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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Revocation of Article 370 has no taker

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  peer.mushtaq@hindustantimes.com Kargil, August 12, 2014
First Published: 19:32 IST(12/8/2014) | Last Updated: 21:12 IST(12/8/2014)

The streets of the Muslim-majority district of Kargil in the Ladakh region, 200 km away from Srinagar, with around 1.5 lakh population, were festooned with the BJP flags on Tuesday and the youth on top of the buses were cheering "Modi, Modi!!" all day.

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While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development plank wooed the hordes of people to the venue, the BJP's revocation of Article 370 has no takers in Kargil.

Muhammad Hussain, a carpenter by profession from the Choskom area in Kargil, was seated in the first row of the audience at the Khree Sultan Cho Stadium venue.

"I am eager to hear Modiji. I have heard him on television several times and he seems a votary of pro-development. He can bring changes here too," said Hussain, who arrived at 9 am only to take a seat where the Prime Minister was to make a speech at around 12 pm.

However, in the same breath, Hussain added, "Article 370 that is enshrined in the Jammu and Kashmir's constitution should stay. Kargil will lose everything if it goes. We take pride in our identity."

He is seconded by Muhammad Ali, an elder from Kargil, who is among the hundreds keenly watching Modi's approach towards the Muslims. "Kargil needs development and raking up the issues like Article 370 will only create bad blood here."

Speaking to the media, senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi skirted off questions on Article 370 and said, "Development is the focus".

"Article 370 is not an issue right now. We want this region to be part of the progressive mainstream of the country," said Naqvi, who has been camping in the area for several days to galvanize support on the ground in the Muslim-majority district of Ladakh.

He said the BJP's opinion on the opening of the road to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's Skardu area from Kargil, is a long pending demand here and it is positive one.

"One has to gauge the intention of Modiji. His coming to this place is a significant thing and a message in itself. He has been insisting on talking to people one-to-one in Kargil," said Naqvi.

Dozens of students like Buddhist Angmao also participated in the rally addressed by the Prime Minister to know him personally. "This is a rare chance to see the person and know his views," she said, adding "I have been following his election coverage on the television".

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