President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday called upon Kashmir's youth to be part of new dawn and take the lead in forging the future of the country.
"The contributions of young Kashmiris are critical for India’s advancement to progress. Let the dark days of violence and conflict be left behind. Let a new dawn emerge. It is time to move ahead with faith in our collective future," said Mukherjee in his convocation speech at Kashmir University in Srinagar.
The president, who is on a three-day visit to the state, also his maiden visit since elected as head of the country, was the chief guest at the 18th convocation of Kashmir University. He distributed awards and medals among students.
Mukherjee made it clear in his speech that he was aware of problems in Kashmir. "I am aware that there are grievances. Many important issues need deft handling and speedy resolution. New Delhi and the state government are determined and duty bound to ensure that every Kashmiri lives with dignity having equal rights and equal opportunities," he said.
Asserting the importance of Kashmir for the country, the president said, "Let Jammu and Kashmir lead the way in the building of a new future for India. Let it set an example to the rest of India and the world by showing how the entire region can be transformed into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity."
Underlining the need for greater tolerance, Mukherjee said, "No problems are ever resolved by violence. It only aggravates the pain and the hurt on every side. The healing process must be nurtured with love, compassion and patience."
Governor NN Vohra and chief minister Omar Abdullah also spoke on the occasion.
"It is a brave new world where the global and the local melt rather seamlessly into each other. It is in this world that you have to step in as potential leaders and doyens. Let all of you make a pledge today and affirm that you will take on the challenge that leadership in today’s world entails. The world is your oyster. Shape it as you like and want," Omar told students.
The convocation was held amid tight security where no mobiles phones, keys or pens were allowed inside the auditorium, even of journalists. All high rise structures in and around the varsity were taken over by security forces.
No student except a few selected awardees were allowed on the campus. The hostels were vacated several days ago as part of the sanitising process of the campus, following threats by a banned students' organisation to organise protest.
Every row of students, teachers and the mediapersons was manned by four policemen in civvies. Only students whose background was verified by security agencies were allowed to sit in the hall. A strict vigil was maintained to ensure all students stand up for the national anthem. In the past two months, many students faced action following their decision not to stand up for the anthem when the governor was chairing a session.
There was heightened security in the city also with separatist backed shutdown call affecting daily life.