Kashmiris attached to me: Modi

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

Naya Kashmir has sparkle for future, says PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the 'Viksit Bharat, Viksit Jammu & Kashmir' programme, in Srinagar, Thursday, March 7, 2024. (PTI)

Srinagar: On his maiden visit to the scenic Kashmir Valley after the abrogation of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday found its people emotionally attached to him and the region, the country’s crown whose natural wonders are the nation’s heart and soul which, he asserted, unite and inspire countrymen.

“It is a new Jammu and Kashmir for which we all were waiting for decades and for which Syama Prasad Mookerjee had sacrificed his life”, he said, speaking at a mammoth rally held at Srinagar’s Bakshi Stadium.

He said the abrogation of Article 370 had “brightened the hearts of the people” of the erstwhile state “with the light of a better future”, and given them enough strength to face the challenges. “This Naya Kashmir has sparkle for the future in its eyes and the determination to clear all obstacles. Also, 140 crore citizens of the country feel at peace when they see the smiling faces of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”, he said.

He promised the Kashmiris who had turned up in “such huge numbers to listen to me” that their love and veneration will be reciprocated in kind and their dreams, suppressed and ignored for decades, will be translated into reality by his government. “Modi will not leave any stone unturned to repay this debt of affection. I am doing all this hard work to win your hearts and I believe that I am on the right path,” he said.

He said: “Kashmir is ‘Paradise on Earth’ and the golden crown of India. Its beautiful mountains and aura are really touching. I can’t explain in words my feelings after landing here,” he said. He added: “I have been coming here for the last many decades and my mission has been to win the hearts of the Kashmiri people. Today, after seeing you here in such large numbers, and about one lakh more watching and hearing me virtually from different centres set up across Jammu and Kashmir, I can say that I have succeeded in winning the Kashmiri hearts.”

He said that J&K was not just a place, it was the head of India and a head held high is a symbol of development and respect. “Therefore, Viksit Jammu and Kashmir is the priority of Viksit Bharat”, he added. He reiterated that J&K is touching new heights of development because it is breathing freely today and this freedom from restrictions came after the abrogation of Article 370.
The Prime Minister assured the people of J&K that the region will see more progress in the next five years. He reiterated that Article 370 was the biggest hurdle in the development of J&K but the BJP government, by removing it, had paved the way for the erstwhile state touching the new heights of growth and development and becoming a ‘viksit’ (developed) region. He said: “In the future, the success story of Jammu and Kashmir will be the centre of attraction for the world”, and that this was “Modi’s guarantee”.

He said that for decades the Congress and its allies misled the people of J&K and the rest of the country in the name of Article 370. He also said the era of family rule, corruption and nepotism in J&K was over.

The Prime Minister launched and dedicated to the nation multiple projects worth Rs 6,400 crores, including those being executed under the “Holistic Agriculture Development Programme” (HADP) and those related to the tourism sector under Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD scheme, including the project for integrated development of Srinagar’s revered lakeside Hazratbal shrine. He also interacted with the beneficiaries of government schemes and entrepreneurship programmes and gave them suggestions on how to enhance their businesses.

Extraordinary security arrangements had been made to ensure no untoward incident occurs in Srinagar or elsewhere in the Valley during the PM’s visit. The Opposition parties alleged that the J&K administration mobilised its employees and applied coercive measures to increase the headcount at the PM’s rally. The BJP rejected it as the “frustration” of the Opposition leaders, particularly former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who had said earlier: “The dictatorial J&K govt has pulled out all stops to give the PM a crowd because the BJP can’t manage anything in J&K without the administration”. Mr Modi said there was a time when laws implemented in the country could not be extended to J&K and likewise the schemes for welfare of the poor could not be implemented in the erstwhile state.

He said: “There was a time when people questioned who would visit Jammu and Kashmir for tourism. Today, Jammu and Kashmir is breaking all tourism records. In 2023 alone, Jammu and Kashmir welcomed over 2 crore tourists, surpassing previous records”. He added: “Over the past 10 years, the Amarnath shrine has witnessed the highest number of pilgrims participating in the annual yatra, and the Vaishno Devi shrine also recorded a significant increase in devotee footfall, while foreign tourist arrivals are on the increase and there is growing attraction for celebrities and international guests.”

The Prime Minister said that the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan was beginning soon and he would like to send his best wishes to the entire nation from the soil of Kashmir. “It is my wish that everyone should get the message of peace and harmony from the month of Ramzan. Tomorrow is Mahashivratri, I wish everyone the best of this holy festival too”, he said.