In a bid to reach out to people of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee and announced a Rs. 80,000-crore package saying funds would not be a constraint in building a modern, progressive and prosperous State.
Recalling the words of the former Prime Minister “ Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat aur Insaniyat (Kashmiri culture, democracy, and humanity)”, he said, “I will like to follow these three mantras which are the pillars of development of Kashmir.“
Addressing a public meeting at the heavily-guarded Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium, the Prime Minister did not make any reference to the stalled dialogue process with Pakistan or initiating a talks with separatists as was widely expected by his alliance partner the PDP and rivals.
“I don’t need advice or analysis from anyone in this world on Kashmir. The three mantras of Atal ji... and these will be helpful in moving forward. Kashmiriyat ke bina Hindustan adhura hai . (Without Kashmiriyat, India is incomplete). Sufi tradition has emerged from this land and this tradition has taught us oneness and strength of unity,” he said.
Reacting to his speech, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Mr. Modi invoked Mr. Vajpayee used the Srinagar platform in a difficult situation to reach out to Pakistan and start a dialogue process with the Hurriyat Conference.
“...In front of him (PM), (Chief Minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed talked about starting dialogue. The Prime Minister did not listen to Mufti Sahib . What is Mufti Sahib doing when his words did not stand for few minutes? Where is the agenda of alliance (of the PDP and the BJP)?” the former Chief Minister told reporters.
Ahead of Prime Minister’s speech, the Mufti said “Vajpayee had extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan and we had 10 years of peace. If India has to grow big...India, the elder brother, has to extend a hand of friendship to the younger brother (Pakistan).”
In his second public meeting in Kashmir after becoming the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi announced the package and said that this is not a full stop as “our hearts are also open for you“.
“The Centre announces Rs. 80,000 crore package to the state. It’s my heart-felt desire that this money will be helpful in turning your fate. This money should be used for converting the state into a new Jammu and Kashmir which is modern, prosperous and progressive State.
“This is not a full stop. This Rs. 80,000 crore is not a full stop. It’s rather a beginning... Dilli ka khazana aap ke liye hai, Dilli ka khazana hee nahi, dil bhi aap ke liye hazir hai (The treasury is for you. Not only our treasury, but our heart also beats for you),” said Mr. Modi, who was flanked by Mr. Sayeed, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Jitendra Singh and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
“The dreams of two generations have been lost in last two decades. But I am an optimist and would like to move ahead and covert Jammu and Kashmir into a modern and developed state,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that the youth of the State needed employment and assured the Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government that the Centre was standing rock solid behind it in its endeavour to restore normalcy in the State.
“We may touch any heights in economy and technology. And no matter how much the life changes, we may even build a castle in the air, but it is only our soul that inspires us to respect the dignity of self and others,” he said.
The package of Rs. 80,000 crore includes money for providing relief and rehabilitation of last year flood victims, rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees and Kashmir pandits, roads and highways, health and tourism.
In Jammu, he inaugurated the phase-II of the Baglihar power project at Chanderkote and laid foundation stone of four-laning of Udhampur-Ramban (40 km) and Ramban-Banihal (32 km) sections of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
While inaugurating, he said Mr. Modi said “honourable” rehabilitation of the West Pakistan refugees and Kashmiri pandits who migrated from the Valley is the most important task for his government.
“There are lakhs for refugees since 1947 here... and about 15-20 per cent population of the State is displaced. This is not a small pain but a huge distress. It is high time that the 1947 refugees and displaced Kashmiri Pandits are provided an honourable return to home.
There are nearly 55,000 refugee families who came from West Pakistan in 1947. They have not been given any State subject thereby restricting them from purchasing land and government jobs in the State. However, the NDA government has already made a concession of adjusting youths of these families in central para-military forces.
The number of Kashmiri Pandit families is around 59,000 who had to leave the Valley in 1990 in the wake of militancy.
The Prime Minister said the State had potential for adventure tourism, eco tourism and leisure tourism to attract visitors from across the world.
Mr. Modi said there was no reason that Kashmir cannot emerge from its troubled past as “I believe that crisis, however, deep it might be, can be over come with determination“.
“Kashmir has seen a lot of crisis over the past 20 years. Dreams of two generations have been shattered. I have set out to make Kashmir paradise on earth again, to make it prosperous. I have belief in Mufti Sahib.... I have belief in you. Otherwise, we would not see such an atmosphere (at the rally),” he added.
Rs. 44,800 crore for infrastructure, tourism
Over Rs. 44,800 crore out of the Rs. 80,000-crore package announced by the Prime Minister have been earmarked for improving road infrastructure and promoting tourism in the State.
An amount of Rs. 7,854 crore have been given for flood relief, reconstruction and flood management.
“This includes monetary help to people for reconstruction of damaged houses and for infrastructure; restoration of livelihood for traders and small businessmen; a plan for comprehensive flood management of river Jhelum and its tributaries; and Jhelum—Tawi flood reconstruction project,” an official statement in New Delhi said.
A sum of Rs. 42,611 crore are for road and highway projects which include construction of Zojila tunnel; semi ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar; projects under Bharat Mala for better connectivity; and upgradation of important highway and other projects in the State, it said.
A total of Rs. 2,241 crore are meant for promoting tourism in the State by developing new projects and tourist circuits, and setting up of 50 tourist villages.
In addition, Rs. 11,708 crore are for power, new and renewable energy. This includes augmentation of power infrastructure and distribution systems; solar power; small hydro projects, the statement said.
Rs. 4,900 crore has been earmarked for improving health care facilities in the state which includes creation of two AIIMS-like institutions in both capital cities of the State, and support for creation of infrastructure in hospitals and primary health centres.