The prime minister’s first remarks on the ongoing spell of unrest in Kashmir after 32 days of violence made the headlines in most newspapers in the Valley on Wednesday morning.
The Valley’s largest-circulating daily, Greater Kashmir, leads with a quote headline saying “Kashmir has same freedom that every Indian feels’’.
The story – reported by the Press Trust of India – said the prime minister broke his silence on the turmoil in Kashmir and advocated a path of “democracy and dialogue” to restore peace in the spirit of ‘’insaniyat (humanity), jamhuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat’’.
An adjoining reaction story said Modi’s speech drew a mixed response.
The newspaper quotes various separatist leaders as criticising the speech. While JKLF leader Yasin Mallik was quoted as saying “calling pro freedom Kashmiris as misguided youth is old Delhi policy”, another moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was reported as saying that Delhi should accept, not deny what Kashmiris want.
Another leading daily, Rising Kashmir, said on its front page: Too little too late, Prime Ministers Kashmir remarks fail to enthuse’’. The paper says Modi’s words will have little impact on ground. The newspaper also used PTI copy for the main speech.
Both the newspapers carry prominent stories about the increase in pellet victims in hospitals alongside the prime minister’s speech.
Greater Kashmir also carried an interview with a prominent retina surgeon, Dr Mahesh Shanmugam, from Bangaluru saying more surgeons were needed for eye surgeries. The surgeon calls situation in hospitals `war like’’.
Another newspaper that rising readership over the past month, Kashmir Reader said “Narendra Modi speaks on Kashmir, offers little’’ in the headline.
“What Prime Minister Narendra Modi said about Kashmir on Tuesday, 32 days after the entire valley rose in revolt against the Indian rule, would probably not please even chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who on Monday called for “bold and tangible” steps to reach out to the people of Kashmir,” the paper said.
In a rally in Madhya Pradesh on Monday, Modi called for peace in the state and said the freedom available in other parts of India was also for Kashmiris. But he attributed the massive protests in the Valley to the handiwork of a “few misguided people hurting the Valley’s great tradition” – remarks that roiled many in the region.
Kashmir’s vernacular dailies also talked about Modi’s speech.
The headline in Kashmir Uzma said “Kashmir halat par Modi ne todhi taweel Khamoshi’’. (Modi breaks his long silence on Kashmir’).
Kashmir’s largest circulating Urdu daily, Aftab, said ``Tawun do Khushali lo, Wazir-e-Azam ka naya nara’’ (Cooperate and get development in return, PM’s new slogan’’).