undertaking these all-important exercises is sending out the message that all is not well on the ground. This runs contrary to the government’s claim that everything is hunky-dory in J&K. The resumption of the electoral process is the need of the hour to regain the trust of political parties and voters. Allowing democracy to wither is a recipe for disaster in a region highly vulnerable to cross-border terrorism. The simmering discontent over perceived disempowerment following the revocation of the special status as well as statehood must be addressed with timely remedial steps.”

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