In bid to reach out to people in Kashmir after the execution and burial of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Delhi on February 9, union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh visited the valley's most protest-prone district and Guru's hometown, Sopore, on Saturday.
Ramesh was accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who also visited the separatist bastion in north Kashmir for the first time since Guru's hanging that sparked violent protests in Sopore and other places in Kashmir for several weeks.
Though there was a separatist shutdown on Saturday, there was no significant protest in volatile Sopore, which is hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's hometown as well.
Promising renewed help from the Centre for youths in Jammu and Kashmir, Ramesh said 15,000 of them would be given training and employment in private companies under the Himayat scheme in and outside the state.
Ramesh also said the Centre has allocated R800 crore for the Umeed scheme to train 90,000 women in 900,000 families across the state with a view to provide them employment.
"Kashmiri youth should be open to going out of the state. It's not just a job, it's a lifetime bonding we wish to have with you," Ramesh told youths here.
Reacting to the beating up of a Kashmiri youth in Bangalore recently, Abdullah said at a similar meeting near Srinagar earlier, "Kashmiris should not be seen with an eye of suspicion. Not every Kashmiri carries a gun with him."