Pitching development and employment as the most potent antidote to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Saturday announced a Rs 80,000-crore economic package for the strife-torn state as a step forward in his vision for building a “naya aur adhunik” (new and modern) Kashmir.
“The biggest task before us is to create employment opportunities for the youth of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” Modi said while addressing a public rally of about 10,000 people, predominantly Muslims, at a heavily fortified Sher-e-Kashmir stadium ringed by ember-hued Chinar trees.
Watch | PM Modi announces Rs 80,000 crore package in Jammu and Kashmir
“Employment is the biggest solution to all problems of the state. To achieve that dream, the government of India has sanctioned a Rs 80,000-crore package,” he said amid cheers from a responsive crowd gathered by ruling alliance partners, the PDP and the BJP.
Asserting that the package would help change the future of the youth of Kashmir, Modi employed his trademark flourish to deliver a punchline: “And, this is not a full stop. It’s only a beginning. Our heart and Delhi’s khazane (treasury) are open for you. I am ready to do anything for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Development and youth were the key words that resonated through Modi’s 40-minute speech which steered clear of delivering a political message that most in Kashmir were keen to hear about. The ruling PDP had billed Modi’s visit as “historic” and was hoping for him to make a new beginning on the Kashmir issue, a flashpoint between India and Pakistan.
But, Modi clearly stopped short of that. He, however, did swear by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous mantra of “Insaniyat, jamhooriat and Kashmiriyat”.
“We will follow in Atal-ji’s footsteps and I need nobody’s advice on Kashmir. These will be our pillars on the path of development and need to be strengthened.”
Lauding the people of the state for strengthening democracy with large participation in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls last year, Modi said they had fulfilled Vajpayee’s dream on “jamhooriat” (democracy).
Mindful of the Kashmiri audience, Modi glowingly invoked Kashmiryat and termed it as the fountainhead of communal harmony and Sufism. “India will be incomplete without Kashmiriyat,” he said.