Indian PM announces $12b special package to Jammu & Kashmir

(From PTI)

Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s mantra for development, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Saturday (Nov. 7) a package of Rs 800,000 million ($12,108 million) for Jammu and Kashmir and pledged to transform it into a progressive and prosperous state.


Modi has pledged to transform Jammu & Kashmir into a progressive and prosperous state

Recalling the words of the former Prime Minister Vajpayee — ‘Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat aur Insaniyat’ (social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people, democracy, and humanity), he said: “I will like to follow these three mantras which are the pillars of development of Kashmir”.

“I don’t need advice or analysis from anyone in this world on Kashmir. The three mantras of Atal jee 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.

In his second public rally in Kashmir after becoming the Prime Minister, Modi announced the package and said this is not a full stop as “our hearts are also open for you”.

“The Centre announces Rs 800,000 million 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 Modi, who was flanked by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Jitendra Singh and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti.

“The dreams of two generations have been lost in the 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 addressing the rally at Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium.

The Prime Minister said that the youth of the state needed employment and assured the Mufti Sayeed-led PDP-BJP alliance that the Centre was standing rock solid behind it in its endeavor 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.

Modi said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have shown their faith in democracy (Jamhooriya).

“There was massive participation in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Today Mufti Sahib is talking about empowering panchayats. This is the democracy that Atalji wanted and dreamt of. I salute you,” he added.

The Prime Minister said India is incomplete without Kashmiriyat which is the “shaan, baan, aan” (pride and glory) of India.

He said he has a development sketch in his mind for Jammu and Kashmir based on the interactions with the leaders of the state including the Chief Minister and his deputy Nirmal Singh.

“The development process has to be implemented within a set timeframe. We want to help the farmers, the traders and people whose houses were damaged by the floods last year. We want to bring out every family from their problems. Delhi (the Centre) will work shoulder to shoulder with the state government in this regard,” he said.

Modi said unemployment was the biggest challenge facing the state and a solution to this problem will resolve every other problem in the state.

He said the focus of the government is on reviving tourism and promoting handicrafts and other cash crops like apple and saffron of the state.

“More than 1.75 crore Indians travel abroad for tourism. Can we make efforts to get only 5 per cent of this number to Kashmir, which will change the tourism scenario and bring back the old days of peace and tranquility,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the state had potential for adventure tourism, eco tourism and leisure tourism to attract visitors from across the world.

Giving an example of harnessing the local expertise, Modi said cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Dhoni might have hit many sixes but the bats they used were made from the willow of Kashmir.

“This is strength which we need to harness. We want a development model which provides livelihood opportunities to the youth,” he said.

Modi also laid emphasis on use of information and digital technology for improving the lot of the people.

“We have to explore how to use the I-way, the information way, and digital network to connect the people of Kashmir. As part of skill development, we have to look at how to improve the quality of handicrafts and their designs too, besides finding global markets for these products,” he added.

‘PM weighs Kashmir issue in rupees’

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has weighed the Kashmir issue in “rupees and paise”.

Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister tweeted after Modi announced an economic package of Rs.800,000 million for the state: “PM has made the same mistake of weighing the Kashmir issue in rupees and paise.”

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