Swearing by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “dream for peace and progress” in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that he wanted to win the hearts of the people of the border state through unhindered development.
Addressing a function after flagging off the 25.6-km Katra-Udhampur train at Katra, Modi, on his first visit to J&K as PM, said: “We don’t subscribe to the politics of either winning or losing. My objective is to win the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through development.”
“The journey started by Vajpayee in the state will be taken to its logical conclusion,” he added, signalling a conciliatory approach to the insurgency-torn state.
“Jammu and Kashmir has passed through a difficult time; whether or not in power, it is our wish and responsibility to improve the quality of life of the people, meet their aspirations, provide jobs to the youth and reach out to the last man in the line,” he said.
Modi, in his last address during the parliamentary election campaign at Hiranagar in Kathua on March 26 had said, "We will take the path of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had said the overall development of the state can take place by strengthening democracy, humanity and Kashmiryat (Jamhoriaat, Insaaniyat aur Kashmiriyat)."
Modi, who reached Katra at 10.15 am, in his about 15-minute address did not touch the contentious issues like Article 370 or the return of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits to the valley, one of the priorities of the BJP-led NDA government.
The PM reflected his inclusive approach both towards the state and the country by observing that it's an auspicious environment as Amarnath Yatra and the holy month of Ramzan is being observed. Lakhs of Hindu pilgrims arrive in this only Muslim-majority state of the country during this time.
The Prime Minister, in a significant statement, said the government would work towards a common development model for Himalayan states from Jammu and Kashmir to the North-East.
The landlocked Himalayan states are financially heavily dependent on the Centre as they had lacked in industrialisation. Industrialists are not forthcoming because of economic viability and show interest only when special tax incentives are introduced, which the Centre had given periodically. It has resulted in backwardness of the remote areas of the state, which border both Pakistan and China.