Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s vision inspired the Central government’s recent move on Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi observed on Tuesday. Praising the former Home Minister for his role in unifying the country, Mr. Modi said the government’s move was aimed at resolving the decades-old issue having implications on national security.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region had to face discrimination for 70 years due to which India had to face consequences in the form of separatism, violence etc. Taking inspiration from Sardar Patel, the country has now decided to tread on a new path to resolve the decades’ old problems,” he said.
Blaming violence and separatism for lack of development in the insurgency-hit State, he said, “We will make the stream of development flow through Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and Kargil regions by winning the faith of the local people.”
Mr. Modi, who turned 69 on Tuesday and celebrated his birthday in Gujarat, his home State, made the remarks at a rally near the Sardar Sarovar Dam, where he offered prayers. The dam achieved the full reservoir level for the first time, prompting State-wide celebrations.
Lauding Sardar Patel for his role in the annexation of Hyderabad princely State with the Indian Union in 1948, the Prime Minister said September 17 was celebrated as the Hyderabad Liberation Day because of the vision of the late leader.
“Just imagine that had the foresight of Sardar Patel would not have been there and he would not have been given the task of integration, what kind of a map India would have now. Today, India is trying to fulfil his resolution of ‘One India Excellent India’ and complete his uncompleted tasks,” he said, highlighting Sardar Patel’s contribution in integrating the country from more than 500 princely States after Independence.
On August 5 last, in an unprecedented move, the Modi administration abrogated Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the State into Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir with Assembly and Ladakh without Assembly.
Mr. Modi said he was happy to see the rising number of visitors to the Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel, built by the Gujarat government at a cost of Rs. 3000 crore overlooking the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river.
According to him, the 133-year-old Statue of Liberty in the United States got around 10,000 visitors a day, whereas about 8,500 people visited the 11-month-old Statue of Unity daily, making it one of the fastest growing tourist places in the country.
Mr. Modi, who visited a new garden and other amenities being developed around the statue, arrived at Kevadiya in the morning to take part in the 'Namami Narmada' festival being celebrated by the State government to mark the filling up of the dam to its full reservoir level of 138.68 metres due to heavy inflow of waters from the Narmada’s catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh.
After attending the rally in Kevadia, the Prime Minister flew back to Gandhingar where he visited his mother to seek her blessings on his birthday and had a meal with her at his brother’s residence.