Srinagar: In his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Union Territory (UT) will witness a new phase of development in the next 25 years and promised the youth a better future “without the hardships and suffering endured by their parents and grandparents”.
“I promise that Jammu and Kashmir’s youth will not see hardships and sufferings witnessed by their parents and grandparents,” Modi said addressing all Gram Sabhas during a rally at Palli village, in Jammu’s Samba town, to mark the Panchayati Raj Day.
Hailing the “progress” in J&K in the past three years, which has set a “new example” in terms of democracy or development, Modi said, “It is a matter of great pride that democracy has reached the grassroots in Jammu and Kashmir and I am interacting with Panchayats across the country,” he said.
“Projects worth Rs 20,000 crore related to connectivity and electricity have been inaugurated here and foundation stones laid. To give a new impetus to the development of Jammu and Kashmir, work is going on at a fast pace. These efforts will provide employment to a large number of youths of Jammu and Kashmir,” Modi added.
Congratulating Kashmiris, the PM announced that Palli Panchayat is moving towards becoming the “first carbon-neutral Panchayat in the country”. He also pointed out that Valmiki caste has been freed from the “fetters put at their feet in the last seven decades” for the first time. “People who never received the benefits of reservation in Jammu and Kashmir for years will avail them.”
Modi also inaugurated several infrastructure projects, including the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, Banihal-Qazigund Road Tunnel, the Ratle hydroelectric plant and Khwar Dam, which he claimed will drive development in the UT.
Modi’s visit came amid heightened security throughout the region as security forces increased vigil to thwart any attacks. Two days ago, security forces claimed to have foiled a major attack by two Jaish-e-Mohammad members after they were killed in an encounter in Sunjawan area of Jammu—an incident seen as a “security lapse” ahead of Modi’s visit.
The PM’s visit has not generated much excitement seemingly within Kashmir-based political parties. MY Tarigami of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) termed the visit as “disappointing, which didn’t mention pressing issues like the rise of hate crime, the demand for restoration of statehood, and unemployment”.
“Unrest in the country is being promoted by those in authority and the PM should have spoken on the problem. There should have been some message about the targeting of minorities. It was very disappointing,” Tarigami said.