"This significant day is definitely pushing Jammu and Kashmir to a new direction---of progress and development," Mr. Modi said.

With parts of the summer capital under curfew, separatist leaders under house arrest, a separatists-sponsored shutdown as usual greeting the Prime Minister in valley and a massive security bandobust in place, Narendra Modi on Friday arrived here on his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

After inaugurating the railway station at Katra and flagging off a train linking the country to the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage in Jammu’s Trikuta Hills, Mr Modi addressed a public meeting. He said that on March 26 he had started his Bharat Vijay election campaign from Katra. “Today, I am also starting my developmental campaign (for the country) with Mata Vaishno Devi’s blessings from the same place. This is a significant development and an important day as it will usher in a new revolution of development for Jammu and Kashmir and whole of India,” Mr. Modi said.

The Prime Minister would also inaugurate a 240 mw power plant built by National Hydroelectric Corporation of India [NHPC] in Uri area of Kashmir today. The two projects would benefit the State enormously, Mr. Modi said.

He said that he had already shared his idea of turning Katra into a fully solar city and his government had started an ambitious plan of solar energy for the holy town. He also revealed his plan of connecting all the Himalayan States, which are dotted with spiritual centers, with a major developmental initiative that would benefit all these northern States.

“This significant day is definitely pushing Jammu and Kashmir to a new direction---of progress and development,” Mr. Modi said.

While announcing extension of Jammu and Udhampur-bound train services to Katra, Mr. Modi proposed that the new service should be named Shreeshakti Express. He termed it as a boon for Mata’s devotees and tourists who aspired to visit J&K.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who, along with Governor Narendra Nath Vohra and Minister of Higher Education Akbar Lone, received Mr Modi earlier at Jammu’s airport and is accompanying the Prime Minister, also addressed the gathering.

Congress Ministers absent

Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and other Ministers of Congress Party were conspicuously absent at the reception. A five-member BJP team led by Ashok Khajuria, the BJP legislature party head in Assembly, and the Lok Sabha member from Jammu Jugal Kishore, greeted Mr. Modi.

On his arrival at Badami Bagh cantonment---headquarters of Army’s 15 Corps in Srinagar---Mr. Modi went for an inspection of the war memorial and interacted with the soldiers and officers drawn from different field units. Sources told The Hindu that Vice Chief of Army and other senior officials, including GOC-in-C of Northern Command and four Corps Commanders would brief the Prime Minister on the State’s security situation. National Security Advisor Ajeet Doval is also in the Prime Minister’s entourage.

Mr. Modi would attend Governor Vohra’s lunch and a meeting at Raj Bhavan before taking off for the inauguration of a power project in Uri. Officials said he would drive a distance of 11 km on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway. He would also assess Jammu and Kashmir State’s power energy requirement and generation capacity with the NHPC Chairman in New Delhi in the evening.

Shutdown and curfew

Due to a call from almost all the separatist groups, passenger transport was off the road. Shops were reportedly shut in most of the towns. However, the impact was partial in many towns, including parts of Srinagar. Senior separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah were placed under “house arrest” on Thursday.

Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar Farooq Shah said that curfew had been imposed in the areas under Khanyar, Nowhatta, Maharaj Gunj, Safakadal and Rainawari Police Stations. He said that there was no restriction on the movement in other areas including the Civil Lines, Gupkar Road and Boulevard which remained out-of-bounds on Prime Minister’s visit in the past.