Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to violence-torn Kashmir on Sunday, saying any life lost in the Valley, be it that of a young man or a security personnel, was a loss for India.
Speaking during the 23rd edition of his monthly radio address, Mann ki Baat, the prime minister said all political parties spoke in one voice on Kashmir, sending out a strong message to the world as well as separatists.
“Ekta (unity) and mamata (affection) was the crux of all interactions I had recently on Kashmir situation,” said Modi.
The Valley has been rocked by violent protests for more than seven weeks now with 68 dead and thousands injured. The demonstrations were sparked by the killing of insurgent leader Burhan Wani and simmering anger across Kashmir has pushed the government on the back foot.
The administration has blamed separatists and Pakistani-sponsored elements for the violence. “Those pushing youth towards stone pelting in Kashmir will someday have to answer them,” Modi said.
The PM also spoke on various other issues, from cleanliness in schools and villages to Teacher’s Day and Ganeshotsav celebrations, ideas for which he had earlier sought from people on the Narendra Modi App and MyGov Open Forum.
Modi lauded the performances of gymnast Dipa Karmakar and medal winners – shuttler PV Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik – at the recently concluded Rio Olympics.
“I’m happy that girls from all over the country -- PV Sindhu from south India, Sakshi Malik from the north and Dipa Karmakar from the Northeast -- brought laurels for India,” he said.
“I was filled with pride to see these girls taking on the task of making the country proud.”
When asked by a citizen on the myGov app if India’s performance at the Rio Games was satisfactory, Modi said “No, it wasn’t. But I have constituted a team to improve our performance next time.”
He also remembered hockey legend Major Dhyanchand and said it was delightful to see Indians excited for the Olympic Games.
The PM urged students to upload pictures with teachers on the Narendra Modi App to celebrate Teacher’s day. Remembering Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan ahead of his birth anniversary on September 5, PM Modi paid his respect to his teachers. “My handwriting is very bad, but even at the age of 90, a teacher of mine has a better handwriting. Handwriting adds immense respect to one’s personality.”
Ahead of the Ganesh festival and Durga Puja, PM Modi asked everyone to refrain from worshipping idols made from Plaster of Paris. “It harms the environment. Make it a point to use only clay idols and protect the environment,” he said.
He repeatedly referred to citizen efforts to clean their neighbourhoods, appealing to everyone to make a short documentary or film on Clean India. “The best of the entries will be awarded on October 2, on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.”
He said students of 1,700 schools in Chhattisgarh wrote to their parents, urging them to construct toilets in their homes and even asking for a toilet as their birthday gift.
“A 16-year-old girl launched a Satyagraha, gave up food, demanding a toilet in her home in Karnataka. I congratulate this sense of need for cleanliness.”
Modi also referred to the scheduled canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4th. “Her life was dedicated to work for the poor. I pay my tributes to her. A delegation led by Sushma Swaraj will be headed to witness the historic event.”
(with agency inputs)