Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce a relief and rehabilitation package for flood-hit victims of the Kashmir floods during his one-day visit to Srinagar on Thursday.
Modi had tweeted his plan saying, “Will be in Srinagar on Diwali October 23 and will spend the day with our sisters and brothers affected by the unfortunate flood.”
After arriving in Srinagar a little after noon, Modi is likely to meet with the governor and the state chief minister Omar Abdullah in the Raj Bhawan. Abdullah had on a recent trip to Delhi, met the prime minister and submitted a memorandum to the Centre seeking a Rs 44,000 crore package.
In keeping with his promise of spending time with ‘sisters and brothers affected by the unfortunate flood,’ Modi will also hold meetings with hotel owners, house boat owners and traders. Officials indicated that the Prime Minister will also visit a relief camp where hundreds continue to take shelter.
For many flood-hit families still living in these tents on the banks of Srinagar’s river Jhelum, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Diwali visit will be significant if it helps them move into a shelter before the bone-chilling winter sets-in in the Valley.
Abdul Rehman and his wife Shakeela Bano are amongst those living in tented accommodation. ``We welcome this gesture but Modiji's diwali will become our Eid if we get some sort of compensation for our losses,'' Rahman, a daily wager, told HT. His wife Shakeela said, “It’s very difficult to live here with small children. What will we do in the winter months? We have lost everything. Even a small room somewhere will do for us.''
While many are hoping for relief, Modi’s visit has taken a political turn with separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani saying it’s a stunt aimed at the upcoming elections in the state. ``Everybody left us to die when the floods came. What will these visits do now?'' he asked.
Local BJP leaders however said the visit was aimed at telling the people that “the PM feels their pain and will not leave them alone in the time of trouble.”
The devastating floods – the worst in 100 years -- left close to 300 dead and affected more than a million people across the state.
Mainstream politicians belonging to the ruling National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) expect Modi’s trip to be ‘’more than a plain gesture.” The NC is waiting to see how much of the proposed Rs 44,000 crore package is announced. Abdullah welcomed the visit and tweeted his appreciation. “Let's just appreciate that @narendramodi is in Srinagar on his festival & not at home celebrating as he normally would have been doing,’’ the chief minister wrote on the micro-blogging site.
PDP, the principal opposition party while saying that Eid would have been ``a more appropriate time,'' also welcomed the visit. ``Its a good gesture and we hope that the prime minister’s visit gives some pace to the relief and rehabilitation work in the valley,'' said party spokesman Nayeem Akhtar.
Modi’s Srinagar visit will be his fourth trip to the state since he took charge as prime minister in May.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrive in Srinagar at 12.30pm
Chief minister Omar Abdullah will brief him on flood relief and rehabilitation measures
The PM will meet representatives of a number of political parties and groups before visiting flood-affected residents
He is likely to visit two flood-hit areas on the banks of the Jhelum in Srinagar